Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ryan's breakfast Review

For a change I went to my usual Ryan's location to try out their breakfast. I will tell you it was eggcellent!

I normally avert this type of place for breakfast because I am very sensitive to smells and I dreaded the overwhelming smells of pancakes and muffins and those normally made me feel a bit sick.

To my surprise this Ryan's location did not have this problem with breakfast! The smells were very minimal and didn't bother me. This was very cool.

I also noticed a pretty good selection of breakfasty foods. I normally don't like them, but I do like bacon and eggs and the other kind of sausage and I found them here so I was happy.

I ate those and they were pretty good. I Consider myself the best eggmaker and even I was impressed! The bacon was nice and crisp and the sausage was great.

I was also happy they had made-to-order omlettes for free! I tried one and it was eggcellent! I wolfed it down pretty quick and it was the perfect texture and it did not have exessive burnt like another omlette chain.

I will also note that Heather, our waitress was very nice and pretty helpful. She was bright and attentive today. She smiled a good bit and was generally good to be around.

I have to highly recommend Ryan's for breakfast and at just a little over 5 bucks it's great value and better then going to BK or mcdonalds and you get a lot more for the money.

Internet Explorer review

Review for Internet Explorer 2-20-11:

MSIE has always had top marketshare. However browsers like Firefox have taken it away. I am basing this review off stable browsers so the IE9RC will not appear in this review.

I shall outline the positives and negatives:

+
*finally has multi-tabbed browsing
*has accellerators that make searching for stuff easy as selecting text, and a popup icon comes up and you can search, bing, google, and wikipedia from it. Saves time
*improved page rendering from prev. versions, however still has issues with some CSS
*improved interface from earlier versions
*now has addons but not as large of selection as firefox.
*multiprocess browsing, each tab is own process


-
*performance is still not very good as it could be
*can be more of a memory hog than firefox--->takes up way more commit charge and RAM then FF does for all those tab-processes
*still has page rendering issues and some CSS does not work
*web devs still have issues with IE
*not as many addons as firefox
*security issues


Ratings---> performance 3/5 interface 4/5 features 4/5 stability 3/5 rendering 3/5 customization 3/5

Firefox Review

Review for Firefox 2-20-11:

Firefox has become the browser of choice for many people seeking alternatives to MS's IE. It has grown into a very nice browser and has many many features.

I shall outline the positives and negatives of this browser:

+
*has very good performance on most systems
*has very powerful addons and you can pretty much add any functionality to your browser you can think of
*more standards compliant and renders pages much better then MSIE
*is more secure then IE
*had multiple tabbed browsing before MSIE
*easier to develop for
*has the option to save all tabs on exit
*has search bar integrated
*robust bookmark management
*very active development
*flash plugin is now separate process
*excellent interface
*customization of theme is powerful and you can even make it look like IE

-
*can be a memory hog with plugins like flash
*sometimes slows down over time with certain websites
*does not have multiprocess tabs like IE does so if one tab crashes the whole browser is brought down (but this does not happen to me often)


I have to recommend this browser over MSIE because the mem usage on my system is actually much lower then MSIE8 and MSIE8 takes up more paging file/commit charge and thrashes my disk more. Also it is harder to kill the flash plugin process if it starts to bloat. FF has better bloat control as a result. Most of the tab crashing in FF relates to Flash anyways.

Ratings---> performance 4/5 interface 5/5 features 5/5 stability 4/5 rendering 5/5 customization 5/5

Mapping sites showdown! Part 3: Mapquest

Hello and welcome to my review of the mapping site Mapquest

This review will be broken down into the positives and the negatives of the mapping site and will compare the performance of the routing engines at the end of this review.


First we shall take a look at the positives of the mapping site.

Mapquest uses NAVTEQ for their mapping data.

First topic: interface: Mapquest has recently revamped their user interface and made it more like the other mapping sites. It used to have a very different interface and it was sort of confusing for some users. It now works like Bing Maps or Google Maps. This seemed to be a positive move for them, as the complaints on “how do I do this” dropped on their forums and facebook page. I like the new mapquest interface so far. It has made things much easier to do.

Another thing I like is the quick POI's (points of interest) on the top to easily located hotels, gas, food, etc.

I also like the “send to” tools, as it has several options to easily send maps and directions to like facebook links, email links, GPS units, Mobile Phones, and more.

