Public Art in and Around Indianapolis

While doing a little online research last weekend I came across the Indianapolis Public Art websiteEven better they have a Public Art Locator that pinpoints pieces on a Google map.  It’s pretty amazing the number of statues and sculptures in the area.  I wanted to share the site with the IndyScan visitors since it’s an awesome resource.

What are some of your favorite pieces in Indianapolis?  I’m a big fan of the Brick Head on Mass Ave. and the Solders and Sailors monument.

Indianapolis – Siam Square

Last Sunday my daughter and I went to Fountain Square to shoot some photos.  I asked her what she wanted for lunch & without hesitation she said “Siam Square“.  Having never been to this restaurant I was happy to go based on the glowing feedback from friends.

Note, all images in this review are from the Internet because we actually left the cameras in the car while we ate & the lighting did not work for phone pictures.  Rookie mistake for sure.

The menu at Siam Square is pretty typical of any Thai restaurant including lunch specials during the week.  I’ve wanted to try a Curry dish for a while now.  I’m usually a Pad Thai (chicken/pork) guy but I was feeling a little adventitious today.

My daughter ordered the Chicken Pad Thai and, after a brief discussion with our server, I went for the Red Curry.  I was not sure what to expect but sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind.

I’m glad I took a chance because I was VERY impressed with the Red Curry.  It was spicy (medium), sweet and had a lot of interesting flavors.  The bamboo shoots and green beans were plentiful as was the thinly sliced chicken.  Several Thai Basil leaves were mixed through the dish and they added a wonderful herbal flavor.

We’ve visited many Thai places this last year and the Pad Thai almost always is a little sweet (sometimes too sweet).  The Pad Thai at Siam square had a nice “char/caramelization” mixed in and the noodles had a great texture.  The Pad Thai has to be one of the best I’ve had to date.

Service was very attentive and the prices were on par with other Thai places in the Indy area.  We spent some time exploring the Fountain Square District and identified several places to try next time we’re in the area.  I think Duck Pin Bowling is on the agenda for the next visit!

Siam Square on Urbanspoon

Dropbox Follow-up

I posted earlier about how you can use the power of advertising to get some additional space on for FREE!  As of today here’s where I’m at with about 15 minutes of effort:

“So far you’ve earned 6.25GB of the 8 GB maximum bonus space possible from referrals.”

I’ve blown through my free $100 certificate by allocating $2o per day.  Time to see if I can score a few more bonus bucks for free advertising and run another campaign to get me at the full 8GB.

Broad Ripple – Ripple Bagel & Deli

I was roaming around on a Sunday morning last weekend doing a little Broad Ripple photography and found myself wanting something for breakfast.  Since I was in the area, and there were not that many options given my limited time I decided to check out Ripple Bagel & Deli.

My first impression was this place is loud and full of energy.  Filled with mostly 20-30 somethings I was a little “old” for the scene but the wait staff kicked in and requested my order almost immediately (probably an attempt to get this non-hipster out of there before I scared the kids off).  Not having the opportunity study the menu I took a chance and opted for the ‘Morning Mess’ ($5.65).

The Morning Mess is a freshly steamed everything bagel with bacon, scrambled egg, Sriracha cream cheese (special of the day) & 3 melted cheeses.  I’ll be the first one to admit it was a mess.

The bagel and ingredients were all fresh but it was pretty difficult to eat this thing due to the heat (temperature) and the slipperiness of the contents.  Every bite on one end resulted in the ejection of more and more of the middle on the other end.  Finally defeated I grabbed a knife and fork and proceeded to put this mess to rest.

While the Morning Mess was tasty it was VERY heavy.  I was feeling that sandwich for hours and to be honest it was a little too much.  I liked the concept and I loved the Ripple Bagel & Deli‘s atmosphere and food selection.  I’m planing a return trip where I’m going to take a little more time to study the menu and find something that’s tasty and won’t feel like a 3-pound rock in my gut.

