Greta’s Gourmet, Lincoln NE Review

It looks like I am turning into a food blogger. I enjoy trying lots of new places in town, so it’s fitting. I will need to remember the P&S camera since my cell phone photos are only so so.

Friday I packed my lunch and intended on eating it at work, but that all changed once I smelled coworkers warming up things in the microwave.  Browsing my stream on Google+ I noticed Brian’s postabout a great Friday burger deal from Greta’s Gourmet here in Lincoln.  Since this was fairly close to work I decided to give it a shot.I walked in and ordered the Greta Burger, which was the house ground beef patty with bleu cheese crumbles mixed in with the meat, seasoned with KC Steak seasoning.  This was served on a toasted gourmet bun with tomato, onion, and mixed greens.  I am a bleu cheese fan and have had several other bleu cheese burgers around town, but this one tops them.  It was very flavorful; every bite had a great bleu cheese flavor to it.  It was a juicy patty that was cooked perfectly, with a hint of pink in the middle. It was seasoned nicely and the onion was a great addition.  One of the problems with other restaurants bleu cheese burgers is that they are always messy.  Sometimes they crumble from too much bleu cheese or the bleu cheese just falls off the top. Since this one was mixed in it had none of these problems.  I had Sweet Maui Onion kettle chips, which were similar to a more subtle sour cream and onion flavor.  They were a good fit for the Greta Burger.

The atmosphere of the shop is nice.  It is a butchers shop so the cafe takes second place, but there are tables up against the window and some nice butcher block tables in the center.  It reminds me of a kind of deli that you would see in a place like NYC. It has a good lunch spot vibe.

For a total of $6.40 after tax I got a good sized gourmet burger, kettle chips, and a large iced tea.  I thought this was a pretty good deal.  It was cheaper than “Value” meal choices at the chain fast food places and much better food.  Compared with other gourmet burger places in South Lincoln, for what you get it was a great deal.  I plan on going back to try the other things on the menu.  They have a lunch special every day that ranges between $5-6 and chef specials on the weekend that they post to their Facebook and Twitter pages.

 

Update 10/05/12:  Since this original post I have been back to Greta’s probably a dozen times.  The Greta Burger (Blue Cheese) is my favorite.  The balsamic burger is my second favorite.  It really is the best burger in town in my opinion and the opinion of many people I have brought with me.  The potato salad is a great side, and the baked beans are to die for.  They are more of a cowboy bean with several different types of beans, and small pieces of meat.   I also recommend getting their house Iced Tea.   It is a black tea, but just a great blend.  Nothing fruity just great simple Iced Tea.  The specials on many of the other days are very good as well.  You really can’t go wrong with anything at Greta’s.  

Pepperjax Grill, Lincoln NE Review

On 11-22-11 I visited PepperJax Grill (2801 Pine Lake Road, Lincoln NE) with my family at 6:30pm for dinner. This is a new Philly sandwich place very near my house. I would call it custom made to order fast food, similar to the way Chipotle makes their burritos. The line was long, way past the queuing area, past the front door and bending into the dining section. There were roughly 64 people in front of us when we got in line. To be honest I am surprised we waited, as there are other good options nearby (Crave review to come sometime soon I hope). It took about a half hour to get up to the first station where you place your order.

The Food:
Your choices at the beginning are your choice of meet (beef, or chicken), single or double meat, and then your choice of vegetables that are grilled along with the meat (onion, mushroom, green pepper). Your food is grilled in front of you as it moves down the assembly line. At the end they slap some cheese on the meat and pile it into a slightly toasted 12” hoagie roll.
The sauce table follows the cash register and is filled with lots of great stuff. They had several liquid sauces such as Au jus, mushroom sauce, and creole. Then they had toppings/sauce such as Spicy Ranch (my personal favorite), ranch, hearty steak sauce, bold steak sauce, salsa, mustard, ketchup, and many more.
I experimented and found that my perfect mix that night was a bit of au jus, followed by some bold steak sauce inside, followed up with a bit of spicy ranch in place of mayo. This combination proved to be very messy but good. Probably not the best food choice for a first date, but it would be a fun date place because of all the different choices and things to try. I really enjoyed the French fries. They were thin, straight cut, and fried to a perfect crisp. Portions of fries were small by most places standards but with such a large Philly I found that it was about the perfect amount. All of the toppings/sauces were great for dipping too.

