Category Archives: Review

A great night of music (Jimmy Buffett Review)

As I mentioned in my last post, I went to see Jimmy Buffett tonight at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA. I learned last week that Toots and the Maytals would be opening for him. Susan and I decided we’d tailgate and make a whole afternoon/evening/night of it. We made burgers to bring with us, along with our grill and I brought some of the Flying Dog beer I bought yesterday. I’ll start with the beer because that’s how the night started… Continue reading A great night of music (Jimmy Buffett Review)

Another Brooklyn Beer…

This time it’s Brooklyn’s Brown Ale. I’ve been buying a lot of brown ales lately in my quest to find beers that Susan will enjoy (I’m determined to get her to drink more so I don’t feel like an alcoholic… that and so that she knows what she likes when we’re out). Unfortunately, she wasn’t crazy about this one. However, I liked it. It’s a very no frills beer. It’s just a plain old brown session ale, similar in flavor to Harpoon’s (get this) Brown Session Ale. It’s a reddish brown color with a decent head. The taste is slightly nutty and roasted malts are definitely present. There’s a slight hops bitterness to add a little balance to it. That’s about all you get. It’s not trying to be anything crazy or different, but it’s a good solid session beer. I can see myself putting back a few of these in a… well… session. If you like brown ales, you’ll probably like this one.

Tomorrow will bring us some other beers… I have 2 brown ales left (though one is Susan’s as she does like Sam Smith’s Nut Brown, and the other is Smuttynose’s Old Brown Dog Ale, which has a bit more flavor and is a bit “maltier” than the Brooklyn, and as such, Susan does like it). Of the beers I have left, only one is new to me. I’ll probably have that one tomorrow.

Continuing down my 12 pack mix…

Today’s beer was Post Road Pumpkin Ale from Brooklyn Brewery. It was very pale/amber ale-ish. There wasn’t anything really spectacular about it. It had a very slight pumpkin spice taste to it, but it was barely noticeable. There was a slight hops presence to add a little bitterness and flavor, but it had a pretty malty character to it. It was good, but about average. That was my first, of what I assume will be several, pumpkin beers this fall. I had only one last year and I want to say it was from Gritty McDuff, though it could’ve been Smuttynose. Whichever it was (I’ll be getting one of each of those this fall), it had a lot more pumpkin presence to it and was extremely good. Of the Brooklyn beers I’ve had, this was the lease impressive and most average. Next time I get beer, I’ll be sure to get a few pumpkin ales and maybe an oktoberfest or 2 (though I’m not as big a fan of the oktoberfests/marzens as I am of a good pumpkin ale). Tomorrow’s beer will likely be a brown ale (continuing with the Brooklyn beers I picked up).

2 Beers You Should Try…

I like beer, as can be seen by some of my previous posts and by the tagline of this blog. I am lucky to have Nikki’s Liquors nearby to fill my craft beer needs. I recently picked up 2 mix-a-6’s from Nikki’s with a bunch of beers I haven’t tried (and a couple favorites). I’m going to write about 2 of them. If you can find these beers at a package store nearby, you should try them. One is widely available, the other, I’m not so sure.

Anchor Porter, pretty widely available, is perhaps the best porter I have tried. It’s nicely carbonated, thick black, and all roasted malt with a slight bitterness to it. It’s about as perfectly porter as you can get before it becomes a stout. The only other porter I’ve had that was this good was Smuttynose’s Robust Porter. It’s very similar in flavor and thickness, with less carbonation. Both are amazing porters, both are a must try.

Oskar Blues Old Chub is an awesome Scottish style ale. It has a very carmel-y malty roasted chocolate flavor to it. It almost tastes like it was aged in oak barrels as it has that nice oak/whiskey flavor to it. I’ve had only a couple Scottish ales previously (from Sam Adams and Trinity Brewhouse). I’ve liked all that I’ve tried and this one was definitely the best of the 3. If you can find it, buy some. Don’t be put off by the can that it comes in. Cans do not equate to macro piss beer. In this case, it equates to a nice tastey powerful brew. At 8% abv, this isn’t for the lightweights (though one wouldn’t hurt…).

As I go through the rest of the beers in the mix, I’ll write more about them. Just for reference, the first 2 before these 2 were New England Brewing’s Sea Hag IPA, which also came in a can and, while good, was just your average IPA, and Victory’s HopDevil Ale, which is one of my favorite IPA’s (second only to Great Divide’s Titan IPA with Haverhill Brewery’s Leatherlips IPA coming in at a very very close third). Needless to say, my favorite style is the almighty IPA. Yes, I am a hophead.

6 Months with Office 2007

I made the switch to Office 2007 about 8 months ago at home and about 6 months ago at work. I decided that if I’m going to have to support it, I need to know it. Here’s my thoughts.

First, the ribbons and lack of menus was a bit daunting at the beginning. After using it for a while, I’ve gotten used to it and I have actually found the ribbons to make a whole lot more sense than the menus. Everything is where it should be rather than where Microsoft decided it should be (I realize they decided the ribbons as well, but they make more sense than many of the menus in previous versions of Office). Because everything is easier to find now, I’ve found that my productivity when using Office products has increased. You can still get to the various menu items when necessary, but the most common commands, many frequently hidden in menus, are now right at your fingertips.

Another major change is that the switch to XML-based files has decreased the file size for documents, especially in Excel.

