Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Archive for the 'reviews' Category (11)

Review: Beef’d Up

First of all, apologies to anyone outside of LA. But we went to a new restaurant in Whittier, and I had to share. Because it’s new, the food was great and I want this place to succeed.

Beef’d Up is a gourmet burger restaurant located in Whittier at the intersection of Beverly Blvd and Norwalk Blvd. There are probably 10 total tables in the place, both indoors and two benches outside.

The idea behind it is that they use all fresh ingredients and natural/humanely raised beef. Their sauces are all made in-house.

Their menu is pretty basic. They have a monthly special in addition to a few basic burgers, but they also have the option for you to build your own burger.

TheBoy ordered their special, which was an ribeye sandwich on an Italian roll served with a beef broth dipping sauce (an au jus) and it was amazing. I built my own burger- with their brisket/sirloin mix, my favorite toppings and their garlic aioli. And it was tender, flavorful…

We also ordered a variety of sides, including their onion rings, fries and tempura battered mushrooms. All of them were great. (Their onion rings were some of the best I’ve had)

It’s a little higher priced than some of the sit down burger chains out there (I’m talking about Ruby’s), but worth every penny. They also have a kids menu (with chicken strips or grilled cheese)

And I get absolutely nothing from this review, other than hopefully a restaurant that’ll be around for years to come. Which I think is worth it.

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Beef’d Up
10722 Beverly Blvd, Ste V
Whittier, CA 90601
(562) 692-4000
Hours: 11am – 9pm
Delivery Hours: 12-4 M-F, $20 minimum
Their Facebook Page

[Vlog] Tech on the Go!

It’s Vlog #6 – And this time I’m talking about what I use to stay connected on the go! (Because really, I’m mildly addicted to my phone and spend a lot of time away from outlets)

These are the two items I mention:

HyperJuice Micro – made by HyperShop,
ChargeCard –

These are my own personal reviews. I bought these items on my own, put them through the ringer in my real life… they get the actual Geek Pirate Mom seal of approval. No compensation here. Just me sharing stuff that I liked.

App Review: Flickr

Since last month’s Instagram debacle, I decided to review alternative apps. My requirements? There had to be versions for both iPhone and Android. (While my requirement is that it has to be available on both of the main platforms, these reviews are for Android only, since I don’t have access to an iOS device)

I already reviewed EyeEm, a new social platform based out of Berlin for adults. I’ve continued using it- I like the filters and ease of use… though it does attach a location if you have GPS on, and that’s a little annoying.

Next up, the mainstay Flickr. Now, I used to put up all my photos on Flickr and had a pro account for years. Currently, they’re offering free users three months of a Pro account just for installing the mobile app and linking it to your account.

The good:

  • Flickr has a great community, which you can access from your computer and from your phone.
  • You have a lot of privacy settings, and even the ability to post how you want your photos to be shared (via Creative Commons settings, though that’s done on their website, not the app).
  • There are plenty of filters to choose from, and you can post to a wide variety of social networks (FB, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogger, Livejournal, and to email).

The bad:

  • The overall design of the app is a little clunky. While the opening screen puts the social stream up front and personal (with comments and contact requests), some of the features are buried. To share a photo in the Android app, you have to click on the camera button, which then asks which camera you want to us. In most apps, this prompt allows you to choose either a camera or to upload from a gallery. It’s only IN the next screen that you can click on an icon that vaguely looks like a stack of pictures to pick the photo you want.
  • When sharing a picture, the app doesn’t automatically pull through your caption for the picture. Instead, you’re prompted to post a secondary “message” to go with your social network posts.
  • If you’re a high volume photographer, you’re going to have to pay for Flickr Pro. With Flickr’s free account, you can upload 300 MB of photos per month, as well as two videos. But you’ll only be able to see the last 200 photos/videos in your photostream. It’s $24.95 for a year of Flickr Pro.

I really wanted this to be a great solution- and I only hope that the app gets some attention now that people have started to leave Instagram. But the price of the Pro account, and the design of the app makes me say that it isn’t an Instagram replacement right now.

If you have an app suggestion, let me know!

