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February 2, 2012

laptop/tablet recommendations

If I were to buy a laptop in 2012 it would be one of these (in the following order):

Spec wise I guess you’re supposed to look for Core i5/i7 processors with 256GB SSD hard drives (I’d want 512GB) and 4 to 8GB of memory and 6-7 hours of battery life. SD card slot, back lit keyboards, high res screens, a couple USB slots pretty much rounds things out. Might want to wait for Ivy Bridge processors, “retina display” for the MacBook as well as Mac OS X Mountain Lion or Windows 8 due out later this year.

For tablets, there’s really only the iPad, no point in getting anything else at the moment unless you’re a developer or want a tablet to just watch movies. For smart phones, either the iPhone 4S or the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and probably the next generation of both, due out later this year, is the safer bet.

My current setup (and will be through 2012 and a good part of 2013/2014) is a 13″ MacBook Pro from a few years ago and a Nexus S that I upgraded with a better battery that can last me a day or two between charges. And no tablets yet.

July 8, 2007

Bakesale Betty

I’m surprised I haven’t written anything about Bakesale Betty yet so here’s the scoop/review (and here’s hoping she web searches for “Bakesale Betty” and my post comes up and I get like a free sandwich or something…). Here’s the Yelp review too since I stole their fried chicken photo…

Bakesale Betty is just a couple blocks away from me, so it’s very dangerous. It’s over in Temescal and it took over a location that used to be Merritt Bakery and before that a cell phone/pager store. Temescal is a “transitional” neighborhood and it’s transitioning to be quite the new/hot/Bay Area bohemian spot due to Bakesale Betty, Pizziaolo, Tagine, Dona Tomas, Genova, Lane Splitters, Dollar Cleaners!, and several happening Korea places, etc.

Bakesale Betty has this now super famous chicken sandwich. It’s a fried chicken sandwich, with jalapeno coleslaw on Acme bread and it costs $7.25 or $7.50 I can’t remember. Everyone in Oakland knows about it and people are coming in from San Francisco checking it out.

Bakesale Betty also has great oatmeal cookies, scones, and everything is good.

You may get lagniappe (an extra cookie or a lemon bar or something) if you’re served by the right person (or maybe Bakesale Betty and her girls think I’m cute…that could be it).

When we first saw Bakesale Betty, we totally thought she was going to go out of business really quickly because all she sold were lemon bars and these sticky date puddings. They were good but who banks their business on lemon bars and sticky date puddings. Now Bakesale Betty really helped make Temescal cool– you should see how their business is set up and the lines outside their door.

Bakesale Betty has a jingle. All companies should have a jingle. I want a jingle.

Bakesale Betty incubated her company through the farmer’s market circuit. Quite smart! And Farmer’s Markets really are becoming a place where new businesses do incubate.

Bakesale Betty has befriended the Fire Department 4 or 5 houses down the street. The Firemen come into Bakesale Betty’s often so everyone knows not to f*ck with Bakesale Betty. One of their best moves.

July 4, 2007

Dell XPS m1330

I like this computer. c|Net gave it a good review, a 7.9. Here it is on Dell’s web site. I’m currently running a white MacBook. I also have an IBM X31 ThinkPad. I may get one of these XPS m1330 laptops but I’d like to get another MacBook (to replace my current one) probably in October this year or January next year. I want to wait until Leopard is pre-installed and then get Parallels for it too. I have a feeling the MacBook will get a good upgrade pretty soon.

Anway, one of the nice things about being in software is that it’s easy to justify computer purchases. :-) Oh, and it’s too bad these Dell laptops have to have Windows Vista installed. They really need to start putting in the option of a Linux OS installation as well. I’d pay for Ubuntu and Windows Vista installed.

June 19, 2007

The Paradox of Choice

Tags: Recommendations — 8:51 am Comments (0)

I pulled down previous posts on this book (for no good reason), The Paradox of Choice. If you’re in software, marketing, general business, or just having issues, I recommend this book.

Top Takeaways

  • For people in business, basically saying that there’s a pretty big opportunity in just making life simple and easy for people and to not give people *so* many choices. Life is already hard as it is.
  • This book kinda tells you how to make choices or at least helps you understand what you’re doing, profiles you in how you make choices, and provides really good insight with real examples. Almost every page, I’m like yup I can relate.
  • Basically reinforces that life is tough.

