Sorry for the lack of updates, but I've been busy working and playing and eating. Grab your coffee, beer, or whatever. This is going to be a bit of a long one!
Hanging out in Microsoft Land
Last weekend, I took at trip down to Redmond to bask in the glory of Microsoft. But before I got there, I stopped off at the Seattle Premium Outlets and loaded up on NIKE stuff at the Factory Outlet Store. As my luck would have it, they had an ADDITIONAL 20% off their sale prices. On some stuff, I was saving over 80%. Add to that, the worth of the US PESO, and that was an extra 5% off. What a deal! I got so much stuff for the $205 US I spent, that it didn't seem right. That feeling didn't last long.
Unfortunately, by the time we got to Redmond, the MS visitor center had already closed and they aren't open for tours on the weekend, so I couldn't do the grand tour. Determined to have a souvenir, I did manage to take a shot before MS Campus Security chased me away.
While in Redmond, I stayed at the Silver Cloud Inn which is basically two blocks away from the MS Campus. The place had free WiFi, clean, and surprisingly cheap ($100 a night). They offered a help yourself breakfast which featured waffles that you make yourself on your own waffle iron. I'd definitely stay at this place again.
Because of the diverse ethnicity of the Microsoft staff, the area's eateries also reflected that. A block from the Hotel, you had your choice between, Malaysian, Chinese, Korean, East Indian, Mexican etc. You definitely won't go hungry in this town. Speaking of food, While fooding around, I came across a really cool place called the Coho Cafe Restaurant and Bar. The Coho Cafe seemed to be more like a high end family restaurant than a restaurant/bar. Kids were running around everywhere and the staff were well armed with crayons and colouring books to calm them down.
The first dish that I tried out was the MIXED PEPPER CALAMARI. It was dusted in a blend of cayenne, white & black pepper & garlic and flash fried. It was served with a roasted garlic lemon aïoli that had a nice kick to it. The only problem with the dish was that the calamari was sliced so thinly that it ended up drying out in the fryer. If the slices were a bit larger, it would have been perfect.
The most interesting dish was the one above that looked like a real crab California Roll, flipped inside out and stacked upwards. They call it the CRAB & AVOCADO TOWER. It features Dungeness Crab & Bay Shrimp, wasabi aioli, avocado on a furikake crusted sushi rice cake. This was really good and I'll definitely order it again.
Finally, we finished off with the GINGER CHICKEN LETTUCE WRAPS. The dish features Wok seared ginger chicken, braised shiitake mushrooms & water chestnuts served with tender butter lettuce. This dish had a bit of a kick to it but very enjoyable nonetheless.
Overall, the meal was really enjoyable, and the presentation was very good. It's like a high end family restaurant. The service was also really good. After dealing with all those tables with screaming kids, I'm sure we were a vacation to them. It was also a really good value as most dishes were WELL UNDER twenty dollars which should please a lot of family budgets and more value conscious diners. Definitely Stephen Fung DOT NET approved!
The ASUS Eee PC Lands in Canada
This past Thursday, ASUS launched their Eee PC in Canada. I had a chance to check it out and it seems like it will be a very promising little toy. They've kept it simple and the battery life and speed are very good for such a seemingly low powered machine. Parked beside my ALREADY tiny ASUS U1F, you can see just how small it is. You can check out my impressions of this cool little machine right here.
Contest Action at Futurelooks
Today marks the last day of our Week Three Giveaway sponsored by Thermaltake. This week we are giving away a MicroATX LanBox Case and a 650 Watt Modular Power Supply. Don't forget to stop by on Monday when Futurelooks will be announcing another giveaway in our Eight Crazy Weeks of Giveaways.
Other Futurelooks Happenings...
Things are getting pretty hectic with the contest and the product reviews and articles going up over at Futurelooks. Q4 is our biggest time of the year so busting ass is the only thing on my mind. I hope my next update is a little sooner than this one.
Like most of the other sites out there, we've been smacked by Google, but not as severely as some. I've gone from a PR 5 to PR 4 on my sites (with the exception of Futurelooks, which went from 5 to 3, which I'll explain in a sec). Allegedly, this has something to do with Google not liking sites selling paid links. In fact, if you look in their webmaster tools, they even have a form that you can use to report sites that sell links. Now, I do sell links using Text Link Ads on all my sites so I'm totally guilty, but what business does Google have telling me who to link to? I wonder what would happen if I reported myself. Hmm...
Since Futurelooks is my largest property, the drop from 5 to 3 probably had less to do with me selling link ads, than it did with a problem that I had with my HTACCESS file. The file essentially controls where people go when they type in one of your linked URL's out on the web. For example, if you changed your stock URL structure from a numbered structure (example.com/id=100) to a more descriptive structure (example.com/this_article_is_cool.html), it would send people to the right article. It also helps with redirecting old pages to the new pages when you've changed domain names, or have renamed pages.
For about a week after I changed over to my new design and backend, my HTACCESS file stopped working. All of my old links from both of my old backends totally died, and as a result, my 60,000 or so indexed pages dropped to around 35,000 pages indexed. All my High PR ranked pages disappeared and all this happened during the great "Google Smack Down". The good news is that thanks to Tyler Ingram, who helped me correct the errors on the file, I'm now at 38,500 and climbing. Traffic is also surging ahead.
Well, that's it for now! Hopefully, I'll be able to blog a bit more moving forward. It's been really hard to fit it in, especially since I tend to enjoy my time away from the computer.