App Review: EyeEm

If you’ve read my post about Instagram and their new Terms of Service, I updated it. Just so you don’t have to click to another page, this is the latest:

Instagram blogged about the backlash, admitting they weren’t very clear in the way they wrote it (actually, they said that we just misinterpreted it because legal jargon is so tough). Ads will be coming to Instagram, but they won’t be selling your photos to be used in ads. And they’ve already removed the verbage that made it seem as though they were going to use your pictures and name in ads- very similar to Facebook’s social ads.

While I completely understand that Instagram needs to make money, this “admission” feels more like them simply trying to cover their asses. Because frankly, it isn’t that hard to say that they’re going to roll out ads and allow brands to show that you’ve liked pictures of theirs.

(Of course, they didn’t address the bit where they said they wouldn’t divulge which posts were ads at all- which frankly is a disappointment.)

Turns out I’m not the only one who felt like their ‘clarification’ wasn’t making things better. Pay attention, writers, the words you choose are very important.

Now- when Instagram made their announcement, I decided to evaluate some Instagram alternatives. The only requirements were that they had to be usable for both iOS and Android. (I’m not being compensated for any of this. Just sharing my own search for an Instagram replacement here)

First up, EyeEm. EyeEm is a social photo sharing app and site. Based out of Berlin, it has a pretty straight forward Terms of Use. Unlike Instagram, it’s meant for users 18 and up- since there might be some adult content shared.

There are lots of pretty filters, and a slew of border choices that you can access with a simple swipe of the finger (left and right to choose filters, up and down to choose borders). And unlike Instagram, you can post an entire picture or crop it if you like.

From there, you can tag it with a category for people to find it (or not) and with a location and a status and share it on your favorite social networks (you can post to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Foursquare).

I haven’t gotten to try out many of the social features- as of right now, only one of my friends from FB and Twitter are using it. (But check out the pictures I’ve posted so far!)

Pros: Easy to use, lots of features- and can post to any of the major sites that you’d want to share with.

Cons: Not much social activity yet.

My verdict: I like this one!

I’m going to give the Flickr app a go next- any other apps you think I should try?

New pants. And dinner out.

Last night, on the eve of TheBoy’s first day at his new job (which means, yes, today’s his first day), we went out to celebrate. And to shop.

You see, I’ve been after TheBoy to buy a new pair of pants for the last few months. For the most part, we don’t buy new clothes unless we need them (admittedly, I confuse need and want when it comes to boots). Earlier in the year, I bought a couple new pair of jeans because mine were stretched out. And it was time for him to do the same. Not only had his stretched out with normal wear, but he’d resumed his running regimen and eating better- and lost weight. So the pants were way too big. He had to wear a belt to keep them up, and hold them up while he chased after the kidlets. But he refused to buy new pants because they were still intact. (Honey, I’m not posting this to shame you, just to point out that you deserved the new pants because you’re awesome.)

So when he got the new job, we agreed that he’d need new pants before he started. As it turns out, from all that exercise, he’s back in the same size pants he wore when we first met. When he was 18. Go TheBoy!

He also bought a few new button down shirts (the casual kind). While he could get away with wearing his geek tees, he wanted to have something he could wear in case he needed to go out on a call that would seem a little more professional. And I have to say, I love the silhouette of the ones he got. They’re a bit slimmer than what used to be available, and he looks great in them.

We also bought him some new notebooks to take notes in, but bought some that looked a bit more adult and professional than the standard cheap ones.

From there, we went to Set´, our favorite upscale restaurant. Steakhouse fair with a latin twist. We first went there a couple years back, and this was our second trip in the last few months.

We started off with their crabcake, which is served in a lobster cream sauce and topped with a mango salsa. So good, we have to get our own. There’s no way we could split those bad boys. (I would post my pictures, but just go to their site where you can see well lit pics. Mine are dark and weird)

I ordered the braised short ribs, which are so tender they just fall apart the moment you touch it with a fork. It comes with a creamy polenta, and a cabernet reduction sauce. TheBoy ordered their fish special, which was a red snapper served with a risotto and fresh vegetables.

Usually we order a dessert, but we were too full to even attempt it.

