Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tech Tuesday: How does Honeycomb taste? Part 2

Gotta love the speed of Android.  Last week I gave you a quick tour around Android 3.0 and today I've already upgraded to Android 3.1!  It's very similar but it has a lot more under-the-hood enhancements.  Google has added resizable widgets, input device support (USB Keyboard and Mouse), and Joystick and Game controller support (to use an Xbox 360 controller to play your games).

App Switcher

The app switcher and multitasking are what really separates Android from iOS.  This is the key to multitasking on a Honeycomb tablet.  When you hit the app switch button (the third button of the buttons on the Menu Bar), it displays the App Switcher you see in the picture to the right.  This is a scrolling view (in 3.1) of all your recently used apps.  This is the fastest way to switch between any app you want without dropping back to the home screen. The transition is very smooth and it's a very convenient way to navigate between your tasks.

Web Browser

One of the best uses of a tablet is for web browsing, and boy does Android do it right.  This is the real web.  Just as good as browsing on your desktop or laptop.  Complete with support for Flash videos and animations and even games.  It's the "real" web (Not that you can disable Flash as well or set it to On Demand where it will only load the items you want).  The browser is very much like Chrome on the desktop. You have all your tabs at the top to easily switch between pages.  In the settings you can chose to tell websites you are a tablet, a phone or even a desktop so that you can see different versions of websites if you don't like the mobile versions.  I also love the fact that I can download any file I want or even upload anything I want.  When I was on my iPhone I was always frustrated with the fact that there was no downloading of attachments or files from websites.  With the Honeycomb browser it's very easy to look up a file, download it, then open it in any app, send it in an Email, or to Dropbox, or even over bluetooth to a nearby device.  There's not much to sell here other than the fact that it's a very complete experience.


The rest of Honeycomb is really the apps.  I mean, that's why we buy these new gadgets, isn't it?  So I'll have more on those later.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Foodie Friday

This week I had the pleasure of dining at Co Co. Sala twice! I highly recommend everyone swing by and order the salted caramel frozen co co. (pictured above), the artichoke tart and the chocolate onyx. You can thank me later.


Pupatella just tweeted a short film by customer Scott Patten. Now you can see first hand how amazing our favorite pizza place really is. I also recommend you swing by Pupatella for a bite this Memorial Day weekend.

And finally, go check out Groupon today to buy a $4 coupon good for $7 worth of BGR goodness.

Happy Friday and happy Memorial Day weekend!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dinner & A Movie

We finally got some good pictures of us together on Saturday!

I took Steak out on a date this weekend. I decided it was time to treat him for once. I took him on a cliche dinner and movie date because we haven't been to the movies since... well I can't remember it's been so long! We dined at the new pizza place in Clarendon, Pete's New Haven Style Apizza, and then we went and saw Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. The pizza was alright (I'm not a huge pizza lover, truth be told), but Pete's salads and gelato were surperb! And we loved the new Pirates movie. It was just as good, if not better, than the first.

Dinner at Pete's in Clarendon.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Across the Universe

This song has brought me a bit of peace. I hope it brings some to you.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tech Tuesday: How does Honeycomb taste? Part 1

As some are aware, Honeycomb is Googles name for the Android 3.0 (and soon to include Android 3.1) operating system.  Honeycomb has been Googles interface for the new army of Android tablets, including my Asus Eee Pad Transformer.  So how does Honeycomb compare to the latest version of Android for phones (Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread)?

If you're familiar with Android on a phone, then you'll already feel pretty at home on a Honeycomb tablet.  Even if you are coming from an iPhone there are many similarities and it'll be a very easy transition.

Home Screen

The homescreen is much the same as it is on any other Android device or even iOS device.  You have your icons you can place for your most commonly used apps and plenty of space for your widgets too.  Honeycomb also supports all Live Wallpapers that were introduced back with Android 2.2 (the one pictured is part of Beautiful Widgets and is live animated weather).  A few notable differences are the corners.  In the top left you can see a dedicated search button and a voice search button.  Since the tablet has no buttons it's nice to have those always accessible.  It is a Google device after all, searching is pretty much everything.  It can be used to launch apps, send emails, get directions and so on all with a few taps or by voice.  In the top right you have your app drawer with access to all apps that you have installed and came on your device.  Along the bottom you have a new UI element, the Honeycomb Status Bar consisting of the Action Buttons and the Notification Tray.

