heyrick1973 -at- yahoo -dot- co -dot uk

Buffalo FAIL

So in town yesterday, my mom and I decided to go to "Buffalo Grill". It is a chain that tries to specialise in a peculiar mix of wild west and other American themed meals; though this somehow translates into "grilled meat" and "other fried stuff". It makes a refreshing change to "yet another McBurger", although being a real sit down and eat sort of place, you can take whatever McDo would cost and double it.

We almost didn't eat there. We arrived at quarter past four and were turned away at the door. The man, who was a modern day wide boy, said "we are closed now", in English.
Say what? Since when did you close on a Saturday? I asked him, in French.
He thought for a moment and went to find another member of staff. She hurried over and said "no no we open you eat" (in English, sort of).

WTF?

How dumb do you have to be to not even know the opening hours of the place where you work?!? I can only wonder if he had been turning other people away since the end of lunch. What did he think he was being paid to do?

Here's my meal, minus a few chips:

It is a "menu sheriff" with a side order of macaroni cheese. The menu Sheriff costs €14,90 and comes with a drink (normal cost around €3,50ish) and a desert. It isn't a big meal, but it can work out a fair bit less than buying a normal menu option and then adding everything. The macaroni cheese is a side order that should cost €1,50. Whether or not you are actually charged for it seems to depend upon the phase of the moon...

French meat.

The French have absolutely no finesse when it comes to cooking meat.

There is "bleu" (sometimes called "sainglant", I think) which roughly translates to "take the cow, show it fire, when it moos in fear, serve it". Seriously, there is very little difference between "bleu" and just eating raw meat.
Then there is "au point". This is what English people would consider to be "rare". As you can see from the picture, my meat is nicely brown. Strip off the outer five millimetres, what's inside was barely warm. I think it still had a pulse.
Then there's "bien cuit" which is a complete anathema to French people. I should order my meat "bien cuit" because "au point" is a little less dead than I like it, however "bien cuit" could come as anything from "au point" to "incinerated" depending on the mood of the cook. If you order "bien cuit" it is quite obvious that you are a foreigner. It's like asking for butter to put on the bread rolls. Or ice cubes in your wine. You... Just... Don't.

As a British person, I can tell you there are at least four shades between "au point" and "bien cuit": there is "red in the middle", "pink in the middle", "brown all the way through", and "incinerated". Such subtleties seem to be missed on the French, because for them, anything beyond "au point" is just ugh.

In the interests of helping my fellow diners, the menu Sheriff comes with a drink and a choice of three not terribly inspiring deserts. If you look at the small print underneath the drinks choice, you will see this:

So looking at the menu, it looks as if the deserts supplied with the menu are in the €3-5 range. Well, you can get a "Diligence de Deserts" (a little bit of many things), list price €7.90, for a mere €2,20 extra. This does tend to be questioned or put into the till at list price, so just keep an eye open and remember that it says "tout autre".

 

Camera quality

Looking out of the car window, I can see a water tower:

My phone can (digitally) zoom on the tower:

However, if we look at it full size, we can see the truth:

Here is the same thing taken with a digital camera, and expanded to 330% because the lens is much more wide angle than the phone:

What it shows you is that a digital imager with no hardware focus system (most phone and tablet cameras) will take perfectly acceptable images, but at the expense of fine details. Indeed, when you have imagers over 8mpix squeezed into a 1.2/3" size imaging chip (very small!) you are running into basic physics. Larger pixel sizes need larger sensors. Anything less... is a pleasingly large number to write on the box, not so much else.
To get a clear image of something not directly in front of you, a hardware zoom is essential. Even if it is only 5×, take a look at the difference:

Now let's see that at real size:

So. Yes. A little hand-hand camera with proper zoom is always nice to have around. For other times, a phone will do.

Ironically, a phone is probably better for recording video. Most these days will take a decent crack at recording sound, and some will even use the echo cancellation microphone to provide stereo sound. That's more than many budget cameras "with video" attempt to do.

 

The mobile office

Finally. :-)

The phone is tucked up above the sun visor flap. It is providing music to an FM transmitter (you can just see the edge of this just above the closest electrical wire in the background). The music is playing through the car radio. The phone is also connected to 3G and is acting as a WiFi hotspot. The white cable is a USB power lead plugged into a dual-output car adaptor, this is so the phone's battery isn't depleted due to the hotspot activity.
On the dashboard, the iPad. This is also plugged in to a power source. Ideally it needs to be a little bit closer, perhaps where the hand-made star thingy is, but I don't have any sort of mounting bracket. On my lap is the little bag that I put my assorted crap into (more convenient and smaller than a backpack). On top of that, a bluetooth keyboard.
The only thing I'm missing is bluetooth on the car radio, but it predates that sort of thing. At any rate, there I am in the car passing time and fully connected.