Here’s the weird thing about their restaurant- I have cheated and had dairy there, without any sort of reaction like I had the other night. My only guess is that it has to do with the freshness and the quality of the ingredients. But they do work with food allergies (especially since most of their food is prepared fresh), I’ve had friends who mentioned it when they placed their reservation and had a great time out.

The only thing that bothered me this last trip was that the restaurant was pretty empty, and a couple people on the staff were loudly talking to a couple in the bar area. Very loudly. Oh well.

It’s certainly more expensive than our usual places ($9-$12 for appetizers, $19+ for entrees), but I’ve never had a bad meal there.

FAQ: Why don’t I talk about his job? While I’m willing to put myself out there, I don’t want my blogging to affect his career.

This will probably be all I mention about his new job, in fact. He’s working a day shift again, and this job won’t have the same sort of overtime/on call factor that the last one had.

[Review] The Colibri

This review is for a product that I was given in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts included are all mine!

I don’t do many reviews (certainly not sponsored ones), and when this one came into my inbox, I thought for awhile about whether or not I should say yes. How often does a girl get the chance to review a toy of, ahem, an adult nature? (It’s at this point I should probably suggest that my family just skip this post, though really, I’m not going to be graphic.) Obviously, my curiosity got the better of me…

I was given a Ladygasm Colibri to evaluate. As you can see, it comes in this lovely box, complete with its charging cord (which is just below the top layer in the box). That’s right- it has a rechargeable battery, which charges in an hour. It’s completely waterproof and like all their toys, uses medical grade silicone so it’s easy to clean (and latex-free for anyone with latex allergies).

The one thing I meant to do was include a coin for size reference. It’s not a very big toy- I have pretty small hands, and this fit perfectly (and comfortably in my hand).

There are four controls built in. The up and down arrows cycle through the modes (you also hold the up arrow on to turn it on, and hold the down button to turn it off). The left and right arrows adjust the intensity, and there are several cycles so that you can find just the right setting for you.

I will admit, because this particular toy is geared toward clitoral stimulation, it took me a couple tries to figure out how to best use it (since that isn’t usually what you find out on the market). But the Ladygasm Colibri was definitely worth the effort- it’s a stylish toy that certainly has enough options to suit anyone looking for an external toy! And if it isn’t, Ladygasm has a full line of toys designed for women, which based on the Colibri are extremely well made!

AppSmitten, a review

This is a sponsored post, in that I’m part of an affiliate program and do get a small payment if you sign up for their newsletter. However, all opinions stated are mine and mine alone.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to earn some money by promoting appSmitten- a service that sends app recommendations for your phone/tablet straight to your inbox. So I signed up!

The first email I received had a list of some of the top apps out there- a few that I already use.

But each email since then has had something unique, both in paid and free apps. They evaluate the thousands upon thousands of apps out there, and recommend the ones worth downloading. If you’re looking for new apps to help your productivity and keep you on time, I do recommend giving appSmitten a try!

Sign up for your appSmitten newsletter!


This week, Apple released Ping. It’s a music social network built into iTunes. Given the number of social networks out there, I knew plenty of people who wanted to know if it was even worth signing up for it and giving it a shot.

For those of you, I tried it out, and here are my thoughts.

What the heck is Ping, anyway?

Ping is a social network built into iTunes. You create a profile- show off 10 songs or albums that represent you, and let it show off the reviews you write on iTunes, the purchases you make, or even songs you like. You can follow friends and artists and comment on their updates. The artist profiles seem to integrate their Twitter accounts, but for everyone else- what shows up is based on how you use iTunes and the comments you leave.

Privacy and you

It asks you to use your name, but you can set your profile to three settings- public, private and leave me alone (well, that’s what I dubbed it). Essentially, you can have it so that everyone can see your actions, only those you approve can see your actions… or you can sorta play with Ping, but nobody can follow you.

My Thoughts

Ping seems like it has a lot of potential. But because they’re only concerned with what you do in the iTunes store- purchases, rating, etc… there’s not much to do. I just rated my Scott Pilgrim vs The World soundtrack, but it doesn’t show up on Ping. Unless I go into the iTunes store itself and start making notations there- it won’t show up. (Equally annoying, when you set up your profile, it chooses 10 tracks from those you’ve purchased as representative of your taste. You can set them yourself, but be forewarned, it’ll only let you pick from tracks on iTunes. So as of right now, you can’t show that you’re the #1 Beatles fan)

But it does let you comment on your friend’s profiles- on items they’ve purchased, commenting on their reviews.