Action Buttons

The action buttons replace the home, back and menu buttons present on Android phones.  The only physical buttons you'll see on a tablet are volume and power.  The rest are on the screen and can be hidden by certain apps when unused.  These buttons are to go Back, go to Home, display the App Switcher (recent apps list) and Menu (not shown).  I think it's a pretty good way to use the large screen space as well as preserve a clean look on the device face.

Notification Tray

Android has always been praised for the way it handles notifications on the phone.  They get the point across while staying very unobtrusive.  The Honeycomb implementation is no exception.  Instead of having a slide down bar at the top with a one line summary, you have a little pop up in the bottom right corner letting you know something needs your attention (shown in the top picture).  These items also have a little icon that shows next to the clock for reminders.  You'll see your emails, feed updates, upload progresses, Facebook Messages, Twitter Mentions, etc all lined up there so the second you turn on your screen, you'll know there is something to do.  The other thing shown are indicators for your Wifi, Bluetooth and battery status.  If you tap on any item it will re-display the small pop up so you can review or dismiss it.  Also, if you tap the clock or any status icons to the right to display an extended view of all your status icons where you can launch their associated apps or dismiss them.  This change works very well for tablets since the screen is better used for displaying your main task.  It would have looked pretty crazy to have a single line of text with my message going across the whole 7 or so inches of screen space.


There are some more things I plan to share so stay tuned for Part 2.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Arlington Eats

It's that time of year again. The sun is shining and the our little neighborhood is bustling. Steak and I visited all of our favorite Arlington restaurants this past week. We enjoyed coffee and pie at Northside Social, pineapple sangria at La Tasca and bacon bloody Mary's and pulled pork sandwiches at Restaurant 3's pig roast on Thursday. Over the weekend we tried the new pizza joint in town, Pete's New Haven Apizza, and spent several hours trying everything Taste of Arlington had to offer. If we didn't have to suffer through the heat and humidity every year, summer would be my favorite season.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sugar Feast

I hosted a little dessert and wine party for my family over the weekend. I had determined early on that I wanted to re-make the sugar cookies I made at Christmas, order some fancy macaron cookies and prepare fresh fruit cups with homemade whipped cream. I didn't want to spend as many hours as I had in December rolling, cutting and icing the sugar cookies, so I decided to go with an easier recipe. I did, however, add a generous amount of orange zest to the dough because the Christmas cookies had been such a hit and I felt the orange zest was the reason. 

I also found out how rare and hard to find Parisian macaron cookies are. I ended up ordering the cookies from Michel Patisserie and I can confirm they were delicious, but expensive. It was worth it to order them from him this time because we were in a bit of a time crunch and he delivers the cookies for pick-up at Artisan Confections in Clarendon free of charge. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tech Tuesday: 5 Cool Android Apps

I'm going to do a quick review of 5 cool Android apps (some of these are available on iPhone as well and I will note those as well).  These are some of the apps that I use most often and I find very useful but in no particular order.

1.  Dropbox (Android Phone, Android Tablet, iPhone, iPad)
Dropbox is a pretty cool application.  I love it for keeping my documents in sync on all of my computers, but it's also awesome that I can access any of these files remotely with my phone.  Just download the Dropbox app from the Market (or app store) and login.  Then you're good to go!  On the iPhone you can view some basic files, but on Android you have full access to any file you want.  You can download documents and edit them in whatever editor you have on your phone.  You can also upload an updated version when you're done easily.  I use this to send files to my phone all the time and I'll be using it with Polaris office on my new Transformer to do document editing as well.  Market link

