Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Review: Unkai Sushi

There are a number of very small sushi restaurants on West Boulevard, south of 41st. The competition ought to be fierce.

Unkai (at 5351 West Boulevard) has a lunch special: 2 items $6.95 or 3 items $9.95 - an item being something like "small chicken udon" or a dynamite roll - or three pieces of the same nigiri. I must admit to be a bit of an enthusiast for nigiri. Last weekend we went to Shota (5688 Yew) - who claim  "the best sushi in Kerrisdale" - because of a coupon we got. When I checked, of course, it was not valid that day. I ended up paying closer to $20 for something not too different, and waited a lot longer. Note that the salmon pictured above is almost certainly farmed Atlantic (places that sell wild Pacific Sockeye charge a premium) but the tuna (maguro) was on this occasion the usually premium priced toro - fatty or belly tuna.

The tiny Unkai was empty at midday, so I got served quickly. Unfortunately the complimentary miso soup was cold - but it came at the same time as the sushi. I also asked for green tea as it was not all clear if that was included (it was) which was also lukewarm. Even so, 9 pieces of nigiri for $10 is a bargain, and this was of high quality. It is also apparent from the picture that it was not a skimpy piece of fish on each piece. The furnishings are basic and the room spartan. At Shota you are in a different class of establishment. We had comfy padded chairs and could admire the calligraphy on display.

For a quick lunch you could go further and fare worse than Unkai. And since the soup is "free" it won't hurt to ignore it.  

Sunday, 15 September 2013

I am not going to sign this petition

Care2 sent me an email

"In response to a lawsuit against Google for snooping through personal Gmail, Google claims that users have "no legitimate expectation of privacy" when it comes to their email."

They are, in my case, absolutely right. I use Gmail for people like care2 to send me petitions, for people who read my blog to let me know something that they don't want to leave as a comment. It is very useful for newsletters and other non-urgent, non-personal stuff. I have another email address I use for personal communications, and that is not paid for by advertising.

Google makes a great deal of money. But no-one pays for their services or software on-line. It is paid for by people who want to reach a targeted audience. It ought to be mean that when I see an ad on blogger or gmail I find it useful. I am surprised how often they miss the mark completely, but then this tells you something about the limitations of even really very smart software. And, by the way, why all that snooping the government is doing - which we pay for handsomely - is not actually making any of us any safer.

When I signed up for Gmail I had wanted it for some time. Because hotmail was so awful. Google actually restricted who could get Gmail. But I was under no illusion that it would not be used by Google to target ads because I knew that was what Google does. If any Gmail user was not aware of that then they do not deserve any sympathy nor can they expect to win a lawsuit. Nor will a petition to Google do any good. All it does is cause a few people to use the facepalm gesture.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Universal Password Manager

It is unusual for me to use this blog to promote any product or service. I do review things now and then, but in this case I have no hesitation in recommending that, if you haven't got something like this, you need it. Really.

This post is actually part of the process of documenting my acquisition of a new smart phone. I got a Google Nexus 4 which runs Android. This is a lot cheaper than going the iPhone route as I have explained elsewhere. It was very rare for me to use my old phone to go to websites. The Nokia is small and not very easy to use. And, when I did need it to find and book a car2go for example, it was remarkably inaccurate. The GPS was hopeless. It was too small to render the next bus information as a map too. But all that has changed.

I got Universal Password Manager when I got the tablet. Back in the old days of the Palm pilot, I carried my passwords on that in an encrypted database. I did not pay much attention to the ability to synchronize across devices, as when I needed a password the tablet was handy to the MacBook. But it won't be when I am out and about with the Nexus 4.

UPM is free and available from Sourceforge. It is cross platform - meaning it can run on most operating systems - in my case OSX and Android but also Windows and Linux. And, since I already have a Dropbox account, syncing across machines is easy. I do not claim to be a technical wizard, and with the aid of the user guides provided, I found the whole process to be easy and straightforward.

Now why do you need this. Well for one thing when looking for the password manager I also came across plenty of webpages offering password hackers. They are also free and easy to use. (Just put "universal password hack" into google to see what I mean. The problem is that you need passwords that are hard for machines to hack, which means for humans they are impossible to remember. You must also have different passwords for different web pages, first because you do not want someone's web page manager knowing how to get into your other accounts and secondly web pages get hacked. Having multiple, gobbledegook pa$$w0rds @ h& is going to be essential for everyone who wants to do something to protect the 3@$3 of use and convenience of doing stuff online. 

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Microsoft to buy Nokia's handset business

I gave up on Microsoft a while ago. For the first few computers I bought, I accepted the notion that it would come pre-loaded with Windows. That's what everyone used. And often there was Office and sometimes additional software like Money. And the most frequent memory that remains is that it was always baffling, needed all kinds of support and not unusually a trip back to the store to have things sorted out. Eventually, I came across the various free "distros" of Linux. They could be downloaded and put on a CD and then you could run the same computer from that. The first one I tried was Knoppix. I still could not do everything I wanted to easily, and spent more time than I wanted to "under the hood." But as it didn't come from a shop, it couldn't go back. Though it could be easily updated or replaced at no, or minimal cost. And Ubuntu even made them look good too.

I also started to use free software. Not software "stolen" or copied but simply available at no charge. Open Office and GIMP have both been steadily improved and replace the very expensive Office and Photoshop, and can produce computer files that interchange with people who still buy that software when necessary.

My children were easy converts to Apple products. Expensive to buy but very easy to use. Eventually I realized that Iw as still spending too much time and effort on geekiness, and got a MacBook Pro.

But my Linux running cheap net book was also not really what I wanted. And when tablets started becoming available I got a Nexus 7 from Google.  Runs Android. Wow what a difference. No cables. Slips in a coat pocket. Works every time. The only thing that is wrong with it is the camera. Which is pointing the wrong way. Selfies only!

I do not use a cell phone very much, but I appreciate that when you need one they are very useful indeed. And increasingly the world seems to expect you to have one: at least the bit of it that I inhabit. I looked for ways to keep the cost down, which meant I avoided the big telcos and iPhones. I got a Nokia smart phone from Wind, and was able to unlock it and take my business to Mobilicity - as reported here. 

Frankly the performance was unreliable at best, useless too often. For instance, car2go use requires a smart phone. You can get by without it but nothing like as conveniently as it ought to be. But my Nokia and its app usually cannot locate me correctly. The contrast to my Google tablet was instructive. So when the price of a Nexus 4 smartphone fell to the same price I once had paid for the Nokia, I ordered one from Google and I am tracking its progress now. I should have it soon.

Nokia abandoned its Symbian operating system and its new phones have been running M$ software for a while. I felt abandoned. The apps that are available still are about as good as the carthago one. Not good enough.

So I feel that the marriage between Nokia and Microsoft is fine. I hope they work nicely together. I doubt I will ever feel it necessary to go back to either.  

What puzzles me are the people who labour on with outdated versions of Microsoft products, simply because they once paid a lot for them. If you could have a newer, better software for free, why would you not cut your losses and dump things that are just frustrating? Life is too short to waste it on bad software and apps.