Archive for Reviews & Rambles

ohhh new .UK domain but is it really worth it?

So while I realise I’ve not written a post for about 8 months… I did a domain update today, so thought I’d better check into wordpress and do a plug-in update AND while I was here, mention the new .UK domain

In amongst the dozens of emails I get, I’d been notified by my hosting provider that a new domain ending has been released to the UK that was simply called “.UK” and as owner of I had first dibs on the new domain, which makes sense  (it is nice to see some common sense used from time2time)…  not that I have any intellectual property ownership over the name 50percent, this was just a nickname I picked up from playing Aussie Rules Footy in London in days gone by…   I liked it, stuck with it and was lucky enough that no one else had decided to register the domain in the UK so I picked it up a few years back.  🙂

I digress… So, I was advised I could register 50percent.UK so I thought why not, I paid £10 for 3 years ownership and popped it on my existing hosting package. So you can now get to this Blog post via both or    BUT is it really worth it?  I’m not sure. While it’s a nice to have, it’s inexpensive, I’m not quite sure I get the point why it was released at all.     It’s 3 characters shorter but erm…  that’s about it.     I’m not sure of the risk of two competing brands coming to blows over a “.co” between their company name and the “.uk”.  Is this just a way for nominet to spin some more cash, or actually make it appear like they are adding any value to the UK internet domain arena, because lets face it – it’s not like they do much else, other than write policy about how we should use UK domains.   Nominet have a campaign page about .uk domains if you’re interested.

Domain names do seem to be a new fad. While I understand .com or might be in shorter supply if your just joining the internet revolution, is the new trend of Domains that are popping up including “.London”, “.xxx”, “.sport” or any name you can be bothered to put after your DOT, the right way to go.   They don’t appear to have been adopted amongst the regular web services I use yet, but no doubt in a few months you’ll start getting emails from “.facebook”, “.twitter” or “.amazon”   Or the more tech savvy might start with something like dave@jones.windowcleaners  but that’s just weird.      Like with pre-pay mobile numbers, Voip landline numbers, email address’ – are domain names going to become disposable?

The Lobster Room in Reading, Berks – a poor choice for dining

As you’ll see the old Reviews Blog has been a bit dry of late, mainly due to time (I’ve been a busy boy) and because the majority of my restaurant visits over the past year have been via the Mystery Dining Company I work for part time, so considered it a conflict of interests to survey and then blog them.

But this time round you get the my full attention about The Lobster Room, in Reading, Berkshire in Blog form because A) I’ve received tweets and pings asking about my experience following my FourSquare check-in and B) my experience was poor so I’m letting others know…

I’d seen the venue under the banner ‘The Lobster Room’ advertised, it’s in a location opposite Forbury Gardens in Reading, just out of town. The building has had a fair turn over of dining experiences, but due to the location I don’t think it attracts that much passing trade.

My other half is an avid Groupon user and decided to treat us to a Fishy Dining experience at the Lobster Room because we both enjoy seafood and I’m always up for a night off cooking and a good meal out.

We had a table booked for 8pm on a Friday (10th Jan 2014) and arrived on time. The entrance foyer contained just a empty sandwich fridge & counter and we had to walk down stairs to get to the restaurant, which should seat approximately 50-80 diners, but for a Friday evening it was less than a third full, with only a handful of tables occupied.

We were seated and given menus and our waiter (a gentleman in his 30’s, olive skin complexion, who spoke broken English) who then wandered off and we waited for about 10mins for him to return and we placed our drinks and meal order together – we were not offered any table water. While ordering, I made a specific request that the Lobster Main course was NOT served with Mixed Peppers or garnished with chilli / paprika as my other half has an allergy… and I spoke very slowly and repeated several times “no red, yellow or green pepper, no chilli and no paprika – nothing that is a bell pepper” he nodded and confirmed. Yet despite my request the Half Lobster was served on a bed of Red & Yellow Peppers…  meh.  So to save time (and avoid ruining the Lobster) we begrudgingly lifted the Lobster off the plate and the waiter took the Peppers away and returned with a handful of thyme seasoned boiled / part roasted potatoes.  Anyway I’m jumping ahead of myself… back to the Starters.


The Service was slow and for Starter we had Scallops in Pancetta and Calamari . The Scallops were nice, well cooked & moist but the sweet seasoning / dressing was slightly over-powering, but it was a tasty starter and well presented. The Calamari however wasn’t good as the batter wasn’t crisp, it was soggy, the Calamari was a little chewy and it was served on a white plate with a slice of lemon – some mayo, seafood or tartar would have been nice.


Scallops @ Lobster-Room

We waited for atleast 5 minutes to have our starter plates collected. There were two waiting staff on and despite it being rather empty it just all seemed so slow. The waiter took our plates and didn’t ask how the food was, or engage us in any way it all, it all seemed a lazy laboured job.

We then waited for another 15mins or so for the mains to arrive. I’d ordered the Crab Tagliatelle in addition our other main of Half Lobster. As mentioned above, the Lobster didn’t arrive as requested but aside from the momentous cock-up with the Peppers, the Lobster was nice, a good size, well cooked & seasoned.  The Crab Tagliatelle however was served on a plate with the Crab Shell and legs, but I’m not sure if this was to try and convince me that the plate contained any actual crab, because it seemed as though I’d been given the shell and not the meat…  the small bundled pile of undercooked tagliatelle didn’t seem like fresh pasta and digging through the pasta with tomato sauce, there were no pieces of crab meat to be seen, so either it’d been put through a blender and whizzed so finely that it was unrecognisable or it simply wasn’t there. It didn’t particularly taste of crab and the seasoned tomato sauce was the prominent flavour.


