Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Restaurant "The Rome"

I went to go eat at "The Rome" last night. Nice place good staff, great food overall not a bad place - try it out before its gone.

I arrived earlier than my friend who suggested the place. And I was quickly prompted by a waitress who seated me. I perused the menu a bit to see what I thought would be good - somehow I overlooked the lasagne that the ComoWhine authors did not. Oh well (I read their review after going)

The waitress was very attentive in fact almost annoyingly attentive. She had this odd idiosyncrasy of talking to you and then right before the end of the sentence running off. It was an odd experience because I couldn't help but try to listen to the doppler effect she created each time I was spoken too.

I believe the girl was extremely new, not just to this job but to waitressing altogether. It was obvious but forgiveable, I never judge a waitress poorly when it's that obvious she's new.

Scott arrived and doppler girl showed up and asked him for a drink, she came back with our waters and asked if we needed more time to choose.
Which we did. Scott and I were talking a lot, catching up over the past week or so worth of news, we just sort of sat there. doppler girl showed up several times asking us if we were ready to order.

We ordered begrudgingly, likely only because she showed up a few times. We looked at the menu's and after a while I could only come up with one thing I was interested in, which is sorta my safety at Italian restaurants, chicken alfredo. Scott got the Shrimp alfredo.

Scott mentioned that shrimp alfredo was his reference plate. After all if you are going to judge a place on its food I suppose it needs to be a dish you know well. I'm glad I got the chicken alfredo, if there is a dish I know well it would be that. But if you really want a judgement on the food, I should have gotten the lasagne. You see, there aren't many places that I'll order the lasagne, I just don't trust them to make it right.

Doppler girl, the waitress not the non-existent super heroine, shows up with our plates. Which looked darn good. I thought mine looked well prepared, almost worthy of a photograph. Scott's on the other hand looked like shrimp tossed onto a plate of alfredo. Well I shouldn't say tossed, they looked like they were well placed pieces of shrimp. They looked and tasted like they were taken straight from the boiler and placed right on the plate. I'm used to a more buttery shrimp or some kind of season compared to what it was.

My meal was quite interesting, first up there was a ball of undercooked dough or something mixed into the plate, looked like a lump of noodle. I'm not one to be picky about food but alien-egg-sack looking things in my plate scare me slightly. What I don't get is that if I found it in my first bite, how did the chef miss it. I pushed my dough-egg to the side and dove into the alfredo.

Let me say this. Wow, that's really good alfredo sauce. It could have been some alien egg yolk, but I think not. This sauce tasted like it was made from scratch. It's obvious.

One of the things I hate about just about everywhere else I go, you can taste the pre-packaged flavoring they call alfredo sauce or any other sauce for that matter. And I hate that every other place has way to much salt in their sauce. If you order the alfredo this is what you are eating it for - the flavor of the alfredo sauce.

I'm a big fan of olive garden, and I've never said their sauce was to die for, but I've always considered it tasty and its a big enough chain most of you could compare to that - so for reference. I'll say its amazing compared to Olive Garden. For you local folk - it's better than Bambino's - I tried that friday with my wonderful friend Karen (who is way to knowledgeable about 80's television)

The chicken in my meal was generally good, it was nicely seasoned and tasted great, wasn't an over the top experience but rounded the meal nicely.

It was about this time that our waitress arrived and left us a bread basket - she had forgotten for about 40 minutes, oh well - she's new.

Not much longer after this she asked us how we were doing and wanted to know if we would like our check - we did. Her response was "I'll go ggeett ttthhhaaattt" .. and fading off ..

Our check was an interesting situation, after she brought it I asked her if she could split it up, and she took it and split it, but arrive back with one singular tablet - she'd split the ticket on the same piece of paper - two seats, two cards, one piece of paper - I was thinking that the size of her tip was going to be directly related to her ability to bill the proper card.

I gave her the information she needed to bill us properly and she did. I was writing on my receipt the tip, and total and messed up in my head so - as to not have to rewrite the numbers I did some mental gymnastics and then used my cell phone to come up with numbers that worked. Lets just say - I tipped her well. I suppose this is fine, since I had already decided that she was going to be called doppler girl in my blog post.

All in all it was a good experience. The price of the meals did seem high - at first, but then I realized that it was probably spot on, simply because of all the "from scratch" effort they put into their meals.

