The Sad State of Seattle Food

What is going wrong with Seattle Restaurants?

Hey a new Category!

Seattle is known as a fairly snobby place when it comes to food. We introduced expensive gourmet coffees and weird sounding microbrews to the world. For most of Seattle’s history it was a fairly blue-collar kind of town. With restaurants focusing on quantity as well as quality. That all changed during the go-go nineties with the influx of dot com and Microsoft millionaires. We now have all sorts of gourmet food around here and for a while it was excellent. Now it seems we are in a bit of a decline. Formerly excellent places like Cafe Campagne are no longer worth a visit while new places like Dandelion and the 35th St Bistro try to make up in high prices and presentation what they lack in ambience and food quality.

What amazes me these days is how some of these places are surviving. My wife and I recently had to walk out on a meal at the 35th street Bistro because we couldn’t hear each other and because we had waited 45 minutes for our entrees. If we had stayed we would have ended up paying more than $30/person for the privilege. You read the reviews on these places and they sound amazing, but they are horrific. I’m hoping to write as many good reviews as bad ones, but this weekend we tried two new places and both frankly sucked so there won’t be too much positive to say. To avoid being too negative, I’m going to list a few of my favorite places now.

Non Gourmet Food
The Other Coast – this is an amazing sandwich shop on Ballard Ave. The quality and staff have gotten a bit less consistent since it changed hands last year, but when they do it right, it is awesome.
India Bistro – Hands down the best Indian food in the city, no questions.
Bento Sushi – my neighborhood Sushi place is also one of the best in the city. Some seriously high quality food for not so much cash.
Delfinos – I’m from Chicago, that means I like my pizza very thick and this University Village place does it right.

On the Gourmet Side
Chiso – Higher end Japanese cuisine in Fremont, very excellent
The Queen City Grill – if you can get there before the crowds you can eat very well in a great environment. When it gets crowded though, it is a lot harder to enjoy
Brasa – Excellent Portuguese-Fusion cuisine

There are many more good places that I’ll try to get to, but I’ll mostly be concentrating on new places here, I think.


want to know why Windows is so easily hacked?

As technologies progress and our devices are ever more networked with each other, security in operating systems has become increasingly complex. This complexity makes the systems themselves less secure because it is harder for developers to understand it. So the OS vendors add complexity to deal with the fact that applications are doing security wrong which creates a vicious cycle.

Are you a windows developer? Do you understand ACLs? Maybe you do, but most likely you only think that you do. Why? Because they are somewhat complicated. “What, I can explicitly grant permissions for my network printer to access this file?” Microsoft doesn’t make it easier. The documentation in MSDN is near useless. The web isn’t your friend here either since a lot of the websites I’ve found when looking for more info were just wrong.

I was working on a nasty file-permissions problem in a project that I was working on which necessitated a move from old-style file permissions code to ACLs. Now, I’ve been developing professionally on Windows for over 10 years, and I thought that I understood ACLs. Nope, I just thought I did. I spent days studying the web and writing test programs to figure out how to give the appropriate permissions to a single file. Luckily, I had an awesome tester who could break my stuff in ever more increasingly complicated ways, otherwise I probably would have shipped something that either didn’t always worked or was just a crazy security hole.

I realized that if it was that hard for me, what about all those less experienced or rushed developers currently shipping applications for Windows? The majority of developers inside of Microsoft probably don’t understand ACLs as well as they should. Is there any wonder why there are so many security issues in Windows?

The answer isn’t further complexity, but better documentation and education. This is critical stuff for Microsoft and 3rd party developers. It is time that Microsoft treated it that way.

I haven’t reviewed the ACL implementation in OS X 10.4 yet, but I shuddered when I heard that it was being added.

The difficulties of cross platform development in a Microsoft world

Cross platform development was never simple, but it could be simpler if Microsoft decided to support some standards occasionally

Now, I’ve been responsible for at least some of the Microsoft APIs inflicted upon developers, so I take some responsibility here. I don’t expect that Microsoft should have X Windows or Display Postscript or anything. I do expect that if I use standard C functions and the STL that they will at least work somewhat the same across platforms. That is too much to hope for when working in the wild world of internationalization it seems. Microsoft uses MBCS encoding for multi-byte encoding of char *s. This is a Microsoft-only thing that is the result of some dev way back when and is still foisted upon the world even though there is a much better standard called UTF-8. While I understand that Microsoft needs backwards compatibility for legacy applications, since they have already have a second set of APIs for Unicode, how hard would it be for them to support UTF-8? Actually, somewhat difficult, since Microsoft uses a different directory separator from the rest of the world that also doubles as an escape character for certain Japanese characters. If you have Japanese support on your XP machine, you’ll know what I mean already. However, this lack of UTF-8 support not only makes it difficult to port apps to Windows, it also makes it difficult to develop applications for multiple platforms. Microsoft already is forced to support UTF-8 for the web, XML and documents. It is about time that it works in C and the STL just like on all the competing operating systems.


What is with this new category?

I haven’t written on software engineering here for various reasons. Probably because it is difficult to do this without directly referencing stuff that I’m working on. My employer might consider this a bad thing. It is my profession, however. At least at the moment, I’ve been bugged by certain things that are of a more general nature and I think that adding another voice to the mix might be of use to someone out there. So stay tuned…

Microsoft caves on Gay Rights

Microsoft is proving that it is becoming a conservative corporation

I can’t believe that Microsoft caved in to a local Religious Right leader. Here’s the link to the story from the The Stranger.