2. Pulse News (Android Phone, Android Tablet, iPhone, iPad)
Pulse is a news reading application.  Pretty straight forward.  It does what you'd expect a news reader to do, but it just looks awesome doing it.  The tablet version is also really cool.  It handles the larger screen size very well by showing the articles in a side panel when you touch them to read.  One of the best parts for me is that it syncs with my Google Reader!  It's great to keep track of articles that I read on my computer as well.  The app gives you the option of viewing the article in "Text Mode",  a simple view of the article with embeded images only, or "Web Mode" which shows the article as it would appear on the website itself.  The app also features a pretty cool looking widget to put on your home screen for easy access to new articles.  Market Link  Home Page

3. Plume (Android Phone, Android Tablet)
Plume is another Twitter client.  I know, like there aren't enough of those right?  Well, so far Plume is my favorite for a few reasons.  It's very clean looking.  It supports logging in with multiple accounts (for those of us with split personalities).  It's got a fantastic widget that will let you scroll through new tweets if your launcher supports it.  And finally, it has a tablet version as well!  The tablet version looks much like the phone version but it shows 3 columns of messages, your timeline, your mentions and your direct messages, all on the screen at once.  You can also view the timeline along side whatever tweet you happen to be reading as well on the tablet version.  The developers are also the same developers of Beautiful Widgets, another cool app.  It's free but they also have a paid version as well that removes the tiny ad at the top of your timeline (which is very un-intrusive as is).  Market Link Free  Market Link Premium (~$2.83)  Home Page

4. Amazon App Store (Android Phone, Android Tablet)
So I know this isn't an app like most of you would normally think of.  It's an app to download apps!  A whole new market.  Well, most of the apps in the Amazon App Store are exactly the same as those in the Android Marketplace, but Amazon will have sales from time to time and you can snatch up some great apps on the cheap.  Especially since Amazon has a program where they will have one premium app that you can get for free each day!  I check it daily, if not just to see if the free app is worth getting.  That's how I got SwiftKey Keyboard, Shazam Encore, Chalk Ball, FlexT9, Fruit Ninja, PewPew2, and Flight Control totally free!  (All great apps, perhaps for another review)  Get the App Store  Browse the Apps

5. ADW Launcher (Android Phone, Android Tablet [Experimental])
Think of a launcher as your home screen.  It's what holds all your icons, what runs your app drawer, what displays all your widgets and all that.  ADW is an alternative to whatever your phone came with that is chuck full of options.  It lets you customize just about anything and even download different themes from the Android Market.  It's fast, and adds features like resizable widgets, scrolling widgets (Pure Calendar and Plume both support this) as well as gestures to launch quick actions.  The developer also maintains a premium version, ADW EX, that has a few more features and custom animations.  Definitely check out the pages for these and watch a few clips since it's hard to get an idea of it from pictures.  ADW Market Link  ADW EX Market Link (~$3.28)

I hope you liked these reviews!  I'm an App addict so I have plenty more to share in future posts.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sister CJ Graduates

Well, that's a wrap folks. Sister CJ did it. She graduated from college.

Congratulations, sis!

Friday, May 13, 2011


Sister CJ and I at my college graduation party. 5/2009

I am in disbelief and shock that my baby sister is graduating from college. I am so excited to celebrate this triumph with her and my family this weekend. It doesn't seem that long ago that she was a junior in high school flying out to DC to visit me during my first year in college.

I love you, sister. Congratulations!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Spring is here.

Spring is finally here! Steak and I have been taking full advantage of this beautiful weather. We're been exploring urban parks and enjoying fresh fruit and beautiful salads. We even took Steak's bike to Revolution Cycles to get it tuned up and he went for his first spring ride. The only thing I would change is the pollen. Ready to live Claritin-free!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Little Mishaps

Last Monday night I decided to borrow Steak's car in a panic. Steak was flying home from Illinois and I had stupidly signed up for a Dhoonya dance class (@ Saffron Dance) at 6:30pm. I thought I would have time to come home after work, change into my workout clothes and then walk over to the studio. Unfortunately I didn't make it home until 6:15, so needless to say I was running a little late. I'm already a nervous driver, but I'm worse when I'm in a hurry. I must have nipped the curb on the way into the dance studio's parking lot because when I got out of the car I heard a hissing sound. I wasn't sure at that point if the tire was going flat, so I headed into my hour long class. When I got back to the car the tire was completely flat. I had taken the spare keys for the car, since Steak had his in Illinois, and I hadn't realized that the car remote had died. When I tried to use the physical key to enter the car manually the alarm went off and it wouldn't stop! So I couldn't even get into the car to calm down and call AAA. Luckily, I was in walking distance from our apartment, so I headed home and waited until Steak got back.

