Monday, November 29, 2010

Gelato Junction

Gelato Junction in Grand Junction, Colorado, provides a relaxing place to enjoy Italian ice cream and other desserts in the heart of downtown Grand Junction. When we were fortunate enough to visit this past weekend, we were able to relax and take some time to enjoy delicious gelato flavors. The traditional ice cream banana splits and the malts were also excellent.  Gelato Junction's main page includes  information regarding Gelato Facts (gelato tends to have less butterfat than ice cream because it's made with milk and water rather than with cream and is served at a warmer temperature than ice cream), photographs of Gelato Junction, and contact information.

Gelato Junction is located at 449 Main Street in Grand Junction, Colorado.  You can see what it takes to make gelato at Gelato Junction in this YouTube video.  Another YouTube video is also available.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

DCTC's The 39 Steps

I was fortunate to be able to see the Denver Center Theatre Company's production of The 39 Steps at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts last night. This was also my first time to see a show in the ~250 seat Ricketson Theatre.

There were many things to like about DCTC's "The 39 Steps." The numerous characters in the story were played primarily by four cast members and I laughed as much at their switching between roles as the jokes and comedic lines. In some cases, the comedic lines involved the fact that it was a cast of four. This is not like any Alfred Hitchcock production I have ever seen. It did have a taste of the Hitchcockian suspense, but the silliness of this particular production made me laugh and smile throughout. The audience was really into the humor and antics of the cast. This version of The 39 Steps was significantly more humorous than the movie version.

Not only did I enjoy the humor injected by the ridiculousness of having only four people play multiple roles (even in some scenes with more than four characters), but I also enjoyed how scenes from the movie "The 39 Steps" were interwoven with the telling of the story. As a Hitchcock fan, I also enjoyed film and verbal references to Hitchcock classics such as North by Northwest, Vertigo, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Birds, and Psycho.

I also enjoyed the Ricketson Theatre. It's a smaller theater, but I like being able to go into the theater in one of two different doors depending on which side of each row the seats are on. There was also more leg room in this theater than in some of the other DCPA theaters.

I'll admit some hesitancy in attending "The 39 Steps" because the movie is not one of my favorite Hitchcock movies (I like the above listed ones, Rear Window, and others better). I was pleasantly surprised to see this production take the best features of the film and make it even more entertaining to watch with the added humor of various types. It was a very nice surprise. This is such a fast-paced production that I never had the opportunity to day dream or nod off and was fully engaged the entire time.

Here are other reviews (all positive) of the Denver Center Theatre Company's "The 39 Steps":

By the way, Hitchcock's movie The 39 Steps can currently be streamed via NetFlix's streaming that I have previously blogged on.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Scoma's Restaurant (Sausalito)

While in San Francisco for JavaOne 2010 last week, we went to Sausalito for a half day after doing the Alcatraz Tour. Sausalito is a nice little town with a tourist-oriented main street walkway. It boasted beautiful views of Angel Island, San Francisco Bay, and the city of San Francisco. One of the highlights of our half day there was eating lunch at Scoma's Restaurant.

Scoma's Restaurant is located literally on the water and the building is listed in the national registry of historical buildings. They serve excellent fresh seafood in an elegant atmosphere. For what one gets in terms of food, attentive service, and ambiance, the prices are reasonable. Not surprisingly, this restaurant performs reasonably well in the various online reviews available.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Honey Honey Cafe and Crepery

I was in San Francisco for JavaOne 2010 last week and enjoyed many aspects of the city, not the least of which was breakfast twice at Honey Honey Cafe & Crepery. We spotted this place on the corner of Post and Taylor on the way to some tourist attraction from the hotel at which we were staying (Warwick San Francisco Hotel), which was in the same block.

The menu is on a huge board hanging from the wall and boasts a wide variety. We had breakfast both times we were there, but tried several different things and they were all excellent. The orange juice was particularly tasty and was freshly squeezed by a machine on the spot. It was like sticking a straw into the orange and drinking the juice out of it. The food is excellent, the location is nice, and the prices are reasonable. We'll definitely make this a must-visit restaurant the next time we're in San Francisco. They also have Wifi available.

Honey Honey Cafe & Crepery is currently ranked #40 of 3070 restaurants in San Francisco on Trip Advisor.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Installing Google Chrome on 64-bit Windows 7

I kept getting an "Unknown Installer Error" when trying to run ChromeSetup.exe after downloading it from the main Google Chrome download page.  The only way I could get it to work was to download it via Google Pack for Windows 7.

