Saturday, March 25, 2017

ONLY THE GOOD STUFF: IRA'S BLEND 60


Friday, March 10, 2017

CAFE DES ARTS, BEZIERS - QUICK TAKE RESTAURANT REVIEW

It had been a busy morning. We were tired. We had to wait to do our last little bit of business in central Beziers until after lunch. So we found the Cafe des Arts just off the Allee Paul Piquet and settled in for a quick bite.

Primitive oil paintings of clowns? Really?

The waiter touted the special - a mixed salad, beef bourguignon, and dessert. Not feeling quite that hungry, we ordered off the slate. Two of us went for the bavette, two for confit de canard. French beef is French beef. If you know what to expect, you won't be disappointed. The two who ordered the bavette knew what to expect and were not disappointed. The confit was a proper joint, properly prepared. The frites were fresh, not reconstituted. The bread was grainy and crusty. Service was attentive without being intrusive. And the pink en pichet was quaffable. With two coffees at the finish, 54 euros and change.

As we left, we noticed some nicely presented plates on other tables. The pizza looked interesting and the salad well constructed. If we'd been less tired and more interested in dining, we might have been a bit more adventurous. It's hard to say if we'll return. There are so many choices in the area. But they took care of our hunger and didn't charge too much, so we have no complaints.

Worth a visit. 


Monday, February 27, 2017

LENOVO TAB 3 710F ESSENTIAL (7" Tablet): PRODUCT REVIEW

I don't normally do product reviews. You see, I'm not the typical American consumer. I live quite simply. I wring the life out of everything that I buy and only replace when I can't repair. On top of that, I'm quite the dinosaur when it comes to electronics. That's not to say that I'm not adept. I'd call myself a moderately proficient user. Before I retired, I was the in-house IT first call at my agency. When a co-worker had a problem with their desktop, they called me in and I was the one who decided if more professional (and costly) assistance was required. 80% of the time, I could find the problem and get things up and running again. And I could do more than turn it off and turn it on again.

But I don't own a smart phone. Being connected everywhere, all of the time, is not my idea of a peaceful retirement. I'm not a gamer...not even the simple Facebook stuff. And I don't stream videos from my tablet except for the occasional bits and pieces that come up on news and sports sites. When I want to watch a movie or binge Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, I hook my laptop up to my TV.

I do make significant use of my tablet, though. In the morning with my coffee, I check my email, cruise Flipboard, and scroll through the headlines on Yahoo Sports! I respond to any comments on  my Facebook page or my blog. When I go to a doctor's office or the vet or accompany The Southern Woman That I Married shopping, I bring my tablet and read from my Kindle library. And, of course, I take pictures. Seldom selfies. I know what I look like. But it is nice to have a camera handy in the south of France.

Don't worry. I'm getting to it.

My trusty Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 died recently. Yes, I'm an Android guy. And I decided to remain an Android guy. My wife's iPad is nice enough but I just don't think that it's worth the money. She'd still be using her Nexus 7 if our niece hadn't gifted her the iPad. I don't find the iPad to be intuitive to operate and I do find it to be as buggy as any other operating system if it decides to be. So when my Samsung died, I went up on the tech sites that published reviews, cruised Youtube box openings, and read buyer reviews on Amazon and elsewhere.

The object of the exercise? A simple, cost-effective internet cruiser for the purposes outlined above.

The result of my research? The Lenovo Tab 3 710F Essential. About two months ago, it was available on Amazon (.fr) for 69,99 euros plus 12,50 for a good cover with magnetic closure.

What do you get for pennies compared to the big names in tablets? In my view, a surprisingly useful device. Internet browsing is quick and efficient. 1 GB RAM and the quad core processor seem to be quite enough. I've gathered all of my email accounts into the Gmail app and never miss a missive. Flipboard loads and flips properly as do the pages of my Kindle books. The reviews give the tablet's display resolution poor marks but I find graphics crisp and clean enough. Bluetooth streaming from TuneIn to my stereo works as it should. And whether or not the cleaning program that I use regularly is helpful, after two months of several hours of daily usage I can detect no slowing.

And don't forget, although Lenovo is owned by the Chinese, it is IBMs former personal computer manufacturer, it partners with NEC to provide personal computers for the Japanese market, and is the world's most prolific unit vendor of personal computers. 

There are flaws. At 69,99 you would expect there to be. It's plastic. Well put together but plastic all the same. You really need a good case to protect your investment, minimal as it is. The volume and on/off bars are not particularly well placed but are not inaccessible. The camera isn't very good and won't save directly to a micro SD card should you choose to install one to save space on your 8 GB hard disk. I did. I solved the problem by deleting the camera app and downloading one that had the features that I wanted. I carry a camera most of the time anyway. But that's about it as far as flaws are concerned...for me, anyway. In my estimation, the Lenovo works as well as my Galaxy Tab 2 did when it was new and the Lenovo costs about one-third as much. What's not to like?

Recommended.









Sunday, February 19, 2017

VANDALISM REPORTED AT CHURCHILL'S BURIAL SITE

During a press conference at St. Martin's Church, Bladon, British Minister of Cemeteries Sir Digby Graves responded to reports of vandalism at the resting place of Sir Winston Churchill.

"The rumors of vandalism are completely without substance," declared the Minister. "The disturbances on the site were due solely to the fact that, having heard Theresa May's 12-Point Plan speech, Sir Winston turned over in his grave."

Friday, February 17, 2017

TRUMP'S NEW TRAVEL BAN ANNOUNCED

After meeting with his new Minister of Truthiness Laura Ingraham, President Donald Trump has announced that Americans will be banned from traveling anywhere outside the continental United States until further notice for their own safety.

"I'm told that Muslim hordes have taken control of London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Baden-Baden. Not safe. Traveling to Mexico, of course, is out of the question. Drugs and rapists and whatnot. And we're at war with China, so Asia is out, too."

US Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) asked if Hawaii was included in the ban.

"Of course," said Trump. "Forget Hawaii. Anyone who wants a vacation in the sun can go to Mar-a-Lago. It's a terrific resort. Really terrific. I mean, I'm OK with Polynesians. I like Polynesians. Some Polynesians are great people. And those grass skirts, it makes it real easy to grab..."

At that point, the Secret Service whisked Trump from the podium.