One last thing.  Taste is so hard to figure out.  Yelp and Amazon reviews are starting to not be so helpful anymore.  From a quick search perspective, reviews are still good.  Getting any more details on a product, service, restaurant, etc, better off getting a recommendation from a friend or hopefully finding others who consistently have the same taste as yours (which are usually friends).

March 14, 2007

good pots – Bourgeat

There’s nothing like good pots. I’m doing a slow kitchen upgrade, kitchen 1.5 if you will. Kitchen 1.0 consisted of cheap Emerilware non-stick pots and pans built by All Clad. They’ve done well the past 5 – 6 years and it was a good starter set. All Clad’s marketing is pretty good but I can’t really say the same for their low-end pots and pans they’re just ok, a bit overpriced and slightly overrated?

So over to Matfer Bourgeat products. We got a 7 1/2 quart “sauce” pot (we use it as a stock pot) and I like it a lot. We got it from Pastry Central but I think there are probably cheaper places to buy these pots.

I christened the pot with this killer mussels with saffron and mustard recipe. The next day cooked some pasta in it and none of the pasta stuck to the bottom, sign of a good pot.

February 28, 2007

Tokyo Fish Market

I’ve been looking for a good fish shop in the Bay Area and usually get fish from Hudson Fish company which is a small family owned business. It’s a Black owned business too which I like. The issue I have with Hudson Fish is that they’re only around at the Berkeley’s Farmer’s markets on Tuesday and Thursday and their selection isn’t huge. They’re based out of Half Moon Bay.

I’ve found a fish market I like finally, Tokyo Fish Market. They have Hawaiian and Japanese foods too like shisho leaves, Yakult, Calpis soda, Portuguese sausage, and sashimi grade fish including ankimo (fish liver) and sea urchin. The fish I usually like buying is Loch Duarte salmon and they have it fairly cheap here.

Tokyo Fish Market is on San Pablo Avenue in Albany, near REI and off the Gilman Street exit. The trip for me seems worth it if I can’t find what I want from Hudson Fish.

Yelp has a good set of reviews on it.

SFGate article on Tokyo Fish market

I found Tokyo Fish Market via my long runs. I’ve been running a 12 1/2 mile loop of late during the week and I run down San Pablo Avenue which goes through Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley, and Albany. It’s amazing what you see in 12 1/2 miles including the Berkeley Hills, the UC Berkeley Campus, the hood, folks smoking pot/dealing drugs, children playing, people running and walking their dogs, missing bus stops and finding fresh fish.

Note to Gen: I tried the Strawberry Calpino drink. Pretty darn good. The peach and mango I’ll try next.

Another note: The best time to buy fish is Friday and Monday. That’s when everybody gets their fish, Friday deliveries for the weekend, and Monday deliveries for the week.

February 16, 2007

MACプロ用ナイフ or MAC Knives

When you first start off buying house stuff, it’s probably for college and you end up with a knife from the dollar store. Maybe you get lucky (or you’re rich) and you get to buy nice stuff off the bat.

The next phase of accumulating stuff is when you get married or single but grown up a little bit more. Usually you’re still not sure what to buy and get whatever is marketed to you, e.g. All Clad cookware, whatever.

That’s a long way of stating I’m looking to upgrade our knife set, after a couple tries, and hopefully getting a set of MAC knives — a chef’s knife, slicer, and paring knife from the pro series. I’d like to get a yanagiba knife too eventually, probably in lieu of a slicer.

MAC knives are made in Japan and are highly regarded by chefs like Thomas Keller of The French Laundry/Per Se and Charlie Trotter out of Chicago. They’re also not that expensive in comparison to some other knives 0n the market.

A couple more things:

  • It’s funny that the brand is MAC. Owning a MacBook and other Apple products and then have MAC knives seems a little too Mac-ish.
  • Buying a MAC knife is interesting because I can buy it off of Amazon but I see that it’s cheaper to buy them here at Chef Knives to Go. How do I verify this business? Well, the store is hosted on Yahoo! Shopping. They have a number to call. So I may give them a call and probably will do business with them. Do I care if their checkout process is encrypted? Yes. Do I care where they got their cert? No. Am I using a credit card that covers me against online fraud and online purchases? Yes. I could also buy these MAC knives from a more local store in Sacramento — they own the domain but the knives are also more expensive there.
  • Knives are cool.