So, you could say my dreams have finally been realised, only about fifteen years late. ;-) I knew when I first had a mobile phone (circa 1998) that they would one day be capable of doing proper data. I knew that 2G was the digital replacement of the older analogue 1G. GPRS was new and expensive, MMS didn't exist, and WAP wouldn't turn up on handsets (and disappoint a generation) until the following year. I had been on the Internet (Web 1.0!) for a few years and I could envisage that over time things would improve.
I didn't expect the ARM processor to pwn everything in sight. It is by and far the processor of choice for mobile devices over the last decade or so. In the picture above, both the phone and the iPad run on ARM cores. So, yay.
I also didn't expect to be able to download the official version of "Like A Rolling Stone" from YouTube at 600KiB/sec while moving and on the road. That's 2.5× what I can get from wired ADSL!
But I did expect, one day, the internet would be able to go mobile.

That said... It it wasn't for telcos doing nasty things like charging 40p per SMS and pricing mobile data at €0,15 for 10KiB, we might have had this level of connectivity years ago. It is interesting to note that when I first started with Orange and Android, 500MiB/month was the most you could get without going to business class contracts. Now? Now it is 3GiB/month (and some options up that to 7GiB/month). Back then, tethering was a no-no without business class. Then tethering was a paid extra. Now it's a part of the deal. Price differential? About a fiver. Things march forward.

Oh, and I forgot to say earlier - as I was "evolving" my contract, there was no messing around with the phone numbers. I guess I ought to make an effort to learn it. The only number that I remember is 0681407793, which I think is now owned by a bloke in Limoges. I left it behind, what? Four years ago? I don't remember. My new number? Um... Um... Um... Let me check...

 

Sale DVDs

The French don't seem to have sales like the English. Right now is the official winter sale (dates set by the government!) and if you're hoping for a bargain, there is some good stuff to be had, but be aware that it is very much not a case of everything on sale. The reductions are on specific things, usually stuff the shop wants to be rid of.

And so, there is something I picked up on Saturday. A euro apiece. Just to prove that I do actually buy DVDs, once in a while. ☺

Let's see. Gangsters, Guns, and Zombies. What's not to love about that title? I'm not expecting it to be in the class of Cockneys vs Zombies but I am expecting what it says in the title.
Mirror Wars. Something to do with Russian fighter jets and blowing up Air Force One. With Malcolm McDowell and Rutger Hauer; both of whom I imagine I will think... but you're the guy from Blade Runner and you're doing THIS? [otherwise known as the Mark Hamill effect]
Pig Hunt has a group of people hunting a mammoth boar, and a bunch of rednecks hunting them. Fairly generic, but there's lot of blood on the DVD jacket photos. It'll do.
Blood Sisters (Sorority Row). Looks like some college girls do something nasty to one of their friends, and now she wants revenge. The only thing better than girls with guns and axes are girls with katanas, but hey, wrong genre.
Pet Sematary 2 (their spelling, not mine). The no-doubt-it'll-be-cheesy-as-hell sequel to a film based upon a Stephen King novel. Stars Edward Furlong (the boy from T2). So, uh, isn't this like 25 years old?
This Is The End Los Angeles, catastrophes, extremely cheesy pictures on the DVD cover. Might be worth laughing at, it was only a euro...
Battle Royale II I am pretty sure I have this, but it won't hurt to be absolutely sure.
eXistenZ I think I watched this on FilmFour a billion years ago and didn't quite get it then. So here's to a second try.
The River Wild Believe it or not, I've never watched this. Seen it showing on TV a few times, but always turned on the TV too late, if even the right day. So, a euro down, I can watch it when I want.
City On Fire Isn't this the disaster film from the '70s? Well, California and lots of fire. If we can overlook the dodgy effects and hammy acting, the '70s did some pretty decent disaster flicks. The Deaths of Ian Stone (Les Faucheurs in French). In the back is a scared looking nurse and a bloke crashing through a window. That's better than trying to read the terse description written in French.

All can be in English, except BR2. BUT THE BLONDE KID. SHOUTING. EVERY LINE. OF HIS DIALOGUE. WOULDN'T SOUND RIGHT. IN A DUB. ANYWAY.

 

 

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Gavin Wraith, 25th January 2015, 21:03
You are a braver man than I - was the meat Buffalo meat? I have always liked my beef gavinised (a family word meaning just 'east of carbonised'). The outer crust should be crunchy. Now that mankind has discovered fire I view serving raw meat as a relapse into barbarism. The first time that I ate in an automat in Paris (in the mid 50s) I had some difficulty getting this point of view across; apparently it was novel to the staff. After some shoulder gestures they complied with my wishes.
VinceH, 26th January 2015, 14:39
Yeah, I'm with Gavin on the meat! Anything less than very well done is not done at all in my book. 
 
Gangsters, Guns and Zombies rings a bell. I can't remember if I've seen it - but I suspect I probably have and I have therefore most likely built a wall around the memory to avoid being traumatised by how bad it was. Or something. 
 
ExistenZ - I saw that at the cinema and wasn't particularly impressed. I've never bothered since. 
 
The others? Dunno.
Gavin Wraith, 28th January 2015, 12:50
I have just been looking at this article about German ailments: at http://mentalfloss.com/article/61140/15-unique-illnesses-you-can -only-come-down-german 
 
Are there any specifically French ones apart from crise de foie?
Mick TW8, 7th February 2015, 22:51
Portion size at Buffalo grill looks to be getting a bit mean these days!

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