The Google Pack includes free software beyond Google Chrome such as Firefox with Google Toolbar, Google Picasa, Google Earth, Adobe Reader, Google Apps, and Google Desktop.  This provides a single convenient mechanism for downloading several useful free products for a new machine or machine requiring installation of new software.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Why I Like NetFlix

I have used NetFlix since 2004 and have been very happy with the service. In this blog post, I briefly look at some things NetFlix has done to keep my business.

The Model

One of the things that I have been happy about with NetFlix is its model.  This was what attracted me to sign up for the service in the first place and it continues to meet my needs well.  Being able to create a queue of movies to see and have them mailed directly to my home is convenient.  It was so nice to be freed from the burden of standing in line at Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, or other video store outlet.  It was also a welcome relief to have such easy access to such a wide variety of movie titles without the limitation of the physical size of a store.  There is no question that the NetFlix model, combined with the Redbox concept and the relatively cheap availability of DVDs and Blu-ray discs, has led to the downfall of the brick-and-mortar video stores.  There are few businesses I know of that had abused their own customers as much as these stores, so I think many of us are glad to see them going away.

In recent years, NetFlix has demonstrated a commitment to providing modern convenience in movie access.  The availability of a subset of their movie inventory via streaming on Wii, PlayStation 3, and select Blu-ray players is their latest effort to improve an already convenient model for accessing movies.  Not all movies in their inventory are available for streaming, so I find myself using a combination of discs by mail and streaming. It is nice to know, though, that NetFlix is continuing to make movies available in a modern, convenient manner.

Automatic Price Reduction

Years ago, I received an e-mail message from NetFlix stating that they were lowering my automatically charged monthly subscription fee because they were offering the lower monthly subscription fee to new customers.  How many providers of a monthly service have ever done that for you?  I cannot think of another.  Whether it be long-distance in the old days, cable or satellite service, cellular telephone service, or any other such service, it has always seemed to be that a current customer had to threaten or actually quit the service to get the reduced rates offered to new customers.  I didn't have to do this with NetFlix.

The Bonus Discs

Something NetFlix has recently done is to provide a fourth disc to have at home (I'm on the three-at-a-time plan) more than once.  This was not the most significant reason to me for staying with NetFlix, but it is another small thing to add to the reasons why I've been a satisfied customer of NetFlix for many years.


There are many reasons to like NetFlix.  Their service is convenient, relatively economical (especially when considering the streaming at no extra charge), and provides easy access to a wide library of movies.  It has also been refreshing to deal with a company like NetFlix which seems to understand that the secret to keeping customers even when the customers have competitive alternatives is to do the little things correctly.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

AMC's Weekday Escape Discounts

I've taken advantage of AMC Movie Theaters' weekend and holiday morning deals for some time: movies starting before noon on Friday-Sunday and on holidays have been $5 or $6 regardless of how new the movie is (with up-charges for extras like 3D or IMAX). Now, AMC has extended that deal to cover Monday through Thursday and, even better, for all day on those four weekdays.

The AMC Weekday Escape works similarly to the weekend/holiday before noon deal and does have an "Upcharge for IMAX, IMAX 3D, Digital 3D, ETX, ETX 3D, premium locations, and special presentations." It is also important to note that movies with a weekday opening day (like this week's Twilight Eclipse) are not part of this deal the week they come out.

See the AMC Weekday Escape page for more details.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Northglenn Auto Repair

I like to make recommendations in this blog (after all, it's part of the blog's title) and after taking vehicles to Northglenn Auto Repair several times over the past few years, I can enthusiastically recommend this "full service auto repair shop" to anyone looking for general automobile maintenance and repair.

Most of us are looking for three things when trying to decide where to have our vehicles serviced: knowledgeable/skilled mechanics, honesty, and convenience/timeliness. My wife and I and friends of ours who have also taken vehicles to Northglenn Auto Repair agree that we have found all three of these positive attributes there.

We have appreciated the timeliness and convenience of Northglenn Auto Repair, but have been especially impressed with the work done there and with the honesty we've experienced in our dealings with them. We have felt like the only work done has been work that needed to be done and it has been done correctly. We even had one experience where we were told that a particular service did not need to be performed. In tight economic times like we're currently living in, it's more important than ever to not spend money on unnecessary services.

