The Great Girl Scout Cookie Baker Showdown

February 1st, 2012

[I don't have time to finish this article.  So I'm posting it as is.]

It’s that time of year again.  The time of year when you don’t even need to enter the supermarket to purchase cookies.  The time of year when your boss guilts you and your co-workers into purchasing 8 boxes from his daughter.

That’s right, it’s Girl Scout cookie season.

“Has the Thin Mint box gotten smaller!?”

Every year at least one unsuspecting American purchases a box of Thin Mints and upon examining the box exclaims, “Did they change the size of the box?! This isn’t what they looked like last year! I hate my life!”
While there have likely been some box design changes over the year, the unsuspecting American is likely comparing Thin Mints from two different bakers.

Two Bakers

There are two licensed Girl Scout Cookie bakers, ABC Bakers and Little Brownie Bakers (hereafter referred to as ABC and LB).  ABC has baked cookies for Girl Scouts since 1937, while Little Brownie has only been in the game for a few decades.

Head to Head

Now to the fun part.  Eating.

The purpose of this effort was to compare and contrast, not pick one baker over the other!  In fact, there were only five taste testers (not exactly a statistically significant sample size).  Anyhow, cue the delectable visuals…

The Contenders

ABC up top, LB below

Methods

  1. Bought lots of Girl Scout cookies (one box of each kind from each of the two bakers)
  2. Feed to co-workers and family
    • test was performed blind (everyone had to close their eyes)
    • the order of the bakers and cookies were selected at random (OK, pseudo-random)
    • tasters were required to cleanse their palette after each cookie sample
  3. Made them comment and pick which baker’s version they liked the most
All cookies (and boxes) were purchased, photographed and consumed in February 2011.

Trefoils / Shortbread

First up is what I consider to be the quintessential Girl Scout cookie solely because it is embossed with the Girl Scout logo (if only they made ones embossed with a Mockingjay…).

Trefoils (LB)

Trefoils (LB)

Shortbread (ABC)

Shortbread (ABC)

Trefoils (LB) vs. Shortbread (ABC)

Trefoils (LB) vs. Shortbread (ABC)

 

 

Trefoils (LB)

Trefoils (LB)

Shortbread (ABC)

Shortbread (ABC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trefoils have 40 more calories than Shortbread.  Visually it is a thicker and greasier cookie so this makes sense.

Trefoils (LB)

Trefoils (LB)

Shortbread (ABC)

Shortbread (ABC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do-si-dos / Peanut Butter Sandwich

 

Do-si-dos (LB)

Do-si-dos (LB)

Peanut Butter Sandwich (ABC)

Do-si-dos (LB) vs. Peanut Butter Sandwich (ABC)

Do-si-dos (LB) vs. Peanut Butter Sandwich (ABC)

 

Do-si-dos (LB)

Do-si-dos (LB)

Peanut Butter Sandwich (ABC)

Peanut Butter Sandwich (ABC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do-si-dos (LB)

Do-si-dos (LB)

Peanut Butter Sandwich (ABC)

Peanut Butter Sandwich (ABC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samoa / Caramel Delights

These are my personal favorite.

Samoa (LB)

Samoa (LB)

Caramel deLites (ABC)

Caramel deLites (ABC)

Samoa (LB) vs. Caramel Delights (ABC)

Samoa (LB) vs. Caramel Delights (ABC)

 

 

 

Samoa (LB)

Samoa (LB)

Caramel Delights (ABC)

Caramel Delights (ABC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samoa (LB)

Samoa (LB)

Caramel Delights (ABC)

Caramel Delights (ABC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagalongs / Peanut Butter Patties

 

Tagalongs (LB)

Tagalongs (LB)

Peanut Butter Patties (ABC)

Peanut Butter Patties (ABC)

Tagalongs (LB) vs. Peanut Butter Patties (ABC)

Tagalongs (LB) vs. Peanut Butter Patties (ABC)

Tagalongs (LB)

Tagalongs (LB)

Peanut Butter Patties (ABC)

Peanut Butter Patties (ABC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tagalongs (LB)

Tagalongs (LB)

Peanut Butter Patties (ABC)

Peanut Butter Patties (ABC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thin Mints / Thin Mints

I'm a Girl Scout TRADITION!

Thin Mints are by far the best selling and most loved variety.  Incidentally, some have event speculated that they are laced with drugs but I assure you they’re just 100% wholesome, legal goodness.

No matter what baker bakes ‘em, they’re still Thin Mints.

 

 

 

 

Thin Mints (LB)

Thin Mints (LB)

Thin Mints (ABC)

Thin Mints (ABC)

 

Thin Mints (LB) / Thin Mints (ABC)

Thin Mints (LB) / Thin Mints (ABC)

 

 

Thin Mints (LB)

Thin Mints (LB)

Thin Mints (ABC)

Thin Mints (ABC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thin Mints (LB)

Thin Mints (LB)

Thin Mints (ABC)

Thin Mints (ABC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lemon Chalet Creames / Lemonades

There’s no contest between these two.

No really, there isn’t a contest because they’re completely different cookies.

Lemon Chalet Cremes (LB)

Lemon Chalet Cremes (LB)

Lemonades (ABC)

Lemonades (ABC)

Lemon Chalet Cremes (LB) and Lemonades (ABC)

Lemon Chalet Cremes (LB) and Lemonades (ABC)

The Lemon Chalet Cremes have a depiction of, you guessed it, a chalet.  Wikipedia informs us that a chalet “is a type of building or house, native to the Alpine region, made of wood, with a heavy, gently sloping roof with wide, well-supported eaves set at right angles to the front of the house.”

