Posted by Mark
Last week Nat had dinner with some of her friends at a new restaurant that just opened up in Kuwait City called Ruby’s. She had a good experience and suggested that we pass by for lunch yesterday.
From outside the place doesn’t look like much since the shops and buildings next to it are pretty old but once you walk into Ruby’s it’s a completely different atmosphere. The place is pretty spacious and has a very cozy look and feel to it. We sat down in a comfy corner and the waitress brought us the menu. The first thing that impressed me was with how minimal their menu was. They have only 3 salads, 3 panini’s, 3 pastas and 3 burgers which I thought was very brave. Restaurants here seem to get the impression you need to have a million items on your menu but you really don’t since it’s about the quality not quantity.
Nat ordered the
Mango Pumpkin Chicken Salad while I ordered the Bronte Burger on my first visit and the Chicken and Mango Chutney Panini on my second (had lunch there yesterday and today). Nat really loved her salad and I thought my burger which had a sweet chili sauce was really well made. It was delicious and on my second visit I was really tempted to order it again but decided to try something else and I am glad I did. As much as I thought their burger was amazing the Chicken and Mango Chutney Panini was even better. The Mango Chutney was sweet and gave the panini amazing flavor, I really loved it. I also ordered their chocolate dessert on my second visit and although it was good, I would prefer the Chocolate Fondant at Life with Cacao or the Chocolate Pudding at Slider Station instead.
Their prices are very decent. Their menu ranges from KD2.250 for their cheapest Salad up to KD3.750 for their Shrimp in Linguine which is their most expensive dish.
Ruby’s has been open I think for around 2 weeks only. They still don’t have a sign outside and they will be installing their Knet machine hopefully this week according to the waitress. I’ve drawn a map to the location which you can view [Here]. The service is great, the place is cozy and the food is amazing. I highly recommend the place.
Update: Currently (as of December 29, 2010) they open from 3PM to 11PM. According to the employees there within the next 10 days they will start opening from 11AM to 11PM. Their phone number is 22496526,
Posted by Mark
I’ve been using a trackball for nearly 6 years now. I used to use a regular mouse before but due to the amount of hours I sit in front of a computer my wrists started to hurt a lot and so I decided to do something about it. I ended up purchasing the Kensington Orbit Optical Mouse back in 2004 which I’ve posted about on this blog before and given it high marks. From day one my wrist issues got fixed and I became a big fan of trackballs. I’ve purchased 3 Orbit trackballs over the years, they never broke down just started looking old and so I would swap them out. But, I’ve always had my eye on the Orbit’s bigger, beefier and more expensive older brother, the Kensington Expert trackball which is pictured above.
While in New York a few months back I got to try the Expert trackball and decided I definitely wanted it. The Expert trackball has 4 buttons, a huge ass ball, a scroll ring and a comfy detachable wrist support. It looks good, I love using it and it makes my old smaller Orbit trackball look like a child’s toy.
I really don’t have anything negative to say about it. You can program the 4 buttons to do a variety of things and the way I’ve set them up, the left two buttons are a left click while the right two buttons are a right click. I’ve then set it up so that while in Firefox if I click the two top buttons or the two bottom buttons together at the same time then it flip between my open tabs. Pretty useful. The problem though is the way I use the trackball I actually only use the bottom left and the top right buttons since these are the two buttons that are under my fingers while using the trackball. I find it uncomfortable to use the other two buttons without changing my hand position so I don’t use them that much. The scroll ring is great and I love flicking it quickly when I want to scroll down a page in a hurry.
Price wise the Kensington Expert Trackball cost’s $79 which isn’t cheap considering it’s younger brother the Orbit costs around $22. But I have to say it’s worth the extra cash since you get what you pay for. For anyone with wrist problems I highly recommend trackballs… any trackballs not just the two I’ve used. They really make a difference.
Kensington Orbit Trackball on Amazon
Kensington Expert Trackball on Amazon
Posted by Mark
Here is a quick review of the Alpine iXA-W407.
It works great with the iPod as expected. I previously had the Alpine iDA-X001 installed in my Wrangler and one annoying thing in the X001 was searching for an artist. It doesn’t get much better in the W407. You can’t search using an onscreen keyboard to type an artist name for some reason instead you need to scroll down to the artist u want. You can scroll down by letter as in if you are looking for Smashing Pumpkins you can press “page down” when u r at A and it will take u to B and u keep pressing till u get to S. A painfully long process which I do not recommend while driving. Once you get to S you then have to scroll down regularly by pressing “down” untill u get to Smashing Pumpkins. Takes forever and not practical at all.
On the bright side, that’s the only negative thing I found. The multi display screen is very cool (see picture above) which basically allows you to display up to 4 different kinds of information on the same screen. I Just wish there were more widgets to add out of the current 6 including calculator and sound adjustment which are not pictured above. What I would have liked to have seen is a weather widget (could use my iPhone’s internet connection for the date) or an RSS reader.
The W407 has Bluetooth built in. Once I get into the car my iPhone connects to the Alpine automatically and whenever I want to call someone I bring up the phone number on the Alpine screen and call it. When I get a phone call I can either answer it on the Alpine or if I want privacy I can talk directly on my iPhone. Now all thats pretty normal but my favorite thing is the fact that I can stream music from my iPhone to the Alpine using Bluetooth. Like my iPod and the Radio I have Bluetooth as an audio source. When I select Bluetooth as a source whatever sound my iPhone makes I hear it on the cars sound system. Other than listening to your iPod’s music wirelessly or playing games and have the sound blast out of the cars sound system, another cool feature is the fact I stream music from the web over 3G and onto my car stereo using bluetooth. I’ve got the iPhone app WunderRadio (which I’ve posted about before) and I use it to tune into radio stations in Lebanon and stream them into my car. I don’t have any problems streaming the Lebanese radio stations since they broadcast in EDGE but Ministry of Sound UK for example streams as 3G and after a minute or so the music cuts off and I have to buffer for like 10 seconds which is very annoying. But, I am going to be upgrading my iPhones internet connection from 600kb to 14.4MB at the end of the month which should solve my problem.
