94 Stewart

this new Bistro at Pike Place Market needs your support

This spot opened on April 1st in the old Garlic Tree location. It is somewhat hidden and has had a bit of trouble bringing in a crowd. We had brunch there this morning by ourselves. The service was good, the food is good. The food wasn’t mind-blowing, but it was good. What I was really impressed by was that the chef seems really to be taking some chances. This isn’t standard fare, if you are looking for a good piece of fish, cooked well, you can do that in a lot of places. If you are looking for some truly unique flavor combinations, this place is the most original that i’ve found in Seattle yet. You can check out their menus on their website.

Plus, they allow dogs! Inside! For that alone they need to be supported.

Brasa

consistently good

Here is my first completely positive review. For a little while, I’ve avoided posting it, not wanting to give away the secret. Of course, it isn’t a secret, it has been around for a long time and is consistently highly rated everywhere. And now, I’m tossing in my $.02.

Brasa is excellent. It was excellent the first time we ate there, years ago. It was excellent when we ate there a few nights ago.

Brasa services Portuguese and mediterranean food, the atmosphere is somewhat dark, but comfortable. It is expensive, but the bar menu has most of the same great food in smaller portions for a lot less money. We usually will eat in the bar, unless we have a special occasion to celebrate. The service is great and friendly. The only complaint is that the bar allows smoking (the dining area does not, but there isn’t a wall between them). This means that we’ve occasionally had to switch tables because we were sitting next to chain smokers. The staff has always accommodated us cheerfully when this happens.

[11.25.06 update – smoking is no longer allowed indoors in public places, so that isn’t an issue anymore]

I recommend Brasa unequivocally.

Welcome to the police state, citizen

The Bush administration is now classifying documents at the rate of 125 per minute, an unprecedented rate. At the same time, the administration is demanding more and more information about its citizens through instruments like the Patriot Act. If information is power, George Bush wants to make sure that he has the power. The purpose of this is two-fold. If the administration controls access to the facts, it is hard to prove government allegations a lie (just ask the 9-11 commission); secondarily, it allows the administration to dig up dirt on its enemies.

some references:
The Bush Administration – a civil liberties scorecard (the ACLU)
U.S. government secrecy reaches historic high – By Scott Shane (The New York Times)
Rove talked to reporter but denies leak – By Richard B. Schmitt (Los Angeles Times)

doomsday

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is retiring

Seattle PI story

This sucks. Driving the country into war and into billions of dollars of debt wasn’t enough for this president. Now he’s going to try and ram the scariest, crazy-as-all-get-out right-wing nutcase he can onto the supreme court.

Democrats, it is time to “D” up. We need a plan NOW. We need to shut the government down if he proposes someone like Alberto Gonzales or some other far right idealogue for the bench. Even scarier is the possibility that Bush will get to put a new chief justice on the court. If that happens, anyone who likes some civil rights should just give up because you won’t be getting them in the US for the next few decades.

Dear USA Today dot com

a plea

Dear USAToday.com,

if I can’t find an article that was on the front page of your paper after half an hour of trying, do you think I’ll buy the paper? Do you think I’ll visit your website again?

(spoiler space)

no.

iTunes 4.9

An iPodderX user and a podcast fan gives his impressions of the new iTunes

Overall, it is decent. If iPodderX hadn’t been getting increasingly yicky as it adds unnecessary features and interface I probably wouldn’t switch, but the new iTunes does a decent job at handling podcasts without too much fuss. The new podcast directory in the iTunes music store is pretty decent (although it lists some invalid or old podcast feeds) and it looks like Apple has even convinced some new people to make some podcasts (I don’t remember there being a Nightline podcast before).

Subscribing is pretty simple for a single podcasts, but subscribing to multiple podcasts is a pain. The UI switches you to your new podcast tab and then you have to go back to subscribe to another podcast. Also, it is kinda crummy that iTunes can’t import OPML files which meant I had to re-subscribe to each podcast. I like that through the advanced tab I can add a feed that doesn’t appear in the directory (excellent for the personalized feeds from ITConversations and Audible.com).

At first I was annoyed that podcasts appear in a separate area from the rest of the library and that they couldn’t be rated or anything. Then I found that I could drag an episode of a podcast into my library and then it would appear there and I could treat it like the MP3 it is. Nice.

If you’ve got iTunes, this is worth upgrading for. I can’t compare it to other podcasting aggregators (iPodder lemon never worked for me), but as it is and for free, you don’t really need another if you have iTunes4.9)

I forgot one very important thing:
The update settings are kind of weird, you can update on the hour, by day, by week or manually. If you update daily, it is set to update at 5pm and there is no way to change it. This could be really bad because everyone with iTunes will all try and grab their podcasts at the same time. Most aggregators will do stuff to avoid this, apple should fix this ASAP.

The Apartment

Good food, nice service, but find the fatal flaw…

We thought that this place was brand new, but it turns out that it has been here a while. This review from the Seattle PI is pretty much on track. The staff was very friendly and attentive. The food was delicious, when we did get it, but it took an extremely long time. I eventually cancelled my appetizer because it hadn’t arrived 15 minutes after the main course was consumed. The food that we did get was good enough that I would have even looked past this, but the problem was that the noise level was so bad we had to yell to hear each other across the table.

The decor is super-hip-minimalist, which means cement walls, high cement ceiling and cement floor. The upshot of which is that the noise level gets ear-bleedingly loud even with a small number of people in the room.

We might consider it for an early dinner or a late lunch if it was fairly empty, or we might try sitting outside next time. It seems a shame to not visit again, because compared to most of the ultra-hip places we’ve been, this place is actually worth eating at.

Gnomedex 5.0 Afternoon 2nd Day

Today is a lot better than yesterday

Until we started talking about weatherbug, not only were the speakers good, but the questions have been great, and Marc Cantor has mostly kept his mouth shut. I thought Steve Rubel’s talk was pretty good, but then the audience just started complaining about the product he was using as a case study. I finally asked a question, so I’ll be preserved for eternity in the podcast, but of course I forgot to say my name. For the record, I was the one who asked about “bad employee” blogs.

In general today was much, much better than yesterday. The speakers were interesting, if they were promoting something, they were willing to wrap it within a greater topic, the questions were on topic. It was much more interesting.

On a side note, most of the MSFT people that were here yesterday weren’t here today, so there was also a lot less pro-microsoft propaganda in the room which was a relief as well.

So to sum up…

If Gnomedex is about users and developers partying together, as a developer, I think it was pretty much a waste. I learned nothing really new. I heard opinions that I’ve heard expressed before, expressed again. I spent way too much time hearing about specific feature requests and bugs in software that I didn’t happen to use, and I had to listen to a lot of self-promotion and ego stroking.

If Gnomedex is a people aggregator, then I think it is more successful as an event, just maybe not for me. While it was great putting faces to voices that I’d heard on podcasts, I’m a bit too much of a wallflower and I didn’t really make any useful connections. Then again, there wasn’t really anyone there that was worth connecting to professionally, and while I respect the hell out of a bunch of those attendees, I really don’t need to play sycophantic fan-boy to any of them.

Will I go to Gnomedex 6? Maybe, but probably not. It depends on what I’m doing. There are a lot more interesting technical conferences that would probably be a better use of my time. If I have something that I want to promote, it would make a lot more sense. maybe.