I have a few more “domestic” and food things to write about that I want to get out of my system. I do like writing about products, partly because some really great/good products get buried by marketing machines who tout inferior or just ok products e.g. BOSE speakers. The other fun part is seeing my product “reviews” actually getting up there in various search engine’s results. A side goal is to maybe get some free stuff. I could do with a free year’s supply of Yakult. :)

February 5, 2007

Ice cream in the Bay Area

I’m probably not the best authority but ColdStone Creamery and Ben & Jerry’s doesn’t cut it.

Go here:

There’s a Lappert’s in Sausalito. That’d be the only chain I’d recommend.

November 19, 2006

definitive Bay Area restaurants

My top restaurants per category in the Bay Area:
If you think I’m wrong on some of these tell me and help me fill in the blanks if you can.

California – Gary Danko, Lalimes, Chez Panisse (is there a good everyday type place?)
French – French Laundry: tasting menu
Bistro style – Cafe Claude, Jojo’s: steak frites

Northern Chinese – Shan Dong: Shan Dong chicken, hand made noodles, dumplings
Vietnamese – Le Cheval, Slanted Door
Korean – Oghane, My Tofu House

Thai – Lotus Thai
Indian – still need to find
Italian – Trattoria La Siciliana

Taqueria – Cactus Taqueria: burritos, fish tostada; Taqueria Ramiro and Sons: super carnitas burrito
Mexican – still need to find maybe Guaymas, maybe Dona Tomas

Pizza – Zachary’s

Burgers – Christophe’s
Steak place – still need to find


Bakery – Crixa cakes
Coffee place – Blue Bottle

July 18, 2006

a plan for Disneyland

Tags: Recommendations — 10:06 pm Comments (0)

(This post provides some tips for enjoying Disneyland based on my experience from a recent trip. It assumes many things like bringing kids and wanting to enjoy most of the many rides that Disney has to offer.)

The worse thing would be to go to Disneyland this Summer, pay all that money for the tickets, hotel, transportation, and spend your trip waiting in line for 45, 60, 75 minutes at a time for rides in the 90+ degree heat in Southern California…with kids. That sucks. The alternative is to plan ahead, get on all the cool rides, have your kids remember the rides and not the long waits, and have fun.
With that here you go:

  1. Go buy this book. Read it inside and out, and don’t forget to take it with you. This Unofficial Guide to Disneyland book includes information about all the rides, nearby hotels, plans/routes for your trip, food choices, and it will save you so much time you won’t believe it.
  2. Learn how to use FastPass and use it. Basically FastPass are tickets that you can use for later in the day but you get to use a special FastPass line when you go back later. For instance you can ride Splash Mountain first thing in the morning (very little wait), grab a FastPass after you’re done, and go ride Splash Mountain again in the afternoon when it’s really really hot. In the afternoon the wait is 60+ minutes or longer and with FastPass you cut in front of everybody and get on in 5 minutes. You can only get so many FastPass tickets per visit so learn how to use it.
  3. Don’t be afraid to go back to the hotel in the afternoon and even eat lunch outside the park. You can break up the day into two visits, a morning visit to Disneyland, and a late afternoon-evening visit. You’ll totally avoid the peak which looks to be 11-3pm and it’s also when it’s the hottest out.
  4. Have a plan for each day that you visit Disneyland for all the rides you want to see. Go to the most popular rides first when the wait in line will be the shortest, this includes Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones, and the Matterhorn. You don’t have to stick to the plan 100%, but it’s just really good to have one.

That’s all there is to it. The book has the rest of the info like when to go e.g. mid-week is best like a Wednesday-Thursday, it has details on California Adventure and Universal Studios, and also tips on how not to lose your child.

A few more things:

  1. I think the best age to take kids to Disneyland is between 8-12 or second grade through seventh grade. Anything younger and your kid is probably too short for the rides and Disneyland can’t be cool if you’re 13.
  2. We stayed at the Sheraton Anaheim and it worked out well. The Disneyland hotels are pretty pricey and so the Sheraton was a good value given it’s location.
  3. 2 days is about right for Disneyland. One day is way too short and three days is a little much.
  4. There’s an IHOP, a Denny’s, and a Subway outside the park with more reasonable costs for food. Or you can try and find some fish tacos which is a Southern California thing.
  5. Before you buy that Disney schwag (for yourself and not for your kids), just ask yourself when you’d see yourself wearing that Mickey Mouse polo shirt or hat. If you work for Disney, that’s one thing, otherwise, it’s kinda lame (if you’re 13 or older anyway).
  6. Here’s our trip report and you can kind of tease out what our plan was based on it.

I hope this was helpful :)

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