The Office button (the big button in the upper left of the window) is the only thing that can be a bit confusing for people, as well as the quick access buttons next to it in the title bar. I had to customize that (which is easily done) to get the more common commands that I frequently use available (Print Preview, Print, Save, New File) as the default buttons there weren’t everything I use frequently. That will come to be an issue for those people who aren’t power users, like myself, but expect easy access to some of those buttons that were on the toolbar in previous versions.

Outlook adds a To-do task pane on the right hand side with easy access to the calendar, task list, and upcoming appointments. It’s a really nice feature and prevents you from having to go back and forth between your mail and your calendar just to check on appointments. Outlook is also the only Office application that still has menus. My guess is that is because the program itself doesn’t have any actual file manipulation until you go and write a message. The ribbons are present on the message creation windows, but not Outlook itself.

I don’t really have anything bad to say about Office 2007 (I’m really not a Microsoft fanboi, I just really like the new stuff). Having a new file format is a pain to deal with, but with the converter for Office 2003, it seems to work just fine (except with Access, which has always had its own issues). I’m glad I made the switch and I’m sure most people, after using it for a while and getting used to the ribbons, will feel the same way.

8 Months with Vista

I’ve been using Windows Vista for about 8 months now on my HP nc8430 laptop. It started out a bit rocky, but now I wish I had Vista at home.

When I first installed it, I performed an upgrade to my XP installation. It went as smooth as can be, though it took an awfully long time. I found out later that it was actually moving files around to new directories (Documents and Settings became Users, for example). I decided I wanted to add an additional GB of RAM. Someone gave me a stick that was leftover from some other laptops that got upgrades. It seemed to work out fine when I installed it for a while, but then things got a bit wacky. My computer became basically unusable. I tried pulling it out, but the damage was done. I guess Vista didn’t like it because I decided I wasn’t going to leave it in and performed a full format and install from scratch. This install was the fastest Windows install I had every seen. In half an hour, I had a fully functional installation and none of the issues that I had from that memory remained.

I began installing drivers and applications that I used regularly. The only one that gave me any issue was Dreamweaver MX. It always set off the UAC (which I’ll go into more later) and it always required me to reset the path to my saved site because it is on a network drive. This was fixed when I installed the latest version of Dreamweaver (CS2 or CS3 I believe).

UAC, or User Account Control, isn’t as bad as people say. If you’re a power user, administrator, or just like to play with settings, you’ll run into it regularly. If you’re just an average user, you probably won’t see it much. I see it all the time because Active Directory controls set it off and I’m always resetting passwords for people. Other than that, it’s not a big deal and I really don’t mind. I left it on to see how annoying it would get, and it’s nowhere near annoying as the Apple ads would lead you to believe.

Now, the only issue I saw with running Vista was that my RAM was always sitting at about 50-60% usage. This is because of the indexing of files. It gives it up when other programs need it, so I don’t really mind. The thing that annoyed me, though, was that my computer took forever to startup. I found out later that this was due to the driver for the fingerprint reader and HP’s ProtectTools Security Manager (it ended up losing my identity for my domain account and I had to login to my other account to uninstall those drivers and the ProtectTools). After getting rid of that HP stuff, it started up a whole lot faster. I imagine HP has some work to do on the Vista tools and drivers.

Some features of Vista that I really like include the desktop search, the crash protection (when an application crashes, it won’t take the OS with it), the new networking center, Aero (it’s sexy, I like eye candy, what can I say?), and the new Start Menu setup. I don’t like that it uses so many resources and think MS could have worked on that a bit. I am also not a huge fan of Media Player 11, though it does its job and nicely organizes music.

Of all the different versions of Windows I’ve used (starting around 3.1 for Workgroups and using every one of them through Vista, including NT 4.0, and 2000), this is my favorite. It seems to work the best, even though my laptop only has 1 GB of RAM, and it seems pretty stable (though I have heard the networking stack is not so stable). If you’re getting a new computer and it comes with Windows, don’t question whether or not you should make the switch. Just do it, but don’t get a computer with less than 1 GB of RAM (though at this point, I’d probably recommend 2 GB for longevity).

Now I just need to upgrade Susan’s computer so I can put Vista on that and Ubuntu on my own (she won’t switch to Linux, and I have some Windows apps that I can’t live without… like Quicken, because GnuCash just doesn’t seem like it’d make a good replacement for me).

Next I’ll write about my experience switching to Office 2007 and fun with ribbons!

Trey Anastasio – The Horseshoe Curve (semi-review)

I had purchased Trey Anastasio’s new album, The Horseshoe Curve, and took a listen (along with the 5 song EP that came with it). I was excited when I read about it being an instrumental album, much like Seis de Mayo. Unfortunately, it wasn’t what I had expected. I would really like to see Trey get more into classical-type music. While I like the funky beats of the new album, I was hoping for something a little more refined. I have only listened to the album twice now, but I will be listening more. I will admit that I do like it the more I listen to it, but I was hoping it’d be something a little different than it is. I am very happy that Trey has dumped the major record labels and started his own label. Now if only the other 3 will follow him. Continue reading Trey Anastasio – The Horseshoe Curve (semi-review)

Tortilla Flats and Narragansett Bock Beer

Since I felt I needed some content, I figured I’d base my first content post on dinner tonight. We went to Tortilla Flats for dinner. The food there is alright, nothing special. I had a huge burrito (the Incredible Burrito). It was pretty standard Tex-Mex (I was there once before and ordered their Harvest Burrito, which was different, but also good. Continue reading Tortilla Flats and Narragansett Bock Beer