Monday, July 25, 2011

Deere looks for Directions

Here's an interesting story from USA Today - Virginia based Lightsquared is proposing to build out 40,000 new cell towers in rural areas. On the face of it, a really good thing. But it turns out, this may be a hindrance to GPS signals which farmers rely on to guide their tractors, among other things. So a fight is on, championed by none other than John Deere who makes many of those tractors. From the paper: "Deere chairman and chief executive officer Samuel Allen has aligned the manufacturer with military and aviation interests against a broadband proposal...Allen said LightSquared's proposal...would push the global-positioning systems in farmers' tractors and combines further down the band, compromising movements across the fields."

John Deere Fights Against Cell Towers that Disrupt GPS:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Where the locals eat - Las Vegas edition

I'm always looking for places where the locals eat - chain restaurants are the same everywhere (which I suppose is their appeal). Nowhere is this more true than Las Vegas. Everywhere a traveler goes is greeted by chains, cheap "bargain" places that scare me, or fancy culinary experiences that may be great, but not necessarily affordable by a family of four. That's why it's worth finding what the locals like. Nora's Cuisine is such a place.

Our first mistake was not making a reservation - its very busy on a Saturday night with an active, upscale bar crowd and live music. We sat in one of two other rooms which was also very nice and not too noisy.

The food was quite good and very reasonable, especially considering that the portions were large and filling. The menu was varied and interesting, so my two picky eaters were happy.

Make no mistake; I've had much better Italian food, but this place was comfortable, friendly, not too fancy (Jeans OK, shorts no), and good service for a decent price. The next time in Vegas, I'll probably return.

Noras Cuisine -6020 W Flamingo Rd, Ste 10,Las Vegas, NV 89103 (702) 365-6713 Yelp reviews

Vacation (finally)!

For the next two weeks, I'm on vacation with the fam. We're starting in Vegas, traveling to the Grand Canyon, seeing lots of National Parks in Arizona and Utah, and finishing up in Denver where we'll fly back to Virginia. Here's the kicker - we're camping all the way (...shudder...). Looking forward to an interesting and fun experience with lots of family time and road food. More later...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Texas Hill Country Meets DC

As promised, I have now been to DC's newest barbeque stop, Hill Country in Penn Quarter. As mentioned earlier, I was anxious to compare it to it's neighbor, Capitol Q in Chinatown. Both offers Texas style BBQ which usually means beef. Fans of pork ribs (like me) or puled pork should seek these delicacies elsewhere.

The central tenant of Texas BBQ is brisket. prepared correctly, it is sublime. Readers of this blog know this: if the brisket is good, everything else is usually good too.

I have now been to HC twice, both times with four other diners. I've only been there for lunch, so I can't speak to the quality of the bar (looks busy) or the live entertainment provided nearly nightly. I can talk about the food, which more than meets expectations.

A few important points:
  1. BBQ should be inexpensive, but purely as the result of a restaurant located in a big city, any place would cost more than you would expect in a rural location.
  2. Between all of the people who work or eat there, I may be among the very few who have actually been to the Hill Country in Texas, and had my share of barbeque there. I do have an accurate basis of comparison.
  3. Do not let the long line in the front deter you. It moves fast and you are served quickly once you find a table
  4. I like good barbeque.
Hill Country is a surprisingly big place. It has two main dining rooms and a "market" where one gets the food, sort of cafeteria style. This is due to the restaurant's desire to serve in the most authentic way possible. BBQ is offered by weight and served on butcher paper. Diners carry a "meal ticket" into the market and for each food item chosen, the correct mark is added to the ticket. This is how the bill is calculated.

I had the brisket both visits, because it was that good. It was moist and flavorful, with just the right amount of fat. Tell-tale pink smoke marks were present, and the peppery rub was evident throughout. The sauce was a tad sweet for me but again, authentic Texas. It works well with the meat, but I'd prefer some sauce choices. Still, the brisket could be easily enjoyed without any sauce at all. I recommend the Brisket "Chomp", a 1/3 lb. portion including (decent) cornbread and one side dish for $11.50. The side item choices are many, and there should be enough to satisfy almost anyone. The service is cheerful, friendly and efficient. For a city setting, this is probably the closest I've been to authentic Texas BBQ. I'm sorry its so close to where I'm working, because I'll probably eat there too often.

Hill County BBQ and Market - 410 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20007 202 556-2050

Friday, April 29, 2011

BBQ in the Nation's Capitol

I've been stationed in Downtown DC for awhile now, so I felt it was about time to try some of the local Barbecue places I pass regularly. I think of BBQ more as a rural thing, but I had a hankerin'. There are two within a short distance (3 blocks) of each other: Capitol Q on H street between 7th & 8th (Chinatown), and Hill Country on 7th between D & E (Penn Quarter). Both are Texas style, which makes them very much out of place from the local Virginia & Maryland styles nearby. No matter, it was worth a try.