Steak got to spend his first couple hours back in Virginia changing a tire. I read the directions and Steak did the hard labor and together we got the spare put on the car. Then on Tuesday after work we headed to Cosco where we had originally purchased the tires. They were nice and only charged us $1.05 to replace the tire. And while we waited we split a frozen yogurt fruit cup and Steak had a hot dog. A stressful mishap on my part quickly became a fun date night thanks to Steak's patience, humor and love of life. I love spending time with him, no matter what we're doing!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tech Tuesday: More than Meets the Eye

So after much waiting and a lot of page refreshes, I was able to put in an order for an Eee Pad Transformer last Thursday.  Unfortunately in my haste (it's been selling out within minutes of it being in stock) I selected 3 day shipping.  Well with the weekend away it finally arrived today!
So far it's awesome!  Everything I hoped it would be.  The tablet is actually lighter than I thought it would be and the screen is very nice.  Of coures, Android 3.0 Honeycomb is really fast and powerful.  I was easily able to re-sync all my apps from my EVO straight to the Transformer.  Thanks Google.
The keyboard dock is also awesome.  The tablet locks into place very securely and it really looks just like a netbook.  Very cool for standing it up to watch a video or to type something more substantial than a quick email.  In fact, I'm writing this whole post from my Transformer with it's keyboard dock in the Blogger app for Android.  The other great thing is that since I already knew my way around Android I was right at home.  I never even had to plug it into my computer once.  All of my music is streamed with Subsonic, my photos sync with Picasa Web, my Contacts, Email, Calendar all sync with my Google account.  In fact, I don't even know what I'd need to plug it in for period.
Right now I'm still getting aquainted.  I've played a few quick games on it and they worked very well and I'm still finding out new cool things about it.
More to come later!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Double Date at Cava

Steak was back in town this weekend, so I took the opportunity to schedule a double date with my girlfriend Ali and her boyfriend. We decided to go to Cava by Eastern Market since I had heard nothing but good things about their Greek cuisine. Cava will be coming to Clarendon later this year, but I couldn't wait to try the place that creates my favorite tzatziki sauce from Whole Foods. Ali and I both got the delicious sangria to start and then the four of us split 8 tapas ranging from the village salad to the lamb shank. Then Ali and her boyfriend split the baklava and Steak and I shared the donuts for dessert. I must say the donuts were the best treat I've ever eaten and I would probably request them for my last meal. I am extremely excited for the Cava in Clarendon to open so I can enjoy the zucchini fritters and the donuts any night of the week.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Happy mother's day to our two beautiful mothers. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Indian Pizza

My gorgeous girlfriend came over on Saturday and treated me to her unique Indian fusion cuisine. She tells me that she has created many original recipes in her quest to make Indian food easier and lighter. The recipe she made for me was a curried chicken mango chutney pizza. The combination seemed so simple and effortless, but I know it will be hard for me to duplicate her blend of traditional spices.

To make the pizza she bought uncooked dough at the store and stretched it out across a cookie sheet using a bit of flour. Then she drizzled olive over the top and let it bake until puffy. While the dough was baking she cooked the chicken, which was pre-marinated in Greek yogurt, curry and every other spice in her cabinet, on a grill pan and caramelized onions in a frying pan. Then she spread a pre-made mango chutney from Trader Joe's all over the dough, sprinkled it with mozzarella cheese and then added the onions and chicken. She garnished the dish with fresh cilantro and a special Indian pepper blend. Delicious!