UPDATED: more pics, see below
Max (owner of Catalina) got some Hario hand grinders in and I bought one on the hopes that it would replace my Kitchen Aid ProLine for French press and Chemex brewing.
The Hario has ceramic conical burrs, a "drive shaft", a simple adjustment mechanism, and a crank... along with a glass bowl to catch the grounds and a plastic bowl for beans. One burr (large, outer) is fixed to the plastic bowl and the other (small, inner) is fixed to the shaft. The adjustment "dial" is just a nut on the shaft, really, which "screws" the shaft up and down, thereby moving the small burr closer or further away from the large burr.
I have mixed opinions on this thing, but I'll give you the punch line first: it's roughly as good as my Kitchen Aid for French press or drip grinds, and much better for espresso grinds. I'm not sure it competes with my MACAP espresso grinder, but it is impressive for fine grinds.
My mixed opinions come from the design of the shaft and the way the small burr moves. The shaft is only fixed to the "body" of the grinder in one place: the top. This means that the small burr (fixed to the end of the shaft) is free to float around away from a perfect center line. At the very fine end of the grind spectrum (espresso), this is almost non-existent because the burrs are so close together. The small burr just doesn't have any room to move laterally.
However, for coarse grinds, the burr has plenty of room to move, and it does. This means an inconsistent grind. You get some (not too many) very fine particles along with some big chunks. This is too bad, because the burrs are clearly very good, and a better shaft/body design would turn this from pretty good to fantastic (DIY project?).
However, the results are no worse (or not significantly) than my Kitchen Aid, which cost $200. The Hario costs a quarter of that.
Here is a coarse grind w/ the Hario:
And a slightly finer grind from the Kitchen Aid, for comparison:
And compared to the Kitchen Aid in size:
Bottom line, I like the Hario, but I think it could be significantly improved. It's competitive with my Kitchen Aid costing four times as much, and significantly better for finer grinds. I probably give a slight edge to the Kitchen Aid for French press grinds, but a definite edge to the Hario for espresso grinds.
And there's the "hand" part... expect to get a workout grinding enough coffee for 2 large cups of French press. :)
UPDATED WITH MORE PICS:
Handle and adjustment assembly:
Outer burr (bottom view):
Inner burr and shaft:
Bottom view up through shaft "housing":
Handle and adjuster disassembled:
[UPDATE: also read my updated post on the iPhone 3GS]
I spent the week in Silicon Valley for a bunch of meetings, and I've been disappointed with the voice quality of the iPhone (esp. recently), so I decided to carry both it and my E71. In addition, I now have my work email, contacts, calendar, and corporate directory on the E71. For a bit of history, I've been using the iPhone for more than a year, and haven't used the E71 seriously until now.
What follows are a bunch of rough categories and a "winner" in each, followed by thoughts and opinions.
Voice quality: E71, by far. This is the iPhone's primary achilles heel, the voice quality is brittle and irritating, to the point that I cannot listen to it for any length of time. Worse, people frequently have a hard time understanding me. The phone simply needs EQ and a mic sensitivity adjustment, preferably exposed to the user (in some idiot-proof way). In contrast, the E71 has probably the best voice quality of any mobile I've used (and I've used quite a few). At least on par with the best. I have no problem listening to the other party for significant lengths of time, and I have yet to encounter irritating sound, even from an iPhone on the other end.
Responsiveness: E71. iPhone 2.0 came with a lot of new features, but also what comes across as a fair bit of heft. Everything is slower, ranging from just a little in many instances to quite a lot in a few (the keyboard is VERY slow now, almost without exception). Even the "just a little slower" instances are significant, though, because of the nature of the UI. If you touch a button and can't feel a response, the way you know it worked is because it does what you told it immediately. Apple has broken that in iPhone 2.0 and thus the gorgeous UI feels sluggish and buggy. Again, the E71 is a marked contrast, being one of the most responsive phones I've used and by far the most responsive S60 Nokia I've ever seen.
Web: iPhone. The iPhone browser is beautiful, very easy to use, and its understanding of column layouts and zooming is excellent. Touch dragging, rubber banding, etc. all contribute to a fabulous user experience. The E71 browser is based around the same engine (though probably a little older), but without the touch UI it just isn't the same thing. Having to "fly" the cursor around just sucks.
Email: iPhone, by a little. iPhone's email UI is far superior to the E71 native or Mail for Exchange UIs. However, typing an email on the iPhone is less of a win, and I probably prefer the E71 there (tough choice). The E71's responsiveness is a win here, so iPhone wins by only a little.
Wi-Fi: iPhone. It just works. E71 has the bass-ackwards Access Point system which sucked five years ago and is now totally unacceptable. S60 should be ashamed. Having said that, the 3/3.5G connectivity on E71 is so good, I basically don't use Wi-Fi at all. One ubiquitous data pipe FTW!
Cellular/3G data: E71. 3/3.5G data is fast and responsive on the E71, and the general responsiveness of the device adds to that impression. I have the original iPhone, so I haven't spent a lot of time using the 3G version, but enough to say that I don't find it as reliable and responsive as the E71. Plus the sluggish iPhone UI detracts from the whole experience. Another thing I notice: I always have data on E71, when I may not even have signal on iPhone. Both are on AT&T.
Maps: E71, by far. Strange, huh? I love the iPhone Google Maps app, don't get me wrong, Touching and pinching and all. And Nokia Maps is a suck-fest to put it kindly. But, much to my surprise, Google Maps on the E71 is fantastic! The phone's GPS is extremely responsive and accurate and the Google Maps app ties into it perfectly. Zooming in and out is very fast (just hit 1 or 3) and much more usable while driving (did I say that?) than iPhone's. Perhaps because of the speedy 3G data, the search function seems blazing fast, and very accurate.