Decor and Atmosphere
The place had a nice feel with bright colors, stainless steel, etc. The décor on the walls was neat too. It was many historic photos of Lincoln from the 1950’s and older. It was neat to see the evolution of town while waiting in line. They also had flat screen TVs in a few places as well.

Value
This place is a good value. The sandwiches are large (See picture below) and could easily be split for 2 meals if you ate a portion size with some fries. I believe the cost was about $5.50 for the beef, fries were an additional $1.50 or so. I am guessing that this place will be busy at lunch because of the good value and large portions.

The Cons
There were a few things that do need improving though. This is a new place and it was obvious that staff was still being trained on what their responsibilities are, so I am really hoping these problems will improve with time. The lines were long, and slow, let’s hope that the hype of a new place dies down and the employees are trained. While the grill team had multiple people, it was essentially made one at a time. I think they will need to improve on the workflow to speed things up to reasonable standards (10 min). The floor was dirty, lots of crumbs, some used napkins, etc. Tables were relatively clean though. I am sure this is just because they were super busy.

To sum it all up, I enjoyed my time at PepperJax Grill. I really think they will smooth out the few problems and have a lean, fast operation up in maybe another month. The food was good for fast food, and a great

MEElectronics M9 Review

Intro
Last week I made a bit of an impulse buy. I was not really in the market for new in hear earbuds/monitors but I bought some. Previously I had been using the older of my 2 pair of Sennheiser CX300s. I have had these for probably 4-5 years and really liked them. Recently I thought one ear as not outputting as much sound as the others and they had become more muddy in tone. I have been listening to a lot of podcasts and audiobooks recently so it was still ok. Well I was browsing around on Slickdeals and saw a thread all about new in ear monitors in this under $30 price range. Recently it seems that there are a lot of new upstart companies that are making fantastic sounding products for fractions of the price.

Build Quality
The build quality of the M9s are quite good. The heads are a hard metal shell and the metal looks to be anodized. I ended up with the silver buds because they were a little cheaper than black. The cord seems pretty sturdy. It is kind of slick feeling so hopefully this helps avoid knots. The cord is in a Y configuration. This is a personal preference but I much prefer the J cord style of the CX300’s. This will take a little getting use to. The plug end is bent at a 45 degree angle and I think this will work well for people who wrap the phones around a device or put the device in a pocket while using it. For my devices its a nice tight fit that really clicks in. The one area I can ding build quality is the speaker grill area. On my CX300’s its made of a wire mesh, on the M9 it looks to be a cardboard cover. I am a little concerned with how this will hold up over time, especially with sweat. I like to wear my IEM while biking.

Sound Quality
I would categorize myself somewhere between enthusiast and audiophile. I don’t have the budget to spend thousands on speakers and headphones every year but do enjoy quality. I would say I favor bass but like crisp clear full range either. Muddy strong bass for me is a pass. I tested with a variety of music. I am recently into electronic,dubstep, house stuff, but balanced this with Tech N9ne new album “All 6’s & 7’s” because of the hard hitting base but sharp clear fast lyrics. I also used Silversun Pickups, Incubus, and John Mayer. The later because this is an excellently mastered album with fine detail in the guitars.

The M9’s are advertised as for bass heads and I would not argue with that. The bass is strong but not overpowering for my taste. The bass improved as the headphones burned in (See below) the bass becamse more accurate and cleaner. The mids and highs are very crisp, with the highs maybe being too crisp and strong for my liking. This can be improved with EQ but isnt a huge thing. I think I will get use to it the more I listen. I prefer the crispness to the not as crisp mids and highs of my CX300s.