The comment made by Scott was something to the effect of "Great place come here while you can". I feel this is on target, they have great food, and a nice place - but it was dead empty when we were there. Speaking strictly on demographics, the platters are a little high priced. The downtown location containing all of those "poor" college students is going to make it slim pickings for customers with a pocket book for their food. At least this is in my estimate - there are plenty of good placed downtown that seem a bit high to me, but they work - and I'm sure they can make it work as well. But all of those have a parking garage much closer than The Rome

That being said, I'd suggest going there and giving them a try. I was happy with everything, and if you get doppler girl don't fret, she was really nice, and you couldn't have asked for a more attentive waitress. As for the alien egg, I'm sure it wasn't hers. Well Okay I know it was just pasta dough, but you could and probably should complain about that if you want.

I'd give 'em a 7.5/10

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Python/Pygame and Ajax - Isometric Game

I've started a simple pygame isometric gaming engine, its all for research into isometric gaming and maths/problems with designing an isometric game.

Fairly simple fully commented posted on my domain - http://prozacville.com/projects/isometric-pygame/

Hope someone interested in developing one finds some use out of it. I've been researching the idea of producing a DHTML/javascript/ajax/web2.0 .. pick a buzzword - version of a similar engine.

I've decided that ground heights (Z) neet to be limited. The reason for this is in isometric maps a ground height of 10 is shown 10*(8 tile height) pixels above the point the base tile is shown - the problem is in the ajax or any client version the full map is only known by the server - I would only give the client a 20x20 or so tile space to observe. If a tile below this space is very tall - it should be opaquing the tiles above it but if I don't send it to the client then the client can't draw it. I've considered making the server, and for proper game interactions this may happen anyway, analyse a large grid - say 100x100 around the player and resolve these opaquing issues - but that increases server side processing.

Both client versions would have this issue so its worth solving or limiting, I couldn't imagine having a character walk up a 200 unit high tower - which might be fun but honestly confusing in an isometric game. since pieces tend to blend into Z coordinates with each other.

Anyway this is going to be a fun side project, probably not going to get lots of play time with it. But if anyone has some suggestions feel free to post em

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I Need a Posse of Developers

So the boss decides to go with a design that is flawed and annoyingly so, the problem is I can't validate my arguments so he's going his way, when I know - from experience its just outright bad thinking.

The situation is this: We have machines on a VPN that call home for updates of dynamic data (once every 5 minutes) I designed the system to work with uniq Machine ID numbers random numbers that are generated upon rolling out a machine.

When the machines call back home, they say hey I'm "a5f6c8278abcff" give me my data, and my design looks them up in the database find their city, state, and any other information on them, and passes back their city/state specific data. A system controlled by the central authority of the server.

The problem stems from the fact that the boxes have several names: hostname, VPN Id, and unique key. Originally the way I generated the unique id's for a box was to just md5 their hostname, and their vpn key was the same as their hostname, so in effect these are all just duplicated data.

The boss didn't like that, and I'm not one to argue so he decided that the unique key had to go - I think the only reason the unique key got nixed was simply because 32 hex chars are ugly compared to a host name.

I was more or less fine with the idea of just using the hostname as the unique identifier, originally all the boxes were named the exact same thing - I was afraid that this wasn't going to change so I used my own unique identifier for them. The boxes also submit statistics information back to the servers to maintain their temps/cpu usage/hdd usage etc. So I was woried that the host name duplication would clobber the reports, but he's going to maintain them so - its his problem..

But moving past that he has now decided that the host name should have a hyphenated hierarchical naming structure - like "state-city-stationname" - and that the hostname is to be used instead of looking up the information in the database.

In effect that moves all information control of the boxes to the boxes, it removes centralized control, and makes us rely upon a hostname of the box to be correct textual information.

In summation I've argued that the UniqueID offers more flexibility to the system, and not only that but, it just seems to me in larger systems like this - UniqueID's are more common - and who am I to argue with convention? Why can't we use the knowledge gained by those who travelled before us? We might not know all the reasons they chose that path, but we can gain from their insights without knowing all of the reasons. Not only that, but IMHO - extraction data from strings is not something I consider "clean", or well thought out.

I'm a singular voice here, so tell me what you think about his design vs. mine.