I’m asking for your help. (About this Summer)

The Youtube Casey Neistat inspired me with his recent video on the beginning of Summer.

This made me think. How can I make this summer the best that I have ever had.

A quick list for me came up to:

  1. Go out swimming in Lake Michigan (I haven’t done that in the last 4 years that I’ve been here)
  2. Rent a Jet Ski
  3. Visit a state that I haven’t yet. (Michigan will probably be it)
  4. Fly to somewhere new (I’m tempted to come out to Austin)
  5. The x-effect with meditation (Maybe?)
  6. Grill out an absurd amount.
  7. ….

But here is the challenge that I’m putting out there for everyone reading. What are some things that I could do to make this summer the best ever?

Please leave the comments below.

My Second Chicago Java User’s Group: I didn’t know you could do that with Groovy!

Previously I blogged about my first experience in doing a brief tech talk in front of my local Java User’s Group. I recall that I was incredibly nervous and ill prepared. Well, I took the feedback from the talk, prepared better for this talk and came ready to give my talk. The talk was on how Groovy makes quite a few improvements over Java, and it was in the format of a lightning talk. At the moment the video is being processed and it should be up within a week or two.

While you’re waiting for the video, I’ll leave you with the slides and the Github link.

German Food In Chicago

Going to Germany has a lot of great things about: it’s people, the sights/architecture, Christkindlmarket, and it’s food. One of the best things about Germany is the Gemuctchliket and Schtnzelhauses. The good Schnitzelhaus’ are hard to find in Germany, for good reason. Any place in Germany that serves schnitzel is promptly compared how the patron’s mother would make it. I’ve found them under train stations (Check out the schnitzel shop under Warshauer Strasse), or hidden by forests (as in the case in Heidelberg and Hassloch).

For the most part, the schnitzel is a very simple dish (pork chop that is flatten, breaded, and deep fried), but it’s treated as a rare dish in the United States. I’m not sure whether it’s due to an unflattering/”boring” reputation or if it hasn’t been marketed well. It’s a little strange as that Americans’ love 2 things in food: 1. Pork chops and 2. deep fried foods.

It’s hard to find a German Restaurant that does a good job at this. It’s even more rare to find one that is a bit more affordable. In Austria outside of the Westbahnhof you can get a huge schnitzel as big as your head and chips for ~8e. In Chicago, you have a few options for German food, and you have an entire German neighborhood. Some of the places include: Resi’s Bierstube, Lachet Inn, Gene’s Sausage shop, Prost, the Radler, and the Berghoff.

So starting with the bad and the ugly.  My criteria is based on getting a schnitzel and hoping for at least the tasty sides that you would get in Germany. (I.e. Spaetzle) In a short manner here are some of the issues:

  1. Berghoff: This is the “Chicago traditional” type of place. It also claims to be Geman. From my experience the only thing it has going for it’s self is that it’s big and that it’s been there for quite a while. The food was bad and over cooked. Even the airport versions at O’Hare aren’t so great.
  2. Lachet Inn – This place is good, but not a comfortable Schnitzel restaurant in Germany good.
  3. Gene’s Sausage Shop – This is a great grocer and European shop. However they open up the rooftop as a beer garden in the warmer months. Unfortunately the food isn’t so great.
  4. Proost- I’ve had nothing but bad service here. They attempt to reproduce a beer hall, but run it like a distrusting club. (I’ve even had the door person demand that I take my license out of the clear portion of my wallet [Like one would when showing a TSA person])
  5. The Radler- The Radler is a great bar. Unfortunately it considers German cuisine to be extremely high class and attempts to price itself in the same category as Sarah’s Weiner. (An upscale and pricey German restaurant in Berlin) Their Schnitzel is decent and they attempt to try to over door all of the sides. The sides that come with the dish are bacon braised lentils, pickled beets, and figs. For ordering a schnitzel this seems like overkill. Additionally a meal here will set you back $24+18% mandatory tip/service charge before tax.  The only upside to this place is that they have a good set of taps at the bar. (I wouldn’t come back here for food)

We’ll I lied, that isn’t all of the German places in Chicago, and not all of them are less than stellar. There is one so far that has impressed me quite a bit. Unfortunately they’re closing soon. The place is “The Mirabell.” It is conveniently located a block or two off of the Addison blue line, and since their “reopening” after nearly closing in May they’re open Thursday-Sunday every week. The food is great, the Spaetzle is a bit different but still delicious, and the prices are great. They charge somewhere around $15 for a Schnitzel, and their drinks are typically $7 for a large beer.

Java 8: Presentations, and audience engagement

Last night I went to my local, Chicago, Java User Group and I had a great time. I saw the Speaker Jim Weaver present the new changes within Java 8. He was an incredibly well prepared and highly knowledgeable individual on the subject. He answered my questions, and anticipated for them.

I did something incredibly unorthodox for someone sitting in a technical talk. I took lots notes with paper and pen. That helped me to come up with questions and to save them for later. It was nearly as if I was back in college, but this time I had a full concentration on the subject material without the pressure to consume the material. However, something stuck out. Very few people asked questions, Mr. Weaver clearly encouraged questions and even bribed people. However, very few seemed to be interested in asking questions. I found this to be incredibly odd. I cannot tell if it’s the “midwest attitude”: Its been observed that midwesterners will tend to be silent during the entire presentation and then ask questions later. Who knows, it could have been the audiences’ tired-ness after work. The lack of questions gives give appearance of the lack of engagement.

For a brief introduction to the new changes to Java 8, I feel like I am prepared to go through a few samples, and maybe able to make a few extensions to the Stream API.