The soundstage is pretty good for in ear ear buds. Its no where nearly as large as my Sennheiser 595 cans but there is several factors of price difference too. The soundstage is large and improvement over the cx300’s.

These headphones do need a burn in period in my opinion. I was not impressed with them on first listen but I played music through them over night for 2 nights and the phones improved quite a bit. Tones mellowed out and some of the harshness of the mids and highs wore off. I would think the more I use them the more this will improve.

Fit/Noise Reducing ability
Many people do not like in ear headphones because of the fit. They say they the sound quality is poor. This is 100% down to fit. Companies need to really stress this in instructions. Without the proper fit all in ear earbuds will sound terrible. The proper fit transforms them. This said I am still experimenting with the fit of my M9’s. I really want the double flanged versions to work for me but I don’t think it will for me because they are a bit large. I do wish they had a couple of sizes of the double flanged versions but for the money your still getting a great value.
These are a ported design. The port is directly opposite of the speaker driver. It is a small hole in the metal housing. My CX300s were sealed and this worked great for noisy things and riding my bike into the wind. The ported design of the M9 still seemed to work pretty well when mowing but I did have some trouble when riding my bike. The wind noise was more noticeable than I expected. I may stick with my second pair of CX300s when riding at windy times.

Other
The amount of extras these come with is impressive for the price. The case is nice, I don’t see using it much as its not big enough to put a phone or ipod touch into, but you could fit a shuffle easily into it. The airplane adapter is super nice. I have always wanted one of these but don’t travel enough to buy one. Looking forward to trying it out. They came with 3 sizes of one flange ear tips in the bass boost (black) silicone, 1 size of double tip bass boos material. Also 1 pair of double flange tips in a balanced silicone (gray). I found the little covers a little hard to fit on but they all seem to stay.

Comparison to the CX300’s
My CX300’s have been my old reliable workhorse. I do everything in them without worry. I accepted their falts of having some muddy sound (Part of this was due the excessive wear I think I might have on my original pair). I must say that the new M9’s are better just about everywhere and I wont hesitate recommending these to anyone in the market for in ear buds for $20.

Conclusion
I bought my M9’s at Amazon for $16.99 and for the money I would say these are a fantastic value. These are so much better than any of the included headphones that come with any music player it really should be an automatic upgrade for anyone. While I have not experienced the really high end in earbuds and IEM’s I can say that the M9’s as a whole are the best I have heard. They are not without falts but I think I will get use to some of these. Time will tell how much I end up using them in the next few months. For less than $20 its very hard to go wrong.

Will update with a photo tonight.

Pinball Deluxe – Best Android Game to date

Yes Pinball Deluxe is the best Android game to date in my opinion. I know that this is almost sac-religious to say it is better than Angry Birds but to me it is.  I have nothing wrong with Angry Birds and think its a great game.  Before the most recent update however it was kind of jerky on my Motorola Droid X, and it displayed in game advertisements that got in the way, however it did have great game play and is an enormous value with the amount of game play it offers.

Pinball Deluxe is a Free Game for the Android platform. The game contains 3 different pinball machines each with their own different theme.  Each pinball board contains a mini game which I have not seen in many other pinball games before.  Its a neat little thing to set it apart from the others.   The game has your classic flippers at the bottom of the board and then on some levels middle flippers higher up as well.  This game runs very well.  It is super smooth on my Droid X and looks great while doing it.  It is safe to say this is the best looking Android game I have seen.  In addition to the game running well the designers have really thought it out.  You can pause and resume your games so you can come back later.  It also asks you on start-up if you want to enable sound.  This is a must have feature as far as I am concerned.  I often like to pull out my phone if I am in line and the last thing I want is the opening music to come blaring on.  Since Android has different volume levels for different items its easy to leave your phone on vibrate but have the media volume on a high level.  I have heard stories of people in public places where they probably should not be gaming on their phone (Church) and they suddenly hear the Angry Birds theme song start up someplace in the room. I am sure this happens in college classrooms across the country as well.  So this game prevents that.