The Lemonades, not surprisingly, have a depiction of the inside of a lemon.

Lemon Chalet Cremes (LB)

Lemon Chalet Cremes (LB)

Lemonades (ABC)

Lemonades (ABC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again, completely different cookies.

Lemon Chalet Cremes (LB)

Lemon Chalet Cremes (LB)

Lemonades (ABC)

Lemonades (ABC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary of Data

 

Table of Results

These results are in no way statistically significant.

 

Conclusion

They’re all pretty good cookies.  There is not one variety from either baker I would turn away.

The most common differences:

  • LB cookies are a bit richer and have more calories per serving
  • LB cookies use slightly darker chocolate
  • LB cookies have cooler names (Well I think so.)

mmmmm

Color Settings for printing in MS Publisher 2003

December 11th, 2008

I will not restrain myself when discussing the inadequacy and bugginess of Microsoft Publisher.  However, it comes with some MS Office packages and it can get the job done (often with kicking and screaming).

Recently I did a project that needed to prepared for print.  For print, it’s advisable to work in CMYK color mode (unless you want your colors to go all weird and different and go through the anguish of “I now have 2500 printed copies of a mistake”).

Never had I used CMYK in Publisher.  It was also quite hard to find.  So here’s two screen shots that point the way:

It’s a good idea to set this before you start working on your document.

Parallax Ping))) to FPGA

September 27th, 2008

PING to FGPA

For our engineering senior design project in college, my teammate Justin designed a Verilog module for interfacing the Parallax PING))) Ultrasonic Sensor with an FPGA.

At the time (Spring 2008) we were unable to find an existing module and since I’ve only found one other similar (in function) module online.

The Verilog code and documentation can be found here: http://4llamas.com/arr/wiki/Ping.v

“Raw” DVD rip with DVD Decrypter

August 3rd, 2008

There’s two things I don’t like about the way DVDs are often ripped: bootlegging and re-compression.  So PLEASE, don’t distribute ripped DVD content.  Private use only, OK?  Keep it kosher.

DVD Decrypter

DVD Decrypter

Recompressing…. I suppose it’s ok for portable devices, but for media serving around the home, original source quality is preferable.  Quality quality quality.  With a DVD, this means copying the original program material as the native MPEG-2 video stream (and also leaving the audio encoded however it happens to be encoded).  A file with combined (muxed) “raw” (un-re-compressed) video and audio should be able to be played with any media player that can play and MPEG-2 file (usually extensioned .m2v).

DVD Decrypter is a great tool for doing a “Direct Stream Copy” (raw copy) as it refers to it.  It can also demux the various streams into separate raw video and audio files.  Developement of DVD Decrypter stopped after version 3.5.4.0.  You can download the last made version from here.

The following is a brief DVD ripping tutorial using DVD Decrypter.  DVD Decrypter runs on Windows XP and I’ve heard it also works on Windows Vista (though I have not tried it).

1. Use IFO Mode

IFO refers to the DVD InFOrmation files (.ifo) that are located on a disc that store information about chapters, audio tracks, etc.  IFO mode makes use of this information to make finding particular content easier.

If you are not already in IFO mode go to menu item:

Mode –> IFO
or press the “I” key

2. Set IFO Mode Options

Go to:

Tools –> SettingsIFO Mode tab

Once there, choose a file splitting option.

In the IFO Mode tab there is a drop down labeled File Splitting.  In many cases By Chapter is the desired setting.  The By Chapter setting will allow you to select program material you wish to rip in “chapter sanctioned” chunks.

3. Pick the part of the disc you want

With complicated program material this can be hard.  A feature that can help is Edit –> Select Main Movie PGC which automatically looks for the primary content on the disc.

One method of figuring out what chapters and PGCs (Program Chains) are what is to play the disc and note the runtime of the particular section (or chain) you want to rip.

The following two screen shots demonstrate the selection process for ripping only Chapter 3.

Note that you can rip multiple chapters to one continuous file by choosing the File Splitting option Auto (see step 2).

3. Set Stream Processing options

From the home screen, click on the Stream Processing tab.

Click the checkbox to Enable Stream Processing.

If you want to have a video file that also has the audio embedded for playback, leave the radio boxes at the bottom set to Direct Stream Copy.

If you want separate audio and separate video files, click on Demux.

The Raw option is similar to demux as it separates streams, but raw does not remove the auxillary (structural, how streams match up info.  i think.) information from the particular cells that hold the streams (the demux option remove this information).

NOTE: You can mix and match these options per stream.  This means you could theoretically demux one stream, but not others.

The Following screen shots of folders show the resulting files of a Direct Stream Copy rip and a demux rip.

4. Set destination and rip away!

Click the (explore) button to set a destination for the ripped files.

Press the Decrypt Button to start your rip!

5. Re-extension VOB files for playback

If you did a direct stream copy, to keep media players and Windows file associations happy, rename your ripped video/audio file which is currently named FILENAME.vob to FILENAME.m2v.

(If you can’t see the file extension in Windows XP, in a folder go to the menu Tools –> Folder OptionsView and uncheck hide extensions for known file types.)