By the way, when I was there the staff was handing out samples of the “Indiana Chili”.  It was really good and had little pieces of elbow macaroni and beans in it.  I think that might have been why it’s after the Hoosier state.

Ripple Bagel Deli on Urbanspoon

Split Pea Soup with Ham

Even though we’ve had an incredibly mild winter I still can’t help but want some of the comfort foods that go along with this time of year.  This is a classic rendition of that childhood favorite (at least mine anyway).  It’s simple to prepare and any leftovers will freeze and reheat well.

Split Pea Soup w/ Ham

1 Pound dried split peas
1 Smoked ham hock
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Cup finely chopped yellow onions
1/2 Cup finely chopped celery
1/2 Cup finely chopped carrots
2 Teaspoons minced garlic
1 Pound Smithfield ham, chopped
1 Teaspoon salt
3/4 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 Teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
8 Cups water
1 Bay leaf
2 Teaspoons fresh thyme

  • Place the peas in a large pot or bowl, cover with water by 2 inches and soak 8 hours or overnight.
  • Drain the peas and set aside.
  • Score the ham hock. Place in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 1 hour. Drain and set aside.
  • In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  • Add the celery and carrots and cook, stirring, until just soft, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  • Add the ham hock and ham and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown.
  • Add the drained peas, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes, and cook, stirring for 2 minutes.
  • Add 8 cups of water, the bay leaf and thyme, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peas are tender, about 1 hour. (Add more water as needed, if the soup becomes too thick or dry.)
  • Remove the bay leaf and discard. Adjust the seasoning, to taste, and serve immediately.

Optional – Top with homemade croutons and/or crumbled bacon!


Specifications and How the World Works

While working on one of several projects today I found myself pouring through a set of specifications that was nothing short of mind boggling. These were specifications used to construct buildings and they covered everything from light fixtures to door knobs to acoustic tiles (and data distribution).

This got me thinking about where we would be without this kind of structure.  When you have several industries and trades all working together to design and build a finished product everyone must be on the same page.  You can’t connect glass to wood or steel, run electrical cable anywhere you want, or put a stairway randomly within a structure.  All of this takes coordination and guidance.  That guidance almost always comes from specifications (and experience no know what can, and should not, be done).  My job in this particular project is a lot easier than others.  Some people have to worry about Life Safety and others have to make the structure visually appealing.  I just have to get all the bits and bytes flowing throughout the building in the most efficient, and cost-effective, way possible.

I could just wing it and use the tried and true ‘path of least resistance’ but experience tells me this is not the best solution.  I have to navigate my connections around huge open spaces, stay away from electrical interference and, most of all, keep everything out of sight.  All connections must end up in a central area but still reach the farthest corners of the structure.  After all, just about, everything is “connected” these days.

In addition to the “hard-wired” cabling I need to account for wireless connectivity throughout the environment.  Radio waves have a tendency to act like they’re not supposed to.  In theory everything is line of sight and spreads out in a spherical pattern.  In reality signals will bounce off the strangest objects and end up providing less than desirable results.

This is the kind of project I can really sink my teeth into.  It has all the elements I enjoy and many challenges to go along with them.  As I pour through the paperwork that I’ll eventually need to manipulate into a document instructing others how to create my vision, I can’t help but think about how this can even be accomplished without the structure and limitations that a good set of “specs” can provide.


Call Me a Fanboy but…

…OS2.0 for the Blackberry Playbook (released today) is a huge improvement over the Operating System that initially shipped with the Playbook.  We test a lot of gear at my company and luckily I get to be in on the action.  After playing with an iPad (1st gen) for a few months and using it more for games than work I decided to give the Blackberry Playbook a try.

I know a lot of people have given up on Blackberry (or actually Research in Motion).  A lot of those same people used to LOVE Blackberry.  The company has had its share of setbacks but honestly those issues have not affected me as an end-user.  I have a Bold 9930 and I think it’s one of the best phones I’ve ever had (you get the best of both worlds with a touch screen AND a keyboard).