The Physics in the game seem to be very accurate.  The ball and paddle behave the way you expect them too.  Different surfaces and materials behave differently and velocity seems to be accurate as well.

The only negative I can come up with is with the ball Launcher/Plunger.  I would like some type of power meter here so I can tell how powerful the launch will be.  Currently it shows a spring that compresses but

Conclusion: At a 7.6Mb download and a price of Free this is a great game that all Android users running 2.1 or higher should try.  In my opinion the developer could easily add additional boards and charge for them.  You can download it in the Android Market here https://market.android.com/details?id=com.greencod.pinball.android&feature=search_result

Below are a few screen shots from the game on my phone.  I will try to get a few better ones.

Offutt Air Force Base Air Show 2010

The annual Offutt Airshow this year was on August 28th and 29th.  I went on the 29th with @Rossnelson and had a great time.  Security was really tight, we had to go through metal detectors and then most people were wanded after, they did not give second chances of removing more metal to go through again.  They were also  not allowing bags in so I had to carry my camera around my neck the entire day and only bring one lens.  I brought the 70-200 and was glad I did.  One last thing about the security was that Ross was wearing a t-shirt from the band Bad Religion and he got a talking to going through security about it.  The guard thought he might be trying to make a political statement and said he may have to turn it inside out if asked to do so. Luckily other service men knew of the band and let us through.  Security was nearly as tight as an airport.  I guess this was because we were on an active air force base.

The day was long and hot, people took cover as the day went on under the wings of aircraft.  I loved seeing people sitting in lawn chairs under the huge wings of a B-52 or under the fuselage of a B1.  We walked around and saw all the static planes which were too many to list.  We then watched the aerial show which was good.  My favorite by far was the F-22 Raptor. It was such an impressive fighter plane. The thrust vectoring really made it very maneuverability and agile.  It also was so stable at any speed it seemed.

This was the first time shooting anything similar to sports on with my Canon 7D.  I used Al Servo and a combination of Auto focus Expansion when on the center point. It put emphasis on the center point (or where ever you wanted it) but also included one above, below, left and right.  It worked well. for slower moving planes.  For the really fast ones I used the new zonal function AF selection and choose the center group. This grabbed the center 11 points and used them. As long as you kept the points on the object and the AF drive engaged (I did this manually with the AF button) it worked well.  I was amazed at how well it would track planes coming at you quickly or going away from you.  The hardest part was panning quick enough to keep it in frame.  For sports this camera is a huge step up from my old Canon 20D.

Here are a few photos from the day more can be seen at Flickr in this set here.

More can be seen at Flickr in this set here.

Security the Family PC

This story was Originally Posted at HijinksInc.com by me, the author.

The SANS center also known as the Internet Storm Center is a volunteer organization dedicated to computer and Internet security. They rely on volunteers to detect problems, analyze threats and provide technical and procedures to the general public and IT professionals to address these threats. I visit their website at https://isc.sans.edu/ daily to see the new threats that I need to be aware of as a general PC user and an IT professional at work. It is very well known in the security community of posting quality information in a very timely manner.

They have designated October as Cyber Security Awareness Month and have dedicated that efforts this year will be focused on “Securing the Person”, in other words they are talking about the human element of security. These things go beyond the everyday security practices of “Run a Firewall” but should be helpful for anyone who does any technology trouble shooting. I plan on highlighting some of each days topics that I think will be most helpful for readers adding comments and other thoughts along the way.

Today’s topic is “Securing the Physical Family PC”. Anyone who has a computer at home should consider implementing at least some of these tips. They are designed for families but most can apply to anyone. I will talk more about general computer security such as software updates, network security, etc in my next post.