Posted: Fri – April 22, 2005 at 06:12 PM

Trying to switch… 99% there

The final (for now) entry on switching my business to the mac

So, I’m almost there. I’ve got my records and accounting in FileMaker Pro, I can create and manage invoices and expenses there. The most interesting thing about the process was figuring out how to translate how my business works into FileMaker. I never realized how complicated my business was. I have direct sales, consignment sales, digital sales, and then consignee sales (I sell CDs from some local artists on my site). Additionally, I have to pay royalties from all these sale types and publishing as well. Then I have expenses related to releases and general expenses. It was some hard work to capture all this, and it gave me some real respect for the consultants who do this for a living. It took about 40 hours of work to get it all done and I still need to figure out how to make the reporting work so that next year at tax time it will be easy. The best part of it is that I pretty much don’t need Word or Excel at all any more.

The one thing I haven’t dealt with yet is how to get my database up on my website. It is an NT server and I figure I can do it using ODBC and something exported from FileMaker, but it will take some work. I’m going to wait on that until I have to.

Aside from that, I can definitely recommend the switch. It has been all systems go.

Where I’ve been

I’m here, but I’m not blogging because I’m not using the computer with iBlog on it right now

and their instructions for moving iBlog between computers doesn’t work for me…

Got a lot of stuff I’ve been itching to post though. Not enough time tonight. Will try to do ASAP.

Trying to switch… Part Trés

Embracing FileMakerPro

I’m adjusting easily to doing e-mail and general stuff on the mac, but now is the bonus round, the business stuff. As I’ve said previously, on the PC, my workflow was pretty lame. I had my customer, supplier and promotional postal mail addresses stored MyMailManager. My invoices were generated using a custom Word template. My finances and inventory were all stored in Excel files. This was a major pain. When I got an order I would have to enter the data several times: once in the mailing address database, twice on the receipt (billing and mailing addresses), once on the excel file for each release ordered and then finally onto my yearly sales spreadsheet so I could track sales volume and do my taxes. Additionally, I had an access database with a lot of this information doubled for my online store. None of these programs were talking to each other. Of course this led to a lot of problems. With so many steps, I would often miss one or two. Every year at Tax time, I would spend a weekend reconciling all my records and making sure that they were correct.

I knew that using Visual Basic for Applications I could tie all the applications together. The office applications anyway. I could store most of the information in Access and use it to generate invoices in Word with the data filled in and then also generate reports in Excel for my accountant. The problem was getting into it. Programming doesn’t scare me. I do it for a living. It was learning a new programming language and then trying to figure out the idiosyncrasies of each of the applications to make the whole thing work. Every time I would sit down to start working on it, it would immediately feel like more work that it was worth.

Of course, I knew that there were other applications designed to address these needs for a small business directly: Quickbooks, MS Money Small Business Edition, etc… I evaluated several of them, but none seemed to be able address my needs directly and none were flexible enough for me to extend myself. Eventually, I just gave up and resigned myself to continue the status quo.

Now that I’m on a new platform and am forced to replace MyMailManager, I decided to re-assess the issue and try FileMaker Pro. I’d heard of it, of course. It has been around for ever and I know a lot of people on both platforms use it. So far, so good. It is much easier to use than Access: making tables, relationships and views is much, much simpler. However, it isn’t as powerful and there are some quirky ways of doing things. I hit a lot of little FileMaker Pro workflow snags, but I can usually get past them quickly after a few seconds in the on-line help (I haven’t even cracked the book or tutorials yet). With a few hours put into it, I’m pretty convinced that I’ll be able to replace my inventory, CRM, order and bookkeeping workflow with Filemaker. I also like that I can export from it in several formats so that if I ever move to another DB, I can import my data. So far, I’ve got a table for my addresses, and a form for invoices. Next is getting my inventory going. Once that is done, I’m all set. If I can do all that without having to write any script, I will declare FileMaker Pro the all time champion of local databases. It will never replace SQL, mySQL or DB2 for me to use in a server application, I’m way to addicted to writing my own SQL statements and stored procedures, but to use locally and simply it rocks. So far at least…

George Bush’s hypocracy on supporting life

George Bush flies back to the capital from yet another vacation in Texas to sign a bill violating states rights and turning a poor woman into a political football. This is what you didn’t know.

Pity Terri Schiavo, her parents and her husband. Their case has been turned into a crass attempt at political hay from a deeply hypocritical administration.

George Bush claims to be a firm supporter of life, he flew back from Texas to sign a bill putting Terri Schiavo back onto life support and claimed that he is a great supporter of life (a big nod to the rapture right). However, as Governor of Texas, he put 152 people to death, including the mentally ill and a woman who had become an evangelical Christian in prison. In fact, he mocked her on television.

Also as Governor, he signed the “Advance Directives Act”, which states “If a hospital or other health provider disagrees with a (patient surrogate’s) decision to maintain or halt life-sustaining treatment … the case goes before a medical committee. If the committee agrees with the doctor, the guardian or surrogate has 10 days to seek treatment elsewhere,” according to an Associated Press summary. Under this law, the state removed the life support from Sun Hudson, an African American baby, against his parent’s wishes. Unlike Terri Schiavo, the baby was alert and active and responded to stimulus. The reason that the child was removed from life-support? His parents couldn’t afford to pay the bill anymore.

Also, our life-loving president has reduced medicare, has reduced medical support for our veterans, has denied the equipment for our troops to protect themselves and is attempting to destroy Social Security, the only life-line for many seniors.

This shows the truth about George Bush. He supports life as long as you can pay to support it. The minute that you can’t, he doesn’t give a damn. In fact, he’d rather see you dead.

Here’s some supporting information:
Eric Zorn’s opinion piece in the Chicago Tribune
Newday’s article on the presidents changing ethics
The Daily Kos weighs in
The Houston Chronicle article about Sun Hudson, a website about George Bush’s record as governor