Crab-Tagliatelle @ Lobster-Room

After eating what I could manage of the poor attempt at a main course and trying to extract what little Crab meat I could from the bits of crab carcass left on my plate, we waited once again for the waiter to return to collect our plates and again there was no attempt to ask how the meal was, he simply picked up the plates and walked off.  He did return a few mins later with a dessert menu but at that point I was happy enough with a coffee at home so asked for the bill, paid for our drinks and the supplement for the Lobster, which wasn’t covered in the Groupon offer and left.

Overall, a very disappointing experience and I’m very glad we didn’t pay full price. Some of the food was nice, but then other parts were really bad. The service was slow, un-engaging and they couldn’t understand or adhere to a basic dietary requirement, so I certainly wouldn’t recommend The Lobster Room as venue to enjoy good seafood in Reading, Berkshire.


And I do feel a little guilty, as a friend who saw my FourSquare check-in asked how it was…  I said ‘poor’ before remembering she’d brought her husband Groupon vouchers for the same place for his Birthday… Opps.

Google Music vs Spotify – my first impressions

Having not blogged for a while, not through lack of wanting to, just far tooooo busy. I thought I’d take a few minutes to scribble down my thoughts on Google Music after I’d managed to convince Google to give me a Google Music Account (registration involved having a US VPN up and some tinkering with details) – I am in the UK and the Service is currently reserved for US people only, but not wanting to miss out I managed to sign up and trial the service.

I’m on the 1 month free trial and I’m able to view the whole catalog and offline songs to my android device. If I don’t cancel the trial I’ll get billed $7.99 a month in July.

I’ve been paying £10 a month for Spotify since 2009 and have always been very happy with the service, applications and quality.  Google music is a very different interface than what I’m used to on Spotify – I like the layout of Google with it’s tiled album covers. The navigation can feel a bit odd and isn’t all that intuitive. ‘My Library’ or ‘Playlists’ seem to be the same thing just viewed in different ways in 2 different pots – weird.

The music selection seems Ok, I think right now they have slightly different catalogs (regional record label licenses), but that’s partly due to Spotify being my UK account and I’m registered on Google Music as US.

I prefer the ‘explore’ option on Google Music to discover new music or browse (incl new releases) and with their album covers and tabs, it’s easier to navigate than Spotify who have limited items in the New Release section. Google are big on vivid album covers and bold clear menu options. But I prefer the layout, structure of drag & drop playlists in Spotify – especially in the App which I use on my home PC or I use on my Squeezeboxes.  Also, Spotify does have the plus side of Spotify Apps, which provide varied ways of viewing, discovering and organising music which is a plus.

As for for the Android Mobile Applications.
The tiles, albums covers and searching on Google Music is better. But visibility of playlists, adding to playlists and offline function of music is better on Spotify – it’s annoying when you can’t outright pick one better option and two good services have different parts from each you prefer.  I will continue to play with both services and see if I can find a preference, but either way they’re both better than Rdio.

Google Music Menu

Windows Movie / TV library and Player… is there a decent one!?

While I always thought my blog would be about telling people my own opinion or sharing the never ending knowledge of stuff in my head…  (not that the infrequent Blog Posts would support such a fountain of knowledge .. I’ve been very busy…   I now ask a question of the interweb… and hope to get your comment and feedback:

I have a Windows 7 Media Desktop (slimline eeePC) and I want to run an application to Index and Play Movies / TV shows that I have on an External Harddrive.

Now… *Boxee* used to be great, but the PC version has been withdrawn for some time. Boxee just worked, it was a point and click app that was easy to navigate, simple, streamed anything (including 1080p on windows intel atom media pc)

-I’ve tried *XBMC* and it seemed Ok, though the menu options seem mental, and recently I cleaned up a number of file names and despite having the option of re-index on restart of the programme it left all the Movie Covers in the library and ever time I clicked on one it said it could not be found. So I deleted the DB from the profile folder in Windows Explorer and now it won’t index at all!

-I tried *PLEX* but for that you need to install the Media Server aswell as the Media Centre to run it on a computer as a Library and Player. I told the Server to update library, left it for 20mins and there was nothing in my player… so I went through preferences and added the file locations, left that for a while and I could browse the folder structure but there was no sight of any IMDB info or movie covers.  It’s also almost impossible to navigate with a mouse.

– I had a look at *Windows Media Centre* the Windows 7 built in App and after telling it where my files were, left it for 20mins and it’s loaded them… into Movies. But they are rubbish tiles with word on and no film info, and despite adding a folder under Recorded TV, the TV menu is empty.

SO Internet… *can someone suggest a Good, Simple, Robust, Media Centre Windows Application* that I can install, point at my 2 Terabyte USB 3 Hard drive and say there’s the Movies Folder, there’s the TV folder – Index, title with basic info and a pic, and occasionally do an auto refresh and keep up to date.


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