I really like the iXA-W407 and if I had to do the purchase all over again I would in a heartbeat. The final score is a 4 out of 5. The lack of a decent search feature and the fact there aren’t any extra widgets I can download and install are the reasons it’s not perfect. If anyone has any specific questions regarding that Alpine unit or the install just ask it below and I will try to answer it. Regarding the PAC TR7, it worked perfectly with the W407. With the TR7 install I can watch videos and change the stereo system settings while I am driving. Without the TR7 I would have to put the car in PARK and raise the handbrake. I also had the PAC SWI-Jack installed which allows the Alpine to be controlled with the FJ’s steering wheel buttons. The PAC SWI-Jack works on a number of cars and with a number of sound systems.
I ordered all my items from Amazon, here is the list with links:
Alpine iXA-W407 Digital Media Station $554.48
Alpine HCE-C107D Rear View Camera $176.99
Scosche TA2076B 2007 Toyota FJ ISO/Double DIN With Pocket Kit $19.58
Scosche Stereo Wire Harness Toyota FJ Cruiser $12.31
PAC TR7 Multi control interface bypass module $23.26
PAC SWI-JACK $42.90
Posted by Mark
When I posted my water review I wasn’t expecting much interest. I just did it because I thought it would be something fun but the response was much more than I was expecting. A lot of you requested I add more details like the sodium content or where the water comes from so I went ahead and did that. I just finished a long and very cold session in front of my fridge tasting all the water and taking down notes. Since the last review I went and purchased some more water brands and I think I managed to get one bottle from everything available in the market except for the bakala waters (random unknown brands you won’t see anywhere else).
For each bottle of water I’ve now written what kind of water it is, where it’s from, the sodium content and the taste. Water to me should have no taste but some brands (like the bakala ones) have a strange flavor for some odd reason. So when you read “none” keep in mind that’s a good thing.
Finally before I share the results, most of these brands of water can be found at your regular super markets except for the following:
10 Thousand BC and Icelandic Glacial are only available at Dean & Deluca.
Fiji I’ve seen only at Dean & Deluca and sometimes at Sultan Center.
TSC, O2GO and Metro Mint only available only at Sultan Center.
Isbre isn’t available anywhere yet but will be released in the Kuwaiti market this March.
The review did reveal some surprises. The biggest for me was TSC. Turned out to be bottled in Lebanon and contains only 2.3mg of sodium. I think TSC could actually be re-branded Rim water since both are bottled in Lebanon and both contain the exact same amount of Sodium. But that’s just my theory. Between locally produced water the two I would choose over other brands are Arwa and AlRwadatain. From the more expensive brands Highland Spring seems to be the best deal and also contains just 6mg of sodium. Check out the results below.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Mark
Over the weekend I picked up an iJacket while I was shopping in Bahrain. I originally posted about it back in 2007 and then totally forgot about it until I saw it at the store.
Firstly just to be clear, I got the jacket because the jacket looks good. I was not interested in the iPod connectivity, thats just an extra benefit for me but not the reason I bought the jacket. I am not the type of person that walks around listening to music and so I won’t be using the controls on the jacket a lot. Now since I did get the jacket and I do own a number of iPods I figured I might as well give my feedback.
The iPod has a special transparent and water proof pocket on the inside of the jacket. There is a regular iPod connector in that pocket and you connect your ipod to it. The pocket also has a small opening for your headphone cable to pass through. The controls on the jacket sleeve are fairly basic, volume up and down, pause/play forward and reverse. The idea is that when its cold outside you don’t want to unzip your jacket and pull out your iPod every time you want to perform a simple command and that’s where the controls on your sleeve come to play. Without unzipping your jacket or removing your gloves you can control your iPod by just touching the buttons on the sleeve. Although I call them buttons they’re not really buttons. The part of the sleeve where the buttons are located feels exactly the same as any other part of the sleeve. No bulge or anything of that sort just the shapes of the buttons imprinted on the sleeve.
When I first tried using the controls I thought I had a malfunctioning jacket since the buttons didn’t work. Then I found out that the jacket auto-locks the controls after 8 seconds of no use and to unlock the controls you have to hold down on the unlock button for 5 seconds. That’s the biggest issue I have with the jacket… the auto-lock feature. It makes the jacket unpractical. Imagine you’re listening to music and then a friend wants to tell you something. To pause the iPod you need to hold down on the unlock button for 5 seconds and then hit the pause button. So it takes at least 6 seconds to pause the iPod which is silly. You know how sometimes one track plays a lot louder than others? Well you need to wait 5 seconds for the buttons to unlock before you could quickly lower the volume to a decent listening level.
That’s why I’m giving the jacket a 2 out of 5. The auto-lock feature is the dumbest idea ever. There is no reason to have it since I can’t imagine the buttons being pressed accidentally unless someone grabs you from your arm and how often does that happen? I’ve already emailed Zegna asking if there is a way to disable the auto-lock but I doubt there is. As a jacket the iJacket is very comfortable and great looking. As an iPod controller it sucks big time because the auto-lock makes it impossible to use. Now a cool feature I would use a lot if it was included would be iPod/iPhone charging. I know there are a few jackets out there that do that but currently the iJacket doesn’t which sucks. I’m hoping if there will ever be an iJacket 2.0 it will.