Directions show hints like “if you've reached x you've gone to far”

Printing directions are robust and you can display every turn's map allowing for greater visibility into your route and greatly assists you. The printing directions show miles driven on each column as well. You can even hide rows, and have zooming controls on each mini map and the detail is great. It also displays miles per section and a good bit of other details. They have the best printing options of any of the mapping sites.

Mapquest also has 360 degrees view of select areas and this is very helpful to finding locations and checking out new areas, However it is not as refined as Bing Maps or Google Maps. I will get to that more in the next section.

The site performance is very good and very fast. It is very responsive and the best of the mapping sites.

Now we shall take a look at the negatives of the mapping site:

Mapquest has been struggling for years with their reputation for getting people lost due to inaccurate address inputs and processing, and taking you through unwanted roads and roads you know of are in error.

For me it has been a mixed affair. Sometimes it is very good, and others has been very bad.

But for the review purposes I will apply this to my trips only.

So far the address inputs and processing for me, personally have been decent. Mapquest did show the proper location for the address I did input for this trip.

So for my case this is not so much of a negative on my end, but has been negative for most people

The 360 degree view is pretty restrictive and has trouble with people using some 'flash blockers” and clicking to enable puts it into a persistent loading state and never loads the control. The only fix for this is making an exception for Mapquest.com or not using the “flash block”.

It is not as freeform as Bing Maps or Google Maps. You must click on little orange dots to “drive”forward and panning is a little wonky.

Now for the route dragging it can be a little wonky because it can be a tad fitsy at times, but Bing Maps sometimes has this issue as well.

Right click is inactivated for most of the interface.


Let's take a look at the routing options:
Route options: Shortest time, shortest distance with avoidances that include the following: highways,seasonal roads,ferries, tolls, county borders, timed restrictions

Now we shall move onto the routing engine performance!

I took my trip to MicroCenter to purchase my monitor on 9.22.10 that I am now using to write this review on. It is a good bit of a trip, but I thought it was worth it!

I sent the directions to my cellphone as a MMS message so I can take it with me since I did not have a printer at the time and I did not have a GPS unit or a phone with one. It worked and formatted decently well and was pretty easy to read.

I did choose to drag the route, as I did not want to take the back way to my destination, However I did let Mapquest do the rest.

Mapquest seems to be more willing to use freeways by default. That's good.

The route was : 2 hours 37 minutes | DISTANCE: 155.89 miles according to Mapquest and seemed reasonable.

The timing was fairly accurate, had we not stopped at a rest area and talked to a man with his dog for a long time. (laughs)

I will present the route in more detail:

Please note: I am going to start at step 7 to avoid disclosing my current location:

    7. Merge onto I-70 W via EXIT 44B on the LEFT toward COLUMBUS.  (go 70.72 miles)
    8. Take the I-270 S/I-270 N exit, EXIT 108A-B, toward CINCINNATI/CLEVELAND.  (go 0.2 miles)
    9. Take the I-270 N exit, EXIT 108B, toward CLEVELAND.  (go 1.26 miles)
    10. Take the US-270 exit on the LEFT toward CLEVELAND.  (go 0.88 miles)
    11. Merge onto I-270 N.  (go 7.09 miles)
    12. Keep LEFT to take I-270 N toward MORSE RD/CLEVELAND.  (go 10.52 miles)
    13. Merge onto OH-315 S via EXIT 22 toward COLUMBUS.  (go 3.77 miles)
    14. Take the BETHEL RD exit.  (go 0.31 miles)
    15. Turn RIGHT onto BETHEL RD.  (go 0.91 miles)
    16. Turn LEFT onto DALMENY CT.  (go 0.03 miles)
    17. Turn RIGHT to stay on DALMENY CT.  (go 0.18 miles)
    18. Take the 1st RIGHT to stay on DALMENY CT.  (go 0.03 miles)
    19. Turn RIGHT onto BETHEL RD.  (go 0.66 miles)
    20. 747 BETHEL RD is on the RIGHT.  (go 0 miles)
747 Bethel Rd, Columbus, OH 43214-1901

As you can see the I270 stretch is broken down into 5 steps and it is very hard for drivers to see this. The route did not need to be broken down into so many steps because just one maneuver was really needed for this trip. This made it difficult to navigate this because it made us think the route was more complex then it really was.

