Tag: Review


Apple Watch Take 2

Having long-ago fully adopted the Apple ecosystem in my daily work and personal life it was only fitting that I started getting the itch to try the Apple Watch again.  I’ve gone down this road before but after reading numerous reviews about the new and improved Series 3 I thought I should give it another try.

My first go around in early 2016 was less than impressive.  Being a 1st generation device I expected some hiccups but there were more than I could tolerate.  Another issue was the inability to see the screen clearly.  The vision issue was totally on me and has since been corrected with a different type of contact lenses.

The 2018 version of the experiment is already leaps and bounds ahead of where it was 2-years ago.  The Series 3 Apple Watch is so much faster than before.  A lot of the processing is taking place on the watch vs the phone as in the earlier models.  Battery life is more than double of what is was before too.  I’m getting almost 2-days worth of use between charges which is twice as much as I was getting with the first generation unit.

Apple offers the Series 3 watch in 2 sizes (38mm & 42mm) and 2 configurations (GPS and GPS+LTE).  The LTE version acts like a stand alone phone, costs an additional $50, and requires a cellular plan.  I opted for the GPS only version since I didn’t see the need for the cellular option.

I’ve completely changed my mind about the usefulness of the device and find it extremely useful for day-to-day tasks. From answering quick text messages to checking calendar appointments to controlling the AppleTV this thing is extremely capable.

If you’ve thought about purchasing an Apple Watch it’s really worth looking into the latest version.  I really wish I hadn’t waited so long!

Review – Baileys Almande

It’s tough being a self-described foodie and suffer from lactose intolerance.  In my case it’s pretty easy to manage the symptoms with over the counter supplements as long as you remember to take them early in the dining process.  It’s not a fun experience to digest dairy and realize you don’t have a Lactaid available to counter the future “effects” of your poor decisions.  Milk products are in a lot of things you might not expect so it’s important to be prepared.

As someone who loves Baileys Irish Cream over ice, especially in the winter time, I was excited to learn they made a dairy free version.  Evidently what’s available now is the 2.0 version.  Version 1.0 was released in 2016, labeled as Vegan, and contained Bees Wax (a big no-no in the vegan community).  Hands were wrung, Birkenstocks were kicked off, and the Paddington Bottling Company (maker of Baileys) was taken out back and scorned for their misgivings.

The 2017 2.0 release is now “certified” vegan and gluten free to boot!  I’m not really interested in either claim but the dairy-free aspect piqued my interest so I bought a bottle to try out.

I’m not going to sugar coat it, Baileys Almande is pretty nasty.  From the appearance, to the smell, to the taste, it’s NOT a substitute for the real thing.  I’m not sure what they were going for with this product but I think they need to go back to the drawing board.

I’m going to fix a small glass over ice right now, just for you, and try to explain what it’s like:

Appearance – Baileys Almande is very watery, similar to plain almond milk.  Maybe that’s what the beeswax helped improve?  It’s almost thinner than water!

Smell – Slight almond smell that’s not entirely pleasant or natural.

Taste – The first sip is the worst.  You’re expecting that warm and creamy mouth feel that comes with regular Baileys.  You don’t get any of that here.  It’s like a clammy limp-wristed weak handshake from a mortician at a funeral.  Yeah I’m sorry for my loss of $20 too.

Aftertaste – OK it seriously gets worse after you swallow.  You’ll experience a bitter taste followed by what I can only explain as chalky and slimy.  It lingers way longer than you want or expect.  Another sip only amplifies the first experience and the aftertaste builds upon itself.

I’d love to know how many people make a subsequent purchase after their first experience.  I know I’m staying far far away from this stuff and I’ll take my chances with the original.

Have you tried Baileys Almande?  What was your experience?

 

Best Of – Downtown Indianapolis Lunch

Good morning!  I’m starting a series this year called “Best of”.  This will be a Top-10 sort of list based on a random subject of my choosing.  I’m open to suggestions or requests so if there’s something you want me to cover feel free to post a comment below.

This time I’m going to focus on the weekday lunch in Downtown Indianapolis.  None of these are fancy but they’ve proven to be consistently good and are locked into the rotation of places I go on a regular basis (with the exception of one that just got added).  These are in no particular order and it’s certainly not a complete list.

Shapiro’s Deli

Often called an Indianapolis Institution this cafeteria style establishment turns out some of the best pastrami sandwiches around.  Their house made rye bread is a great complement to the tender and smoky meat piled high inside.  Prices are on the higher end of the spectrum and the staff can be a little abrasive, especially during the lunch rush.  This is a place that’s nice to visit once in a while for a filling meal and a little people watching while you eat.

