Granite City Food & Brewery Saint Cloud – A Review!

April 4th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Granite CityFor my birthday, we decided to try something different. Normally I try to do something like Mexican Village or something unique. I had not been to Granite City Food & Brewery in a long time, so I thought that it would be fun to try it. Now, I am a fair reviewer. I do not review a restaurant to blast them. An average experience only gets an average number (or a three), that said…

We arrived at a busy time on a Wednesday, it was like 6:30 in the evening and I knew that it was going to be a little busy. We had a ten minute wait, which I thought was pretty good. The place was busy and we had a small group waiting for tables. A minor accident in the parking lot seemed to help the time pass as people could not figure out how someone had backed into a car and then still took out a handicap sign. I feel sorry for the employee that parked there. I guess to the employee that parked there, do not pick the first parking spot if you know that the place will be packed?

We arrive at our table and sat down. I never liked tables because I feel that I never have enough room. I did feel comfortable though. The table was nicely set and had room to eat when normally you see so many menus and items on the table that you are not able to add anything to the table. The presentation was nice. Our waitress announced her name and the specials. I did not catch anything since I was at her back.

The people that I was with decided to sample some beer. I had ordered my normal drink since I do not like the taste of beer. My guests had talked me into sampling a beer to see if my taste buds had changed. When our drinks were delivered, we had a different waitress who delivered our drinks and was gone in the second that I looked down to look at the name of the beer that they recommended.

The recommendations that I had were to try the flatbread pizzas, so the three of us decided to split a couple of them. After the order was placed, the pressure was off and we were able to socialize a little even though for a dining establishment, it was a little loud. I guess to be expected as this is typically a bar. Everything was clean and a welcoming environment.

Our pizzas arrived nicely and they looked delicious. Interesting enough, if you order pizzas they typically do not bring plates? We had to call the waiter that delivered them (a third person) back to request them. We thought that it was odd that you had to request them at a restaurant. The dining appeared to be semiformal, so you would think that even a mediocre pizza establishment you would get plates before requesting them.

The food was awesome! While the Prosciutto Olive sounded more appealing, the Pepper Bacon and Tomato was something that I would definitely recommend to others venturing to Granite City. The food was displayed very well and fit the atmosphere.

Before we were done eating, we had the check. I wonder if we were being rushed out so that they could make room for others. Looking around, the place was starting to die down. I was hoping for dessert to round off the night. I thought that I would not ask, since I thought that would be something that they would typically do to try to make the tab a little more expensive (higher tab, higher tip?) so I pulled out the gift cards that I was given for Christmas. The bill was not that high, so it covered the bill. We decided that we would leave only a 25% tip since we were not impressed with the service. Now remember with tipping, 15% is supposed to be customary if you had a good time. The meal was okay but service was not so $7 at 25% is a pretty good tip.

Still deciding to enjoy the night, we stayed for a little longer to socialize. We stayed but the wait staff did not check on us at all. I was doing a little timing and noticed that it was about 45 minutes and nobody stopped to ask if we would like another drink or anything. I wonder if the waitress was mad that she only received a $7 tip. We decided that since the dining room was starting to clear out, we would as well.

I decided to give this experience two stars since on a scale of one to five, three would be average and this was not. I understand a busy restaurant, but the staff can take two seconds to stop and check on how things are going. Every time we were visited it seemed like they were gone before you could open your mouth. I am not sure if this location had a lack of training possibly that they did not visit us more. It seemed like after we had paid, we were forgotten.

Interesting Network Comparisons….

December 15th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, I know, I have not been all that available to update this as frequently as I had liked. I am sorry. Today I did something interesting and was shocked by the Sprint response.

For some of you who know me, they know that I love technology. For those that know even more, I work in cellular technologies. Being I work in cellular technologies, I believe in having network coverage with a couple different companies. I have my work internet and I have Sprint as my personal phone.