  • Backup your computer.
    • In my opinion this is the most overlooked area in home computing today. We live in a digital world today, with most people owning a digital camera, purchasing digital content (music, movies, software, games, etc) but they fail to prepare for problems. Computers have problems from time to time, hard drives and other hardware fail, computers become infected with viruses and malware, acts of God (Flood, Fire, Tornado), and theft all happen. What would you do if your house burned down? Would all of your digital photos, turbotax records, music from the past 5 years burn with it? The answer should be no. Backing up for protection from a hardware failure is easy with a local copy on another hard drive but it is not perfect because it does not protect against theft and acts of God, a more perfect solution involves an offsite backup. Many online cloud solutions are good for this, each service is a bit different and has pro’s and con’s. My favorite of the moment is Backblaze but other good options are Mozy and Carbonite. Take a look at them and consider implementing something on your computer today. All of these services offer encryption and trial periods. With any cloud based backup solution the initial backup may take days but in the end it is worth it. On my list of To Blog about topics includes a couple of backup articles. More will follow.
  • Use an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) for PCs, laptops have their own built-in UPS – the battery.
    • Many people understand that a computer should be plugged into a surge protector, but a UPS is an even greater source of protection. UPS’s allow a PC to run on battery power should the power dip, or spike or go out and most initiate a safe shutdown procedure to protect your hardware from damage that would result. In the midwest they are very handy to help with extreme weather.
  • Document computer details in writing (serial number, software, receipts, BIOS password, etc.) and keep the documentation in a fireproof box or safe
    • This is very helpful information if you ever have computer problems or need to call your manufacture for support. It is also helpful for an insurance inventory. Consider storing a copy online in the cloud as well. Dropbox, Lastpass, and a Google Document (for non sensitive information) are both good ways to do this. Also keep the information up to date
  • Keep all of the hardware and software manuals, plus any software CDs/DVDs in one place that is easy to find
    • Common sens here, it makes it easy to find when you need it in a panic situation.
  • Use a cable lock to keep intruders from stealing the computer should there be a break-in
    • No device makes it impossible for a thief to steal if they really want it. A cable lock does slow someone down. This may seem overkill but works especially well in some environments (Think college dorms).
  • Throw a towel over the web cam (better: unplug the web cam)
    • The recent news story of school district that was found to be spying on students while at home by accident with the school issued laptops, integrated web cams (News stories here: Story 1, Story 2, Story 3) have brought this to the attention of the public. It is possible for a virus of malware program to do the same thing. As a result the easy solution is just to cover it up. On laptops with integrated web cams a piece of blue painters tape or sticky note works well too. Most people don’t use their web cams all the time so this is an easy way to improve general security.
  • Unless it needs to always be on, consider turning it off when not in use
    • Computers use a lot of energy and create a lot of heat. Consider shutting it off or enabling sleep or suspend mode on your operating system to control this.
  • Keep plenty of room around the PC so that air can flow through to cool it
    • Computers are hot and need lots of air moving through them for cooling. Under the desk in the corner on the dirty floor is not the best place for a PC. Out of sight, out of mind is not a good policy to follow here. At least once a year (preferably once a quarter) unplug the computer, take it outside, open up the side of the computer case, and then blow the dust out with a can of compressed air. This is easy to do and will keep the computer running much cooler. A cool computer is less likely to have stability problems and hardware failure.
  • Keep all computers in full view (no hidden machines, no illusion of privacy)
    • This one is really designed for families with children. A PC in the living room that the kids use really do allow for parents to keep an eye on what the kids are doing online. Also for younger kids who are using the computer for homework it can help to keep down the many distractions they face (IM’s Facebook, etc)

Here is a link to the original SANS article https://isc.sans.edu/diary.html?storyid=9649

Manual Lens Portrates on a Canon DSLR

I have gotten very interested (With the help of an influential friend) in some of the older classic manual lenses, so I now have a SMC Pentax 55mm F2 Type K in Pentax mount and a Jupiter 9 85mm F1.8 M42 that I have been mounting on my 7D and I wanted to try them out so I went out with a friend and had some fun around town. The 85mm is hard to focus because it has such a small DOF and its goes through 2 converters to mount on my camera so its no perfectly tight. The lens is also a bit stiff, but optically its good. I need more practice. The Pentax is a great lens & I am getting the fever for more. Its very sharp and extremely mechanical. Great little lens. Thanks to my model Megan for the great job, I could not have done it without you.


