Feb 10

iPad: Poll Numbers and Spin, or Why You Should Pay Attention

I got an email from Telecom TV with the screaming headline:

Oh dear! 52 per cent of consumers don’t want an iPad

I know, right? So I click the link and start reading. Keep in mind that Martyn Warwick will never be called a fan of Apple or Steve Jobs.

?Last month, before the new device was launched, an earlier survey showed that 26 per cent of consumers who were aware of the hype surrounding the imminent arrival of the iPad had no interest in buying one.

Now a follow-up study indicates that, as the Retrevo blog puts it, Apple has suffered “a failure to convince any new buyers to consider the iPad.” It adds, “Not only did Apple fail to convince new buyers, it may have lost many potential buyers who now say they don’t think they need an Apple tablet computer.”

That’s because, to quote Retrevo again, “Consumers lost interest after the [iPad] announcement. Retrevo’s study asked consumers whether or not they had heard about the tablet before the tablet was introduced and again after the announcement. The word definitely got out as the number of respondents saying they had heard about the tablet rose from 48% shortly before the announcement to over 80% after the media frenzy on January 27th.”

Wow, right? But guess what? I’m not a tech person and I’ve never heard of Retrevo before this article. I’m not going to just take this at face value. I want to know the polling size, how the people were selected, the questions…in other words, the details. So, I searched for “Retrevo ipad survey” (without the quotes) and noticed a link to MacDailyNews at the top of the search results touting the same exact survey.

Continue reading →

Mar 08

And in entertainment news…


Last night, we watched Run, Fatboy Run.  A movie written by Simon Pegg, comedian and star of the hilarious moviesrun-fat-boy-run-poster-0.jpg Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, directed by David Schwimmer of Friends.  I expected funny.  I didn’t expect laugh out loud hilarity.  It’s a simple movie with a typical plot; boy dumps girl, girl gets new boy, old boy wants girl back, a physical contest, blah, blah, blah.  What made it enjoyable was the on point comedic timing of Pegg as Dennis.  We’re introduced to Pegg freaking out about getting married to Libby.  He has a few minutes to get downstairs for the wedding.  Instead of using the stairs, he chooses the window.  We see him running for his life, away from his pregnant bride-to-be.  Fast forward 5 years and we see him running.  This time after a transvestite who is mocking the out of shape security guard.   Running is the theme of the movie, as Dennis spends a lot of time running away from his problems.

Upon meeting his ex’s new beau, who is rich, handsome and successful, Dennis gets a little competitive for the heart of Libby.  Whit, the new boyfriend eggs on Dennis and tells him that he’s running a marathon.  Dennis says that he could run a marathon and decides to do it. He doesn’t realize that it’s 3 weeks away.  He doesn’t even realize the marathon is 26.2 miles long.  His friend Gordon, who is also Libby’s cousin and his landlord Mr. Ghoshdashtidar take up as his trainers.  You’ll recognize Gordon from Shaun of the Dead and I was thrilled to see Harish Patel as  Mr. Ghoshdashtidar.  He always cracks me up in every movie I’ve seen him in, even if he’s in a serious role (My Son the Fanatic).

In between the jokes and pratfalls, there’s a charming story on relationships.  We see Dennis grow and whether he gets the girl or not, at least we were amused by his trying.


equalrites.jpgI just finished rereading Equal Rytes, by Terry Pratchett. The first time around, the story really didn’t grab me.  I think the reason for this, is that as the 3rd book of the series, it’s a little flat compared to the hilarious first two books, The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, which both feature the unlucky Wizard, Rincewind, a tourist named Twoflower and a menacing piece of Luggage.

Equal Rites introduces us to more characters; the witch, Esme Weatherwax, offically known as Granny Weatherwax and some other wizards.  The story opens up in the town of Bad Ass (named after a very stubborn donkey) where a wizard at the end of his life is looking for the eighth son of an eighth son to pass his magic onto.  The only problem is that since there’s no ultrasound machines, they don’t know that the eighth son of an eighth son is actually the first daughter of a eighth son.  It’s not until after the wizard has bestowed his staff and his magic on the newborn do we find out the sex.  This may not be an issue in modern society, but in Discworld, women are not wizards.  It’s just not the done thing.  Granny Weatherwax keeps her eye on the girl, Eskarina, but the force is strong in this one.

Eight years later, it’s clear that the girl needs to be taught how to control her magic.  Granny agrees to take the child to Unseen University, where wizards learn to be wizards.  There’s a bizarre journey involved and the one good thing about the book is that we get to learn more about Granny Weatherwax and her stubborn ways.  She has “ideas” about things and facts don’t necessarily need to fit in with them.

Esk, as the girl is called winds up at Unseen University, as a housekeeper.  She listens in on the wizards classes, but she’s not being officially trained as a wizard.  She falls in with a boy she met on the way to the University.  Simon has ideas too, but the problem is that they attract the Things in the Dungeon Dimensions.  It’s up to Esk to use the witchcraft learned at Granny’s knee and the wizardry she’s picked up to help save Simon.

I realized now after reading all of the Discworld books why this one still leaves me feeling flat.  With the exception of Granny Weatherwax and the Librarian, none of the characters in this book appear in any of the subsequent Discword Novels.  You can read each Discworld novel as a stand alone, but what makes the series so enjoyable are the inside jokes you get with the large cast of characters.  There are other books about the witches that make no mention of this book.  The wizards play such a large part in this series, that it’s a bit strange to see a chronological storyline where the people in charge change with no reason why.  I’d be interested in seeing if Pratchett brings back Esk or Simon in later books.