The first thing you notice is the size of the restaurant; it's small, but definitely not cramped. I found it cozy. Its unlikely you'ld find a seat, so plan on takeout if you go during a busy time. It's also very clean. We sat by the window, an excellent view of a busy corner, perfect for people watching.

I ordered the brisket, which in my mind is the most obvious way to tell the overall quality of the food and ability of the smoke master. The meat was lean and cooked properly, and probably best enjoyed naked. I say this because the sauces, while decent, added nothing of real value to the experience. My fellow diners agreed; the meat was the star of the show, the sides were marginal, with a few exceptions: The smoked home fries were amazing! Stay away from the corn, or it may taint your experience.

Overall, I agree with what I'd read from others on Yelp; a decent, albeit slightly expensive lunch destination. With the understanding that this is in Chinatown, you are fairly paying for the location.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

RIM was "Blindsided" by Apple I-Phone

I know I've had a LOT of posts about wireless lately but to be fair, there has been a great deal of news.

That brings me to this interesting story from V2M(vision2mobile). They site a report from Thompson Routers that says "Research In Motion was “blindsided" by the launch of the original iPhone, possibly the beginning of a downward spiral that completely eroded its huge market share advantage in less than four years."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Verizon Says it doesn't want Sprint

The ink is barely dry on the AT&T/T-Mobile acquisition, and people are already abuzz about a possible purchase of Sprint by Verizon Wireless. But don't go purchasing Sprint stock just yet; Reuters is reporting that VZ's CEO, Daniel Mead, says he has "no interest" in a deal with Sprint.

"The CEO said the company did not want to be distracted from its goal of being the most profitable U.S. wireless operator... 'We're not interested in Sprint. We don't need them,' said Mead, speaking to Reuters ahead of the CTIA Wireless Conference."

When asked his thoughts about the AT&T/T-Mobile deal, he said that he would not oppose AT&T's plans to buy Deutsche Telekom's (DTEGn.DE) T-Mobile USA for $39 billion.

Reuters: Verizon Wireless CEO says no interest in Sprint deal

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

AT&T to Cap Data for Customers

AT&T (NYSE:T) has announced it will cap data usage for its U-verse customers to 250 Gbs per month, starting in May. That may seem like a lot (it is), but it is a cap.

Even though fewer than 2% will be affected (according to the carrier), customers still won't like it. Some possible issues:

  • 1) Slippery slope - 250 Gbs today, may be 200 tomorrow, and 150 the next.
  • 2) Precedent - as AT&T goes, so goes Cox, Comcast, Time Warner, etc.

According to Jim O'Neill at FierceIPTV,

"Operators have been reluctant to roll out caps, or even tiered data plans, worried that to do so would further accelerate churn among subscribers. There are few things consumers like to hear better than "unlimited" when it comes to Internet usage, and when you take that away, even when it doesn't have an immediate impact, you can be sure more than a few of them will take a little more interest in their bills".

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

RUMOR MILL: T-Mobile & Sprint in Merger Talks

So here's the latest: According to Bloomberg, there is a rumor that Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and Deutsche Telekom have been in talks to merge T-Mobile USA with Sprint. The deal would give T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom a major stake in the new company.

This is not a new rumor, but it leaves lots of questions/reasons that make me doubt it:

1) Sprint has been rumored to be sold, or merged, for YEARS. Ever since the company fought off the MCI buyout (we're talking 2000 here) the stock price has been artificially buoyed by one rumor after another.

2) Sprint has no cash. any merger they participate in will have to use its assets as their part of the deal. Those that remember the Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) deal will recall that's Sprint's end was their spectrum licences. A buyout by Sprint is likely out of the question.

3) Incompatible technologies - Sprint is a CDMA carrier, using WiMAX as its 4G strategy. T-Mo is a GSM carrier usingUMTS and HSPA+ as it's 4G delivery mechanism. Not to mention Sprint's Nextel network - iDEN, that was never merged into the greater Sprint network. Running three separate networks will be prohibitively expensive and confusing for customers.

To be fair, here's how it could happen:

1) Both companies are doing poorly, compared to their rivals AT&T and Verizon. A merger could give them a fighting chance in the US (particularly with help from the German parent).

2) Although their technologies are dissimilar, both WiMAX and GSM networks have migration paths to LTE, a 4G technology currently being used by Verizon. With the right network planning, these networks might be using the same tech someday.

Meh, I'm still going with "no"