The route ending wanted me to make sure my destination was on the right side by having me turn into this one apartment complex, turn around in their road, and then go back on bethel road, and then turn right to get to my destination! This was really strange because all I really needed to do was turn left at the light to get there.

However I have noticed they have improved the ending result (date executed: 11.20.10) of this trip and it is a tad better now:

7.Merge onto I-70 W via EXIT 44B on the LEFT toward COLUMBUS.70.7 mi
8.Take the I-270 S/I-270 N exit, EXIT 108A-B, toward CINCINNATI/CLEVELAND.0.2 mi
9.Take the I-270 N exit, EXIT 108B, toward CLEVELAND 1.3 mi
10.Take the US-270 exit on the LEFT toward CLEVELAND.0.9 mi
11.Merge onto I-270 N.7.1 mi
12.Keep LEFT to take I-270 N toward MORSE RD/CLEVELAND.10.5 mi
13.Merge onto OH-315 S via EXIT 22 toward COLUMBUS.3.8 mi
14.Take the BETHEL RD exit.0.3 mi
15.Turn RIGHT onto BETHEL RD.0.4 mi
16.Make a U-TURN onto BETHEL RD.0.1 mi
17.747 BETHEL RD is on the RIGHT.

Instead of the weird anomaly at the apartment complex it shortens the ending and results in a un-needed u-turn. This is some improvement at least! It does tell you the side of the road your destination is. Bing Maps does not suggest the u-turn, it simply tells you that you've arrived at your destination and you need to make the final choice on your own! We realistically did not have to make the u-turn we just turned left at the light to get to MicroCenter.

Overall for for the routing engine performance I will give them a 2.5/5 For this trip. I really hope to see them improve!

I will be doing a follow up with all these sites on the next longer trip.

Overall my ratings for each category are as follows:

presentation:4/5 routing performance:2.5/5 printing:4/5 ease of use:5/5 routing options:4/5 website performance:5/5

Overall rating (all categories) 4/5

Recommended: maybe


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Shoney's Reviews!

Shoney's Lunch Review for 2-19-11:

We tried the same location again for lunch this time and it was pretty good.

I did notice the smells more though, but we were easily able to relocate to a less intense part of the restaurant.

I ordered their sirloin steak and a loaded baked potato today.

It also included the salad bar and I made a decent salad. You can put this “ham” on it but I think it might have been spam or something else. It was quite strong and weird tasting. I also wish they would label the dressings. I was still able to get ranch dressing though.

I waited about half an hour to get my steak and it was pretty juicy and nice tasting. Not as good as Longhorn's steak but it was still good.

My loaded baked potato was a tad overcooked, but still tasted good and had lots of cheese and bacon bits.

My husband had a Blackend Chicken Sandwitch and he thought it tasted amazing! He also really liked his fries.

Our waitress was pretty attentive and gave me a new glass before I was done with my old one. That was nice. She seemed pleasant.

The pricing was average for a place like this. Not too high but not too cheap. The quality seemed to be alright for the price.

I would recommend this Shoney's location for lunch. 

------------------------------------------------------

Shoney's review for 2.17.11:

We decided after approx 10 years of ever visiting a Shoney's that we would give it a shot for breakfast because we were hungry and didn't know what to do.

We were greeted nicely and got our seat and it was decent for comfort level. We were given our menus and we looked over them and they seemed to have a nice selection. We decided to take a look at the breakfast buffet and decided on that.

I got scrambled eggs with cheese, bacon, and sausage.

The scrambled eggs were nice. They had a good consistency and they tasted great. Specially with the cheese.

The sausages (I normally don't like this kind of sausage) but I found it really good. Could use a little more plumpness though.

The bacon was very full of flavor and it was strong, but good. It wasn't as plump as I like it, but at least it wasn’t overly fatty or greasy. I liked it.

Our waitress was pretty nice and pretty prompt. She even got some toast made for my sister. One waitress also complemented on my sister's cute kitty ear hat. She thought it was cute. LOL.

The pricing was not too bad and overall I would recommend this Shoney's location.

Mapping sites showdown! Part 2: Bing Maps

Hello and welcome to my review of the online mapping website Bing Maps from Microsoft.

This review will be broken down into the positives and the negatives of the mapping site and will compare the performance of the routing engines at the end of this review.