Cluster Truck

This Indianapolis Startup is turning the food delivery business on its head by offering a large selection of favorites from many area restaurants delivered to your door quickly and efficiently.  All of the food is made to order in their central kitchen and delivered only within a 6-minute radius to help ensure your food is hot and fresh when you get it.  My only complaint, and it’s not just Cluster Truck, is the bicycle delivery riders are some of the most unsafe riders I’ve ever seen.  Running red lights, riding against traffic on one-way streets, and constant close calls with pedestrians in crosswalks.   It gives recreational cyclists a bad name with motorists and make it’s unsafe for everyone.

Hoagies and Hops

Only about a year old this place is located inside the Flat 12 brewery on Dorman Street (near east side).   They specialize in “Authentic Pennsylvania Hoagies”.  I’ve had many Cheesesteak Hoagies here and they’re legit.  From the house made shaved Top Round to the bread shipped straight from PA this place makes a mean sandwich.  It’s been known to cause me to want to take an afternoon nap on occasion.

Ralph’s Great Divide

Ralph’s, like a lot of hole in the wall places, is a little rough on the outside and you’re not going to know what to expect on your first visit.  The building has no windows and the parking is a little tricky because of the one-way street the building is saddled up against.  They have an outstanding version of creamy potato soup, a hamburger club sandwich,  and one of the best slices of coconut cream pie you can get in the city.  Service is always fast and friendly and it’s reasonably priced.

Sahm’s

The first Sahm’s restaurant opened  at 116th and Allisonville in 1986 and they have continued to grow over the past 30+ years.  I’ll always remember them for the pasta salad and coffee cake of which only the coffee cake is still on the menu.  They have several locations around central Indiana as well as a few spinoff locations called Rockstone and Big Lug a pizza and brewery respectively.  The Sahm’s location downtown, just north of the One America parking garage, includes a Rockstone menu and does a great lunch business.

Pearl Street Pizza

If someone didn’t tell you about Pearl Street Pizza you’d probably miss it as it’s in an alley, aptly named Pearl Street, that’s just south of Washington between Meridian and Pennsylvania.  Their lunch special of a speciality pizza slice, salad and drink is one of my go to lunches when the weather is nice for a little walk from the circle.   You can be in and out for under $8 in about 15 minutes if you’re pressed for time.  As I’m writing this post I learned Pearl Street will be opening a Fishers location in the coming months.  I hope they have the same lunch specials as they do downtown!

Subito

Truth be told I’ve only been to Subito once but it was a very good experience.  It’s a SMALL place with a loyal following.  On my visit the owner, Chuck, was taking each order and knew a lot of the customers by name.  He was super helpful and you could tell he was putting a LOT of effort to make it not only a good experience but a memorable one.  They have a rotating soup selection that I hear is really good.  On my visit I had a Cuban sandwich with a side of Macaroni Salad.  Both were outstanding.  Unfortunately the weather turned cold and I have not ventured down to Virginia Street since.  Another visit needs to happen soon because I’m craving that macaroni salad.

Wildwood

I’ve reviewed Wildwood before and it remains one of my top lunch spots downtown.  If I could figure out how to open one of these in Fishers I would.  They feature a different sandwich daily and I’m not aware of them EVER repeating a combination in the 2+ years I’ve gone there.  This is a place I have to hop in the car to get to at lunch but it’s worth it for the food, not to mention the cool little market with a great variety of speciality items.  I’ve made my share of impulse purchases to take back to the office.  View their daily sandwich creations on Instagram.

Fast Burrito

When I’m craving a Mission Style Burrito or the cheesiest Chicken Quesadilla you could ever imagine I hit the first floor of the Salesforce Tower and pop into Fast Burrito.  The food is fresh, the portions are huge, and the prices are reasonable.  This is a true alternative to the other fast casual burrito chains.  Their daily specials draw a steady crowd every day.

Pot Belly

This chain of sandwich shops has a premier location on the east side of Monument Circle.  It’s a very popular place at lunch time often with a line 20+ deep to the front door.  They have a decent selection of customizable sandwiches and salads at a mid-level price.  A bonus for the location is plenty of outside seating around the Solders and Sailors Monument, especially when the weather is cooperating.

Honorable Mention – Jimmy John’s

I’m not a fan of big chains but when I need something to eat and I need it quickly It’s hard to go wrong with an occasional sandwich from JJ’s.  The downtown location can typically deliver a sandwich in less time than it would take for me to walk to the location 3-blocks away.  Like I mentioned above regarding Cluster Truck JJ’s delivery cyclists can be reckless and downright dangerous at times so heads up if you’re near Meridian and Washington.

So that’s the first of what I hope to be many “Best Of” lists to be published this year.  It was actually kind of hard to narrow the list down to what I did as there are a LOT of great places to eat lunch downtown.  I already have a few drafts I’m working on that cover such things as Coffee Shops, Pizza Shops, and Grocery Stores.  Look for those in the coming months.  Enjoy your week!

Apple AirPods – One Month Later

It’s been a little over month since the AirPod First Impressions post (and a month since I’ve updated the Blog, wow!) and the AirPods have earned a place in my Every Day Carry kit.