Here is Northglenn Auto Repair's location and contact information:

Northglenn Auto Repair
10650 Irma Drive, #18
1901 Leroy, Unit A
Northglenn, CO 80233
Telephone: 303-452-1512

A skilled and fair mechanic is something I have found is best discovered via word of mouth and via reputation among previous/current customers. I recommend Northglenn Auto Repair for anyone in the Denver metro area looking for a good general auto repair shop.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Dish: An Underappreciated Movie

Some of my favorite movies are the favorites of many other people as well and are very well-known: The Empire Strikes Back, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws, Men in Black, Fletch, Sherlock Holmes, Groundhog Day, Uncle Buck, Ocean's Eleven (2001), The Italian Job (2003), Toy Story, The Sixth Sense, North by Northwest, Batman Begins, Ironman, The Princess Bride, The Shawshank Redemption, and so on. However, every once in a while I enjoy that rare pleasure of seeing a movie that I've never heard of that takes me by surprise and becomes one of my favorites despite it's not being well known. Such was the case when I took a chance on The Dish on NetFlix (NetFlix currently streams it as well). I ended up purchasing it on DVD immediately afterward because I liked it so much.

There are many things to like about The Dish. It provides that rare mix of "effortless" humor ( editorial review), inspiration, interesting story, historical interest, and is just plain entertaining. It's one of those movies I like to watch when nothing else sounds good. It's not as fast-paced as movies like Ironman nor as humor-laden as Fletch, Men in Black, or Uncle Buck, but it is really faster-paced than one might expect when hearing about the story and has enough humor to make one smile and even laugh throughout. In fact, I had to watch it two or three times to catch all the humor. It is not really a suspenseful movie, but it does have its moments of suspense.

The current Internet Movie Database rating for The Dish (7.1/10 on 8528 votes) describes my experience with this movie. A relatively small number of people have seen it, but it is widely popular among those who have. For comparison, Avatar currently has an 8.4/10 rating on nearly 242 thousand votes and The Empire Strikes Back has a rating of 8.8/10 on nearly 270 thousand votes.

This Australian-produced movie had a U.S. box office gross of a little over $2 million. Contrast this with The Empire Strikes Back's nearly $300 million U.S. take and Avatar's $700 million+ take. Even The Princess Bride, which seemed to take on a cult following after its run in the theaters, pulled in nearly $27 million in the U.S.

Even the critics like The Dish, which earned a relatively rare 96% rating on the Rotten Tomatoes' Tomatometer. I sometimes like movies the critics generally pan and sometimes dislike movies that critics all rave about, but I am in agreement with the consensus of the critics on the Tomatometer about "The Dish." Only 126 reviewers have currently rated The Dish on, but the cumulative rating is well above 4 stars out of five.

"The Dish" is one of those movies that puts me in a better mood after I have finished watching it than I was in when I started watching it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Google and Pac-Man Thirtieth Anniversary

I often like the various artistic renderings of the Google logo on its primary search page in honor of various events, birthdays, and other significant days. Today's may be my favorite yet: the Google logo is presented as a working Pac-Man game in honor of the 30th anniversary of Pac-Man. I remember when this game came out and the phenomenon that it was and still is today. This rendering of the Google logo as a working Pac-Man game is a fitting tribute to the significance of this game in video game history, is nicely nostalgic, and is both fun and technically interesting in its dynamic nature.

Here is a screen snapshot of the search page when it first comes up. Using the arrow keys allows one to actually play the game on the Google logo-based maze.

When you click on the button that normally says "I'm feeling lucky" (but says "Insert Coin" today), you get the opportunity to have two players play with the second player being Ms. Pacman if you had already started playing.

According to the Official Google Blog post Celebrating PAC-MAN's 30th Birthday, this Pac-man Google logo has earned the right to be present for two days. Even when Google's Pac-Man logo is gone, the effect of Pac-Man on pop culture even today is evident by searching for "free Pac-man" on the Google search engine.

The only problem with all of this is that I got caught up in playing Pac-Man again and forgot what it was that I had gone to the Google search engine to search for in the first place!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Spokeo: Personal Information Aggregation

The Spokeo web site defines itself as a "search engine specialized in organizing people-related information from phone books, social networks, marketing lists, business sites, and other public sources." The site combines details available from various publicly available sources online into a single location. For example, it aggregates residence photographs provided by Google Maps with details from various social sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

Not surprisingly, some people have privacy concerns about the ready availability of all this personal information in one place. Spokeo makes it possible to opt out of having one's information made available via its Privacy page (there is a link to this on the bottom of Spokeo's main page). The important thing to realize, however, is that Spokeo is just aggregating this information; it's still going to be out there and available even if its reference is removed from Spokeo. This is why I'm surprised when I see people revealing so many personal details online. Once it's out there, you cannot get it back. After all, this is what the people behind the site wanted to remind us.