First we shall take a look at the positives of the mapping site.

Subject: The interface:First I will note that the interface for Bing Maps is very intuitive, and you can get started on getting a map or directions right away.

Please note: I am testing and basing my review on the Microsoft Silverlight version of bing maps, your mileage may vary on the standard AJAX version. features are equivalent on both experiences except the following: Streetside view, Map Apps, PhotoSynths, and Dynamic Labels are only on the Silverlight version.

I found the interface to be very fast and performance was pretty good on my quad core system

The interface was also very awesome and fun to use with the new SilverLight controls. Look ma! No tiles! The map loaded smooth and dragging around had a nice feel to it. The zooming was smooth as well.

The biggest thing I really liked was the awesome StreetSide imagery! It is fantastic with very crisp image quality compared to Google Maps Streetview. It is actually rendered at a 3d image with photo textures applied, making it look realistic and not the distorted fish eye view you see in hotel virtual tour applications. “driving” with that is also very smooth and has some neat transitions as well. It is getting closer to taking a virtual drive to a city you want to check out. I like it a lot!

There are also a lot of useful “map apps” that can help you find, for example, restaurants, hotels, and some health apps to aid in people doing research, and the most essential traffic updates.

Now on to the next point and one of the most important points: Address input and processing:
I found the address inputs and processing to be quite accurate. They are using NAVTEQ's mapping data which they are the largest digital mapping company and have been pretty good with their data quality. I have only seen a rare few instances where the data has been inaccurate and you can easily report it to them and they should have it corrected. I have seen many corrections I have noticed be fixed moderately quick. Bing Maps finds most destinations inputted correctly but searching comes up with different results then Mapquest or Yahoo Maps.

In the directions category, Bing Maps gives hints like “if you've reached x you've gone too far” aiding drivers in finding their destinations. Route wording is very clear and to the point. It formats very well for cellphones or devices with smaller screens.





Now let's move on to the negative things about Bing Maps:

First topic: The interface:
The color scheme may be harder for people using older, more washed out monitors, or people using a laptop in the car. This is also harder for people that have vision impairments and Not good for night-time viewing. The color scheme is very white looking. It presents fine on my nice monitor, however other people might have problems.

There also is a lack of easy-share links for facebook, twitter, etc. But that is not too much of a problem.

The third topic is printing options: The printing options are not as much as I expected and only presents limited images for select few turns. Mapquest and Yahoo Maps have excellent printing options compared to Bing Maps.


Now let's move on to the routing options!

Route options: Shortest time, shortest distance with avoidances that include the following: highways and tolls and transport modes that include the following: walking, and driving.

Rating for routing options: 4/5

Now on to the Routing engine performance!

I took my trip to MicroCenter to purchase my monitor that I am now using to write this review on. It is a good bit of a trip, but I thought it was worth it!

I sent the directions to my cellphone as a MMS message so I can take it with me since I did not have a printer at the time and I did not have a GPS unit or a phone with one. It worked and formatted very well and was very easy to read.

I did choose to drag the route, as I did not want to take the back way to my destination, However I did let Bing Maps do the rest.


The route was : 154.3 mi, 2 hr 18 min according to Bing and seemed reasonable.

The timing was fairly accurate, had we not stopped at a rest area and talked to a man with his dog for a long time. (laughs)





I will display some of the routing information here for you to see how the routing engine performed for this trip. I will start at step 7 to avoid displaying my current location:
    7. At exit 44B, take ramp left for I-70 West toward Columbus 70.7 mi 8. At exit 108B, take ramp right for I-270 North toward Cleveland 20.0 mi 9. At exit 22, take ramp right for SR-315 South toward Columbus 3.8 mi 10. Take ramp right and follow signs for Bethel Rd 0.3 mi 11. Turn right onto Bethel Rd 0.2 mi 12. Arrive at 747 Bethel Rd, Columbus, OH 43214-1901 The last intersection is Olentangy River Rd If you reach Jasonway Ave, you've gone too far B: 747 Bethel Rd, Columbus, OH 43214-1901

When we did get to Columbus, OH we encountered a very messy road system at I270-W and it looked very messy, however, Bing Maps made it look easy and only had one step for the I270 mess. This was very good and made us confident and more relaxed. I am very happy that the directions were very blunt and easy to remember, this is great for drivers who don't want to constantly look at the directions and want to keep their eyes on the road.