However, there is one BIG problem. All you need to do to play around on Bing is have an iTunes account. All you need to get an iTunes account is an email address and password, you don’t even have to click an authorization link. So as of right now? It’s a spammers paradise. On nearly every public artist, there are tons of links for winning free iPads or iPhone 4′s.

If you’re looking for some place to check in now and then and see what your friends are buying, it’s great. If you want to follow along artists (keep in mind, there aren’t a bunch of artist profiles yet), I’d wait. Not just because of the limited selection of artists- but because of the spam issue.

To sum up? Neat idea, but it seems like the execution wasn’t really thought through.

A lovely weekend

It isn’t often that my husband gets weekends off. TheBoy works long hours in a demanding industry, so we cherish just about every second we have together.

Luckily, he had this weekend off. Saturday he slept, and Sunday we had planned on going to the Dodgers game. Only, it was hot and the thought of sitting in the sun for the duration of the game was sounding less and less appealing as time went on. So instead of the game, we decided to go a little more local and have some fun. Read More…

Scott Pilgrim vs The World – Go see it!

Scott Pilgrim vs The World is based on the epic graphic novels by Bryan O’Malley (@radiomaru). The graphic novels were set in 6 volumes, which yes, in my opinion qualifies it as an epic. Writing, drawing, inking and coloring them mostly by himself- that’s no small feat. (Plus, the movie is an epic of epic epicness)

Starring Michael Cera and directed by Edgar Wright, Scott Pilgrim has had a lot of hype in the comic community- and indeed, had a huge presence at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. The series was a fun hybrid of the hipster music scene, video game culture… it promised to be huge.

The only problem is that it hasn’t reached a major audience. So if you don’t count yourself as a gamer or comic lover… this review is for you.

Scott Pilgrim is a love story. It’s an action movie. It’s a video game come to live. It’s about music. It’s a comic book, visualized- with phones that say RING, head thumps that say THWACK, and split screens that flow like comic book panels.

A lot of people have said that it’s a movie only for geeks and those under 30. They’re wrong- elitists who see phrases like comic book and video game in press kits and immediately prepare themselves to find faults.

But at the core, it’s a movie about relationships. Friends that stick by you through everything, siblings that annoy, the ex who broke your heart, the person you date just to get through it all, and the love you find that changes everything. It’s about growing up. It’s about taking risks.

It’s a movie about Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), a 22 year old slacker and bass player for Sex Bob-Omb who lives with his gay best friend Wallace (Keiran Culkin). He meets the mysterious Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and instantly falls in love. Unfortunately, to win Ramona’s heart he has to fight her Seven Evil Exes and survive.

Sounds a little crazy, but it works. Why? The characters, despite their penchants for video game style fighting and fantastic dream sequences… well, they have soul. They seem real. Scott, despite being the hero and a pretty nice guy, is also a little bit of a jerk. Ramona, who is believable as the girl you’d fight seven exes to be with, isn’t so great herself. But it’s the flaws that sell it. So often, you read books or see movies with fantastic premises and characters that are lifted straight out of archetypes- wise old man, sweet ingenue, noble hero… Scott Pilgrim is filled with real people who happen to be able to do extraordinary things.

Admittedly, Scott Pilgrim didn’t do well at the box office. It might be because of all the advance showings they had for the movie, coupled with the fact that the trailers were designed to appeal to teens and gamers. It isn’t because it’s a bad movie- I would say that it’s definitely worth seeing, regardless of your age and history with game controllers. Show Hollywood that unique movies have their place at megaplexes. That movies like Scott Pilgrim are worth taking a chance on. Or that movies can build presence week after week, rather than simply vanishing.

Scott Pilgrim is out across the US at a theater near you. The soundtrack and score are available at stores and downloadable on iTunes and Amazon. The graphic novels (all six volumes) are available through Oni Press at bookstores.

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