Pentax 55mm

Pentax 55mm

Pentax 55mm

Pentax 55mm

Sigma 10-20mm

Jupiter 9 85mm

Jupiter 9 85mm

Jupiter 9 85mm

Canon 50mm F1.8

Canon 50mm F1.8

To see the full gallery Click http://liquidretro.net/photo/gallery3/Megan1/

Hijinksinc – Nothing to See Here: Starcraft 2 is NOT killing graphics cards

I recently started to blog for Hijinks Inc a local technology & gadget blog. I am excited to start doing this and have several ideas of stuff to write on focusing on photograph & computer security. I hope this gives me a good reason to produce new content as well. I will be reposting articles with the permission of Hijinks Inc. Be sure to follow them on Twitter at @HijinksInc

Originially published on August 4, 2010 at Hijinks Inc

With the launch of Starcraft 2 on July 27th, 2010 people were excited to get their hands on this long awaited game. Development of the game started in 2003 and had been delayed or postponed several times due to other games Blizzard was producing at the time.
Since the launch minor issues have been growing, and today Blizzard Confirms an overheating issue. However, this story has been spun by the technology community even to the point where Slashdot picked up on it. It has been given menacing sounding titles such as “Is Starcraft II bad for your graphics card?” by ZDnet and “Is Starcraft II Killing Graphics Cards” by Slashdot. A much more appropriate title to the actual problem is one given by OverClockersClub “Starcraft 2 causing some GPU’s to Overheat”

The problem is that during some of the in-between mission screens, cut screens and menu screens are not frame capped like the actual game play is. This causes the GPU to render these screens as fast as possible. Since these screens are simple and, for the most part, static, the computer has an easy time and is able to render these very quickly causing the GPU to heat up. This increased heat and power consumption exposes flaws in Starcraft II players’ computers, causing crashes, reboots, and even some claimed GPU failures.

Now, is this Blizzard’s fault? No, it’s really not. Gamers should expect games to tax their computers; this means heat. Blizzard and other game/program publishers should expect their customers’ computers are free of dust and have adequate cooling. This supposed bug in Starcraft II only exposes existing issues with the hardware of gamers computers. The same overheating issues would be exposed with any other game or program that stresses the system, and especially the GPU. A GPU with proper cooling should be able to handle 100% load for extended periods of time with no problems. Blizzard’s fix (below) is a setting users add to a configuration file to limit the frame rate in the areas of the game where there currently isn’t one. Since Starcraft II development period was so long and the public beta was so large, I would have expected this issue to have been found and fixed in the beta. This setting should have been enabled as a global setting in the game by default. For this I hold Blizzard accountable. There is no good reason that a gamer would disable vsync unless they are running benchmarks.

Blizzard support team has issued instructions for a temporary fix and says a more permanent fix is in the works.

A temporary workaround is to go to your Documents\StarCraft II Beta\variables.txt file and add these lines:
frameratecapglue=30
frameratecap=60
You may replace these numbers if you want to.

Other good practices to fix this problem and to avoid this issue in the future are the following:

Update your graphics drivers. Graphics manufactures are constantly improving their drivers, fixing issues with new games and improving performance. ATI for example has issued a beta version of drivers 10.7 that fixes a few specific issues with StarCraft II.
Make sure your computer’s insides are clean and have adequate airflow. For a desktop PC I recommend opening up the side of the case and using compressed air to blow out all the dust. Do this at least twice a year, if not more often. Take the computer outside to do this because it creates a mess and it gets rid of the dust so the computer does not suck it up again. Doing this can easily make your computer run several degrees cooler.
If you are overclocking or are running a very high end graphics card make sure you have more than adequate cooling. During these hot summer months the ambient temperature of many homes is at its highest, causing more stress to be placed on your computer hardware. Run temperature monitoring software if you continue to have problems or want to monitor your hardware before damage occurs.
I have seen no mention of a fix on the mac platform so right now we can assume this is a PC related problem.

SC2