I’m currently rereading Woken Furies by Richard K. Morgan.

Feb 08

Homegirl Cafe

I just got back from breakfast at Homegirl Cafe in Chinatown. I hadn’t been to the one in Boyle Heights, though I’ve driven past it. The one in Chinatown–across the street from Chinatown?–has been open for a few months now and I’ve been meaning to get there. I really wish I had my camera or at least my cell phone with me. This will be a photo-less food review.

First we went it just to get coffee ($1.50), and then I saw the bakery goods. Homeboy Bakery has a little corner where they sell desserts, muffins, and fresh made bread. Crap. I meant to pick up a loaf of the rosemary olive bread before I left. Anyway, I bought the kids a crisp ($2). It looks like pita bread dusted in sugar, it tastes like flaky bits of heaven. I ordered my coffee and then noticed a menu…with breakfast. Breakfast is served until 11am and it’s $6. 14 items on the menu and each plate is $6. I chose to have the omelet with spinach, queso fresco and morita salsa. I got it with a side of Homegirl potatoes.

The omelet is good. A little bland, but since no one in LA County can make a decent omelet, this one is utterly brilliant. The eggs were perfectly moist and had a little crepe like crust on it. Yum. Usually, I can’t eat raw spinach added into things. For some reason, my throat closes up. I still order it and I forget until I can’t breath again. So, I did it again and I tried it, but so far my throat hasn’t close up. They could use a bit more queso fresco in there and definitely some onion, but it was a good omelet. The Homegirl potatoes are your basic breakfast potatoes mixed with fried corn and onion. My first bite of the potato was ho-hum, but as you eat them, you realize there’s complexities in there. I don’t know what it’s seasoned with, but it’s quite tasty.

I also got a side of the tofu chorizo ($2). Now, anyone who knows me knows that two things I won’t eat are tofu or chorizo. For whatever reason, I absolutely love tofu chorizo. I thought my kids would too. Unfortunately, the little boy only eats 3 items and none of them were around and the girl who loves tofu refuses to eat it with “spicy stuff” mixed into it. So, I got to have the wonderfully delicious tofu chorizo all to myself. It’s served over potatoes with cilantro on top. The dish also came with a piece of baguette. The bread had sesame seeds on it which made the tofu chorizo even more interesting in your mouth.

I highly suggest you go to Homegirl Cafe if you can. One of the best bonuses: It’s right across the street from Chinatown Station served by the Gold Line.

Nov 07

Gift Idea: Wine

I’m looking at the calendar realizing that December is peeking it’s party filled head around the corner. I’m know that we’re having 3 “happenings” at our house next month and we’ve been cleaning and prepping for the past two weeks and still have tons to do. As hosts, we receive gallons of wine; we usually won’t have to buy a new bottle until mid-February. We also receive “family gifts” of wine from people. It’s obvious that some people don’t buy with us in mind. They buy because of price. That’s why we receive white wine when we don’t drink white wine. That’s why we receive wine that is little better than vinegar, because no research was done (Oddly enough even some of those bottles survived the move and are languishing in the garage or basement.).

I give wine as gifts and I try to keep track of what my friends drink. I have friends who’ll enjoy a cab, but won’t touch a pinot. We have friends who only drink white wines or worse, roses. I know a few people who only drink merlot, but would probably enjoy a sirah. I have made the incredibly stupid mistake of giving wine to a non-drinker and I still feel a little embarrassed over those times.

But still, when you walk into a store to get a bottle of wine for a party or a gift, it’s a little daunting to see all those choices. You tend to pick a price range and shoot for the low-end. I know, I watch you shop for wine. I know, because I used to do the same thing. That is until I found out about JohnG’s site quaffability. JohnG rates wines under $12 mostly from Trader Joe’s. Granted if you don’t have a TJ near you many of the wines may not be available to you. Other retailers do carry them though, just call around.

JohnG’s reviews are simple and accessible to the layperson. You know how when you get the BevMo circular and you’re looking through the one-line reviews and you see they’re all given 82+ points, but you have no idea what the points mean. And then there’s reviews like in this month’s circular:

A potent brew of dark fruit, molassases, peppery spice and Chilean terrior.

And you’re thinking, “WTF is a ‘Chilean terrior’?” I guess it means something to those 7 people who thought Sideways was a good movie. To me, it’s just gibberish and I get convinced they spelled ‘terrier’ wrong. JohnG dispels with all that nonsense. He says, “This was good with the meal I had.” and gives you accessible and normal fruits to compare it too. Even when he gets all “wine-y”, it’s still pretty fun, like the recent review of a petite sirah:

This wine offers up a shy nose of plums and spice. It’s very pleasant and silky in the mouth, with simple plum and blueberry flavors that lead to a clean though short finish. Really nice texture. This is very drinkable, tasty in fact, and a decent wine for the money, but I can’t help thinking that it’s too thin and gutless for Petite Sirah. A proper petite would bully this one mercilessly and leave it behind quivering in the corner of the playground.

Price: $9.99


I don’t particularly like sirahs, but from this description, I’m thinking this would be good with a huge steak or flavorful lamb. See how useful it is? He also helpfully includes photos of the bottle and year of vintage, so you can get the right one.

JohnG also gives random reviews of wine from CostCo and BevMo, so you’re practically covered if you live in cool liberal oases. So, if you’re faced with bringing a bottle of wine to a party or want to give wine as a gift, you’ll do well checking out quaffability first before you head out with your Under $15 gift list.