Over the last few days I have been presented the opportunity to test a new network in the area, and in doing so I have noticed that I am still not getting the speeds that Sprint has promised. Yesterday I was getting 9 kbps (well below the threshold to call that 3g). In doing some tests then on T-Mobile, NewCore, and Sprint (and not only my phone, but also Brady’s iPhone 5) we were shocked at the results.

NewCore Speed Tests

NewCore Speed Tests

Sprint was getting 9 – 400 kbps and was very sporadic. It was nuts. With two different phones, and two different cellular geniuses, we could see that something was wrong with the network and not our phones. T-Mobile was getting around 5 mbps and the NewCore network was getting about 4 mbps. The other two networks were great, Sprint was having issues.

This morning while at home, I decided to do some more tests. For people that know where I live, I am only about a thousand feet from the tower; I should get great speeds. T-Mobile was getting 173 kbps (Edge network at home), NewCore (Duet Internet & Phone) was getting 3.35 mbps and Sprint was getting 122 kbps.

Lets call Sprint and see what they have to say. So, calling Sprint I spoke to a few different people. The first person was nice and even after explaining my background and that we have tested this with not one, but two phones, she still insisted on testing my phone. After doing a few tested she said that it was confirmed that it was not my phone (yep, I knew that). She then checked on Sprint ReadyNow network; nothing wrong there. She said that I should be getting between 600 kbps and 1.5 mbps. Yeah, okay… so then she recommends transferring me to a supervisor. When Sprint transfers you to a supervisor they try to stay on he line and speak to the supervisor first and then transfer you in. After a while she said that she did not want me to hold any longer and she just forwarded me to her supervisor. So it rings and then I get a message that the mailbox was full and it hung up on me.

T-Mobile Speed Tests

T-Mobile Speed Tests

So, I did some more testing, changing from the Speedtest.net application to a web-based speed test, and still showing the same results (actually worse but not much of a difference). So I decided to call back. Speaking to someone else in technical support, she said that I should be getting better speeds and did some checking. She said that I should change some settings in my phone because the LTE towers were not configured in my area. In doing all that (about 6 minutes of work) I still seen nothing for comparisons and had just thought that I would check my early termination fee (ETF) as a result of the poor Sprint network.

So I am transferred to an Account Representative from Sprint and was asked why I would like to cancel when all I had asked was how much the fee was. I explained that I was not happy with the 3G speeds that Sprint had said that they offered and that it was only getting worse it seemed like the longer that I had been a customer. She had told me that Sprint has the best 3G network and that I was making a mistake cancelling. Again, I am only inquiring about the fee, not cancelling yet, but explained my testing. She told me that T-Mobile has the worst network when I had told her that I was doing some comparison testing with the Edge network. When I explained that they were getting faster speeds, she just said that the ETF was $180. I am shocked that it is so high when it is really Sprint that is not keeping their word here.

Sprint Speed Tests

Sprint Speed Tests

Class Action Lawsuit? Has any of Sprints customers thought about doing a lawsuit? Is anyone getting their speeds that they were told? I was told that I would be getting 4G three years ago with the WiMax technology, but since they dumped that and swapped to LTE I am not sure if I am going to get that in October of 2013 like they are promising. When you figure out how much you are paying now, and what they are promising, I think that a refund is in order.

Something to think about…

Also for anyone that is curious, I was using a Samsung Galaxy Note on the T-Mobile network, a Samsung Galaxy s iii on the Sprint network and an iPhone 4s on the NewCore network.

An Android user bites into the evil Apple…

November 21st, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

After the personal battle with myself I decided that I needed to learn the iPhone and iOS. As a result I grabbed an iPhone 4s so that I could have the midrange iPhone to which I could learn the system and review applications. The price was about the same of the Samsung Galaxy s III, which I have for personal use.

Pulling the phone out of the box, I was not impressed by the size of the phone. I have a Samsung Galaxy s III and in the past have had a variety different Android phones. I have become accustomed to Android and since I value open source applications truly believe in Android and how it has come about. I knew that the iPhone was going to smaller, but this seemed almost too small to use. With the weight of the phone, it did seem to fit comfortably in my hand.