I have nothing against the iPhone or the Android platform.  I have an 4th gen iPod Touch and use it daily.  I just have not found the need, or had the desire, to change to yet another platform.  I’ve already been through several Palm devices and multiple flavors of Windows Mobile.  Once I moved to the Blackberry I was a happy man.  So if I’m happy I’m not necessarily looking to leave just yet.

Te Playbook was pretty limited in its original version.  I did like the tethering feature that kept all of my corporate information on my phone vs. on the actual Playbook.  This has its advantages of not having to sync two devices and the data is encrypted throughout its journey from the server to your eyes.  Overall it worked well but there were things missing.

One thing that was missing were a large variety of applications.  The list was just too limited.  That’s ben fixed with OS 2.0.  developers were offered a free Playbook if they recompiled their Android apps to the Blackberry platform before a certain date.  Call it a desperate move (it may have been) but it definitely fixed the issue with a limited application catalog.

I used my Playbook for casual web surfing (it has a great browser) and for watching video.  Movies, TV’s and the 1080p HD videos the Playbook can record.  Given the right lighting the recordings are absolutely incredible.

Here the Playbook hardware specs for all the geeks out there (I highlighted the good stuff):

  • 7″ LCD, 1024 x 600, WSVGA, capacitive touch screen with full multi-touch and gesture support
  • BlackBerry Tablet OS with support for symmetric multiprocessing
  • Texas Instruments OMAP4430 Processor, Dual Core@ 1GHz
    • IVA 3 hardware accelerators enable full HD 1080p, multi-standard video encode/decode
    • Faster, higher-quality image and video capture with digital SLR-like imaging up to 20 megapixels
    • Dual-core ARM® Cortex-A9 MPCore with Symmetric Multiprocessing (SMP)
    • Integrated POWERVR SGX540 graphics accelerator drives 3D gaming and 3D user interfaces
  • 1 GB RAM
  • Memory: 16GB, 32GB and 64GB
  • 5300mAh battery
  • Dual HD cameras (3 MP front facing, 5 MP rear facing), supports 1080p HD video recording
  • Video playback: 1080p HD Video, H.264, MPEG, DivX, WMV
  • Audio playback: MP3, AAC, WMA
  • HDMI video output
  • GPS and Wi-Fi – 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • Connectors: microHDMI, microUSB, 3.5mm headset port, charging contacts
  • Open, flexible application platform with support for WebKit/HTML-5, Adobe Flash Player 10.2, Adobe Mobile AIR, Adobe Reader, POSIX, OpenGL, Java
  • Ultra thin and portable:
    • Measures 5.1″x7.6″x0.4″ (130mm x 193mm x 10mm)
    • Weighs less than a pound (approximately 0.9 lb or 400g)

I’m not trying to compare the Playbook to an iPad or any other tabled device.  I’m just reporting my experiences with it.  Performance is very fast and you can take advantage of true multi-tasking that allows you to run several applications at once and switch between them with a simple finger swipe.  In fact, the gestures are very intuitive and allow for a lot of control of the device.

OS 2.0 adds some much-needed software features to a strong hardware platform:

  • Integrated email client with a powerful unified inbox (nothing “new” but a different way of doing things)
  • Social Integration with Calendar and Contacts apps (links all of your contacts and social media services you use)
  • Updated BlackBerry Bridge app (remote control of the Playbook from your Blackberry phone)
  • Updated document editing functions (Docs-to-go baked in)
  • Print To Go (“print” documents to the Playbook wirelessly)

There are other enhancements as well but a lot of them are subtle (like a revamped keyboard layout) and notification method.

All in all I have been pleased with the playbook and it’s been a very useful tool for work.  OS 2.0 adds to that usefulness and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next from RIM.  If the company eventually fails, it fails (I’m not going to save it by being a happy customer).  I’ll then have to move on to another platform.  I’m not sure which one though.  Maybe something new will come along by then.