Monthly Archives: February 2011

The adventures of my new phone.

I’ve always tried my best to keep tabs on technology in some way. I follow some tech-savvy dudes on Twitter, and browse sites like Tested and Engadget occasionally. But, I could never keep myself up-to-date with technology. Mainly because technology can be pretty damn expensive, and that technology includes cell phones.

For about 2-3 years, I was “rocking” an old Motorola flip phone. It was really clunky, took a while to do certain options, and could browse the internet very slowly and horribly. When I hung out with friends, I was annoyed at the fact they’d have snappy phones like Blackberrys and iPhones, while I sat here messing around with my dinky flip phone, occasionally flipping it up in vague hope I’d have somebody leave me a message or something. (Nobody really ever called me or sent me any messages, I just considered it something to do while I was bored.)

So I had been wanting a smartphone. Then that nasty thing called “price” reared its ugly head once more. Even though friends had made great suggestions like phones with the Android OS, most of the Android phones were very expensive. Not only that, I was trying to be coerced out of doing a contract because I was told by my father that “services like Boost Mobile and Cricket are going to be the standard” — or something to that effect — which further clouded my decision-making. But come hell or high water I was gonna get a smart phone.

My choice was the Samsung Transform. Granted, it’s not an HTC Evo or a Nexus One, but it does what I want it to do: Browse the web, use applications like Twitter, and be able to share images and video. With the old phone, I felt separated from the internet. I know that sounds weird, but nothing sucked more than coming home to 200 unread tweets, about 100 unread Facebook messages, and several new emails after being away from the PC for a few hours at a time. I wanted to stay connected, and the Transform does just that. It even has MP3-playing capabilities, but I doubt I’d use it for anything outside of listening to podcasts, like what I use my old PSP for. The Transform may not be able to play popular Android games like Angry Birds, but I can live with that.

I know this sounds dumb and goofy, but this is literally a major milestone to me. For instance, on the 30th, after having a late birthday drink, I was able to do the following:

– Have a brief conversation with an internet friend over Twitter
– Browse Destructoid‘s news articles
– Check if there was a way to get home by mass transit, using a combination of the Maps application and Trimet‘s mobile site.

Before, I would’ve had to check Trimet’s transit tracker at nearby stops and by calling the phone number (238-RIDE), and probably get a ride home halfway as most of the buses stop service early on Sundays. Now, with my new phone, I can be confident in finding an easy way home. It works out for me more than you think it does, really.

I have a bunch of things planned for the course of the year. Ideally I want to get a job, finally learn to drive, and live out on my own. While some of those may be far off, it doesn’t hurt for me to be optimistic for a change. Certainly is better than feeling like worthless crap, anyway.

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A review of Restaurant: Impossible.

For some reason, I watch a lot of Food Network. For a while, it’s been my go-to channel when nothing’s on. Food Network has a pretty diverse schedule: Cooking shows hosted by goofy couples and fat chicks who name their show after a 1950s film, 5-6 clones of Iron Chef America, bundled with episodes of Iron Chef America and Unwrapped. It’s not the best network, but it’s better than me tuning into TruTV to see people riff on YouTube videos with “humorous” overdubbing, which is what 90% of that network’s schedule has been for the past year anyway.

I had recently heard of a new show on Food Network titled Restaurant: Impossible. A spinoff of Dinner: Impossible, hosted by well-renowned chef talentless hack Robert Irvine.

If you’re not in the know of TV chefs, Irvine was outed for being a compulsive liar: Saying he made the cake for Lady Diana, made meals at the White House, you get the idea. But it was later revealed he did no such thing. After that, his contract with Food Network was severed, his cookware line pulled, etc. But mysteriously they decided to re-hire the guy about a year later, and now he’s one of the major faces of the network, next to Guy “Don’t call me Ferry” Fieri and Alton Brown. Well, that and when Irvine was fired, Iron Chef Michael Symon took over Dinner: Impossible and supposedly made it suck more — although, I wouldn’t know, I don’t watch Dinner: Impossible that much.

So Restaurant: Impossible’s premise is that Irvine goes to failing restaurants and has two days to make it look like a competent restaurant. Sound familiar? Yeah, this show is a poor man’s Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. Not content with hiring a hack to be the face of the network, Food Network decide to rip off an existing, better show. I love Kitchen Nightmares, both its original UK version and its overblown US counterpart, and Restaurant: Impossible already has one major problem: The host. Mr. Irvine, I know Gordon Ramsay, Gordon Ramsay is a friend of mine, you sir, are no Gordon Ramsay. (I don’t know Ramsay. I wish I did, though.) Ramsay is the major reason Kitchen Nightmares is compelling, because he is literally in-your-face and brutally honest about everything. Even if he is a bit brash. So already we’re off to a rough start because of the difference in personalities between Ramsay and Irvine.

What makes this different than Kitchen Nightmares? Well, first, instead of Gordon trying the food alone, Irvine brings a posse of 3 food critics to help him taste the mediocrity. In addition, The restaurant and kitchen inspections are considerably longer than Kitchen Nightmares. Of course, this might just be the case of the episode I saw, as there was a big pile of junk in the building, and loads of bugs and rats at the place. If Gordon found this place instead, he’d scold the owners for about 10 minutes screen time, not waste half the episode looking at the condition of the place.

Other than that, it followed a lot of the boilerplate rules of Kitchen Nightmares: Chef inspects the place, puts down a plan to improve the place, redesigns the restaurant, and successfully relaunches the place. But since Irvine has two days to fix the place instead of Ramsay’s seven, you don’t get the feeling and atmosphere of the people who work at the restaurant. Hell, they seemed to be in the background while Irvine just worked with a design team to redesign the restaurant. There’s a reason this is glossed over in both Kitchen Nightmares series: this isn’t Home & Garden TV and it’s pretty boring to watch people talk about improving a restaurant’s looks. (Coincidentally, Scripps Networks, the owners of HGTV, also own Food Network.)

At the end of the episode, Irvine and the owners oversee the two day “relaunch,” and that’s it. No drama, no tension, just falls flat like a walking narcoleptic. There was no bickering between Irvine and the owner, there was no bad customers or anything like that, which is the major point of why I love Kitchen Nightmares. Even the most mediocre of Kitchen Nightmares episodes had something happening, even if it was just an annoyed customer who may or may not be an actor planted for the show.

Yeah, it’s true. I came into this show with preconceived negative opinions before I even saw it. While this is certainly better than airing hours of Food Network Challenge, Chopped and Cupcake Wars, all three of which follow rip off the Iron Chef format of making items in a short amount of time, it still smacks of unoriginality. It seems Kitchen Nightmares is still the king of “bad restaurant” shows. I hope that Restaurant: Impossible doesn’t get past a season, because I doubt they’ll have anything that rivals episodes like Dillon’s or Sebastian’s on Kitchen Nightmares.