The route also ended quite well and was accurate for the ending point. Was very close. However Bing Maps did not tell you which side of the road it was on and didn't tell you when you needed to turn into the shopping center where MicroCenter is located.

Now the default route it would have chosen was pretty good as well. However I will only be reviewing routes I did take and actually drive on to be fair as possible and to understand the rationale behind each mapping site's decisions.

I will have to say that I was impressed with Bing Maps routing engine performance and I would easily give them a 4.5/5 overall!

Overall my ratings for each category are as follows:

presentation:4/5 routing performance:5/5 printing:3/5 ease of use:4/5 routing options:4/5 website performance:3/5

Recommended: Yes


Friday, February 18, 2011

Mapping sites showdown! Part 1: Google Maps

Hello and welcome to my review of the online mapping website Google Maps.

This review will be broken down into the positives and the negatives of the mapping site and will compare the performance of the routing engines at the end of this review.

First we shall take a look at the positives of the mapping site.

Subject: The interface:First I will note that the interface for Google Maps is very intuitive, and you can get started on getting a map or directions right away.

The color scheme is very legible and easy to see. Works well with printing as well. The layout and controls are very easy to follow. Since it uses AJAX it is very cross platform friendly and works without any special browser plugins. It is also very responsive. It is easy to “share to” with a fair amount of “share to” links. It is very easy to send to mobile phones and GPS devices. Printing options are very much like Mapquest's. They are pretty good and include maps for each turn and even has street view for them as well.

Some cool stuff: You can enable the “labs” views and click on it and enable showing of latitude and longitude co-ordinates. You can also view bird's eye imagery and drag-n-zoom and shorted URLs.

Google has the most street view coverage. Even has areas that are out in the middle of nowhere!

Second: Mapping and address inputs and processing: data is updated quite frequently with it's semi community approach. Google used to have NAVTEQ data at first, then used Tele Atlas, Now Google is using their own data mostly gathered from their street view coverage, as well as being lightly based off their latest Tele Atlas set. This means they have more control over their data and they keep costs down by not having to license data from another provider.


Now we shall take a look at the negatives:

Address inputs and processing: mapping errors are more common as google has switched datasets and now are relying on their own data, so things are a bit wonky now. Hopefully this will get better soon. 

I have also recently hit some performance issues with Google maps. The site performance has not been as fast lately. I hope they address this problem. I will knock down site performance 1.5 stars for this.  However it is still faster then using Bing Silverlight Maps. 

Now let's move onto the routing options!

Route options: Shortest time, shortest distance with avoidances that include the following: highways,and tolls and transport modes that include the following: driving,public transport, walking, and biking

rating for routing options: 4/5

let's move on to the routing engine performance!

I took my trip to MicroCenter to purchase my monitor that I am now using to write this review on. It is a good bit of a trip, but I thought it was worth it!

I sent the directions to my cellphone as a MMS message so I can take it with me since I did not have a printer at the time and I did not have a GPS unit or a phone with one. It worked and formatted very well and was very easy to read.


I did choose to drag the route, as I did not want to take the back way to my destination, However I did let Google Maps do the rest.


The route was : 154. mi, 2 hr 34 min according to Google Maps and seemed reasonable.

The timing was fairly accurate, had we not stopped at a rest area and talked to a man with his dog for a long time. (laughs)

7.Take exit 44B on the left to merge onto I-70 W toward Columbus 70.5 mi
8.Take exit 108B to merge onto I-270 N toward Cleveland 20.0 mi
9.Take exit 22 to merge onto OH-315 S toward Columbus 3.8 mi
10.Exit onto Bethel Rd 0.6 mi
11.Turn left 0.1 mi
12.Turn right Destination will be on the left 144 ft

I am happy that they have not broken down the I270 stretch. This makes it much easier on drivers because not very many moves are really needed. As you can see Google Maps has the clearest directions of all the mapping sites and even navigates me directly to the destination. They tell you the side of the road the destination is. This is very good.

I will have to say that I was impressed with Google Maps routing engine performance and I would easily give them a 4.5/5 overall!

Overall my ratings for each category are as follows:

presentation:5/5 routing performance:4/5 printing:5/5 ease of use:5/5 routing options:4/5 website performance:3.5/5 (formerly 5/5)