» Read the rest of this entry «

Look mom! No phone!

August 24th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Over the last year smartphones have evolved from something small (mini browsers, a word app, etc) to the point where I can just about do anything. Tomorrow I am even going to play with a half tab (a half phone, half tablet) that can do a lot more than the first Motorola Flip Phone I purchased 15 years ago.

Over the last year I have been learning more and more about different applications that would allow me to text from my computer. Originally I thought to search for this solution after seeing that Google Voice allows you to text from a computer. The only vice with Google Voice is that it is not the number that everyone has from me.

Texting has evolved from sending a message to a friend to this is a product that is used in the business world. With more and more people having mobile offices; emails and phone calls have become a thing of the past. When I need something it would take five minutes for the salutations whereas if I send a text I can send the text and get the message if they are on the phone, in a meeting, etc. The same is for the data needed for sending and receiving emails. Text messages are something that has become simple, easy, and free for many cellular carriers.

I have found a few solutions that offer something close to what I envisioned. Nothing seemed to be complete and flawless, but I found a solution that I prefer.

Google Voice would be nice if I had already given my number to everyone. If not I would have to explain to everyone that my number has changed. I also noticed that the Google Voice does not have the best voice quality. Would I tell everyone to call one number but text another? Also I do not get any notification that I have an incoming text on the Google Voice website.

Samsung has the Kies Air product that allows me to transfer photos, documents, etc. and also allows me to text. The product is nice as in that it is robust, even though the appearance is not quite there. It works but it is not meant for texting. The conversation is not saved as a conversation or by contact. It is all one text at a time. When I was trying to hold a conversation with multiple people, even I would get lost in the conversation. The solution is a free product so who can really complain?

MightyText was the first application that I have found and tested. Some of the things that I was not happy with was that it added a tag into my contact record. Also I noticed that at one point it had also mixed up some of the contact records and to my surprise it was sending my messages intended for one person to someone completely different. That is when I noticed the tags. Also the computer application seemed to not be as functional as what I was hoping for.

BrowserTexting for me has caught my eye. It seems like one of the fastest, most reliable, systems that are out there. This is the system that I would recommend.

The positives are simple! To start using BrowserTexting you just have to download the app from the Google Play store and then scan the QR code on your computer from the www.browsertexting.com website with your phone. You will then get a message that you are connected. The system is clean, easy to use, and I think that I could have someone that is cellphone illiterate using the system in a couple minutes. With how fast the system is I am able to send many more text messages and hold many more conversations than normal. As a result I have taken this application not only as a personal application but also a business application.

I did find a couple negatives though. While they offer a free service, if you are serious about texting (and send 14,000 texts a month) like me you will want to pay the $14.99 for the Premium Unlimited. It is not that expensive, but I think for a phone application it is higher. I have also never really liked subscription services but rather something where I purchase the application. After speaking with one of the developers, I understand that they have taken the payment portion away from Google Play as a result of their fee of 30% profit. Also at times it is really slow using my home internet on my phone. I am not sure if it is a bandwidth issue or if it is something from my internet service provider. I do not have the best internet living in a rural area, but I make due and just turn off the wifi.

Feel free to check out the different applications. I recommend BrowserTexting and will continue to use this application. Enjoy!

I took another day off on the Mississippi! 2012

August 12th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

 

For the last three or four years, since it started, I have been involved with the Take a Day Off on the Mississippi event at Mississippi River County Park, Stearns County. This year with MsRubble we made the event go really well. Sadly, we have not been able to get help for the event and I have notified everyone that we are going to have to pull geocaching out of the event as a result. Geocaching has always gone over really well at these types of events. At this event we have the ability to send out GPS units with the people to go find a cache.

However due to the lack of help, I have notified the event saying that we are done. For the last few years it has been popular (and I think that this year we had more than last) but it will have to go away. It will be a relief to take a step back though I think and be able to relax. I might still assist the event but I think that geocaching will just go away.