I was a little concerned about the battery life at first but it’s turned out to be a non-issue.  I’m only charging the case about once a week and rarely have the actual AirPods in my ears for more than an hour at any one time.

For some reason the AirPods seem to feel ever so lightly larger in my ears than the wired EarBuds but without ay kind of precision measuring tools I can’t confirm that’s the case.  Once thing I did start to notice is the seams where the halves come together had an ever so small sharp edge to them that I could start to feel after about 30-minutes of use.  I was able to smooth the ridge out with a very fine sponge backed emery board and now it’s not an issue at all.

As far as sound goes they sound better than the EarPods with just a little more bass that’s noticeable with most types of music.  Microphone pickup is very sensitive and I was told during one of my tests the other party could hear me breathing.  Sound quality on both ends is more than acceptable and is similar to what you would find when using the phone.

I have an iPhone 7 Plus and occasionally find it hard to line the phone up with my ear to get good sound.  That’s where the AirPods become my favorite method for making and receiving calls.

Evidently the AirPods are sill in short supply and as of this writing Apple is still showing a 6-week lead time on shipping.  I have yet to see another person wearing a pair of AirPods which I find surprising.

If you want to spend the $150 on a set of truly wireless headphones and you’re willing to wait a few weeks I still think these are a good purchase.

My Week With The Apple Watch

Thought it might be a good idea to take some time out on this Friday night*** and post a much-needed update to the Blog.  Amazing how life gets in the way and posts end up being weeks apart…  You should see the number of drafts I have queued up so it’s not like I’m not thinking about blogging!

I stopped in the Apple store a few weeks ago just to look around and all the new toys and get a hands on demo of the Apple Watch.  The employee assisting us was very helpful and he did such a good job I ended up making an impulse buy of an Apple Watch Sport (and a night stand dock).

I’ll admit it, I fell for the hype and it was totally an impulse buy (happens more than I like to admit).  I justified the purchase to myself as an updated FitBit that did a lot more than just track my steps.  Yeah, that’s the ticket!

If youu_10138874 haven’t checked out the Apple Watch it’s worth it just to see the design, fit, finish, and how it looks on your wrist.  It’s a beautifully designed piece of electronics (as most Apple products are).  The watch/band combinations are numerous and I’m a little surprised they didn’t package the watch by itself with the bands being an add-on accessory.
There are 3 watch models (in several colors) and 2 watch sizes all with the SAME internal components.  The prices are all over the map when you pair the watch with the various bands.  I opted for the $399 “Sport” model in brushed gold with a dark blue band (my shopping companion quickly identified it as the Notre Dame model).

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After arriving home I had to charge the watch for about an hour before I could fire it up.  Initial setup takes about 20 minutes while the companion apps are loaded from your phone.  It took another 24-36 hours before things are totally synced and you are able to get all the alerts you would normally get on your phone (way longer than I expected).

The idea of having a mini phone display on your wrist, instantly accessible, is a good one in theory.  My biggest problem was holding my arm at the viewing angle for an extended period along with the issue of being able to focus on the small screen.

I’ll admit I’m getting older and my arms are sometimes not long enough to properly focus on things like books and menus without a little help from Foster Grant.

Tl_10138874_002his was an immediate problem that I didn’t really notice during the in-store demo.  I’m not going to whip out my reading glasses every time I want to look at my wrist candy (Strike 1).

Another issue I ran into is the information actually presented on the watch screen.  I get hundreds of emails a day and more times than not the message was unable able to be displayed on the screen because of the format.  Not to mention viewing attachments is out of the question (Strike 2).

Battery life during the first day, like with any new toy, was not impressive because I was fidgeting with my new toy all day long.  It improved in the days following as I used the watch less and less.  Apple advertises a full day of usage between charges and I was getting that (Ball 1).

The final issue was the fact you have to make a specific flip of your wrist to get the display to wake up.  Raising your arm works 50% of the time.  Other times you have to rotate your wrist in a weird way to get the watch to activate.  Hard to describe but anyone who has one of these devices knows exactly what I’m talking about (Strike 3).

seiko-divers-pepsi-bezel-blue-dial-automatic-stainless-steel-men_s-watch-skx009Apple offers a 10-day return policy on the watch and I ended up taking advantage of it 7 days into the experiment.  Returning it was totally painless and when I mentioned the viewing issues to the employee processing the return she indicated it’s not an uncommon complaint (and reason for return).

So my Apple Watch experiment is over (for now) and I can honestly say I don’t miss it.  I continue to enjoy my Seiko Automatic Dive Watch for its simplicity (no batteries) and I look forward to the next version of the Apple Watch that’s rumored to be announced sometime this year.

Do you have an Apple Watch?  What’s your experience been like?  Hit me up in the comment section below.

***While listening to The Very Best Of The Violent Femmes on Spotify

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