Home Screen: E71. It's customizable, with fast access to common features, email summary, broken out "recents" like voicemail, SMS, and missed calls, etc. iPhone is nice, but I get to things I need more quickly on E71.
Contacts: A tossup. iPhone's UI is prettier and easier to manage, by far. Adding contact info is very obvious. E71's UI is more bare-bones and editing contacts is somewhat painful. However, contact search is SO MUCH BETTER on E71. iPhone's search is dreadfully slow, mostly because it takes 5-10 seconds for the keyboard to function. E71's is immediate, and search is available full-time, you don't have to do anything for it to come up. MobileMe syncing is nice on iPhone, though. I have E71 syncing to my MacBook Pro and to Ovi (ovi.com), and it works fine, but it's not as "invisible" as MobileMe, for better or worse.
Calendar: E71, by a little. iPhone is prettier and easier to look at, but otherwise is somewhat sucky. I can create/find/edit meetings and reminders on E71 much more quickly. Defaults are better on E71 too. Again, MobileMe is nice on iPhone.
Typing: A tossup. I type faster on the iPhone, even though its keyboard isn't real. However, sometimes it takes so long for the keyboard to function that I would have been done already on the E71. E71 is fast and consistent, and then there is that thing of having real keys. So it's hard to pick a winner here. If iPhone was as responsive as the E71, it would win hands down.
Local connectivity: E71, by far. Bluetooth 2.0 w/ EDR and a pile of profiles. iPhone supports mono Bluetooth headsets and that's it (um, Apple?).
Tethering: E71, by far. iPhone doesn't tether. Thanks, Apple. E71's excellent 3/3.5G data speed makes this very attractive.
SMS iPhone. iPhone's chat-style SMS interface is truly brilliant. It's SO much better than the traditional one-message-at-a-time interface. MUCH better. Nokia, please copy this, right now. :)
Form factor: A tossup. iPhone is a great fit-in-your-pocket size, has a gorgeous screen, feels good to hold, etc. E71 fits even better, feels equally good to me (except for touching the screen of course, since you don't do that), but has a much smaller screen.
In-call features (e.g. mute): iPhone. Nokia loves to bury these, grrrrr. iPhone wins here. iPhone conferencing works well (if you can stand the voice quality to begin with). In-call keypad is nice, Nokia still keeps the in-call keypress backlog in a dial bubble, which is annoying.
Camera: E71. 3.2MP gives you a lot more blurry pixels than iPhone's 2.0. But the real win here is video, on both sides of the phone! iPhone 3G should've had video. Bleh. E71 wins. Video also means apps like Qik which is very cool IMO.
UPDATED: turns out you have to autofocus the camera manually! Press the '2' button and it will focus, THEN take your pic! Much less blurry!
Media: iPhone, by far. Ummm, ok the Nokia sucks at media. Really, really sucks. iPhone is the best iPod ever (really, not just b/c Steve says so). E71 is pathetic in this category, sorry. iPhone's screen and touch UI just make the difference even more glaring. No contest. iPhone also excels at displaying photos, even if it can't take a decent one on its own.
Applications: iPhone. The iPhone SDK is a joy, lots of good applications exist, they blow away the equivalents on S60 in most cases (Twitter client, for example). Some S60/E71 apps are outstanding (Google Maps), but most are not. The Apple/iTunes ecosystem is very good for applications.
Games: iPhone, by far. Yeah... the iPhone is a standout game platform. Accelerometers plus beautiful 2D plus beautiful 3D plus great SDK => lots of fun games, for cheap. Great game device.
VoIP: E71. iPhone doesn't have it, and won't have it, given the current SDK restrictions. No background apps => no listening for incoming SIP calls. E71 VoIP works well, once configured, but configuring it does suck quite a bit.
It's very hard for me to pick one. I love, almost adore, the iPhone. It has revolutionized the mobile industry. The UI is brilliant and easy. Many things just work. However, it has some very big warts, particularly since the 2.0 release. The #1 problem is voice quality... it's just terrible, worst I've ever heard on a mobile phone. A close second is the very sluggish UI, especially the keyboard. Many times it is nearly unusable, which is shocking considering the iPhone's bread and butter is usability. This is a new "feature" since 2.0, 1.x was much more responsive.
E71 is very fast and very utilitarian. I can get a lot done quickly once I know how. It has much better connectivity than iPhone (the lack of full Bluetooth 2.0 and tethering is ridiculous), it has video, it has a real keyboard (for better or worse), a great home screen, etc. Finally, the E71 is hands down the winner in the "just a phone" category. Contact searching is very fast, voice quality is excellent.
So here's what I want: toss the iPhone, get an iPod touch, use Bluetooth to the E71 to connect anywhere. Oh wait, Apple doesn't do that on iPod touch. GRRRRRR. Thanks, Apple.
I guess if pressed, I would have to take the E71 over the iPhone, as a phone, because it does the basics really well, and I can stand to talk on it for hours. I can sync it, search my contacts very quickly, etc. Texting is more of a chore, but the keyboard is nice, so the actual typing part is good. Everything is anywhere from a little to a lot uglier, but it really works, and the thing is so very responsive. But there's no chance there wouldn't be a least an iPod touch in my other pocket. :) The combo of the two (iPhone and E71) is hard to beat. I basically treat the iPhone as a touch with data.
My last conclusion: Apple must fix their OS. The iPhone would've won out in many categories if it wasn't sluggish and unreliable, especially where the keyboard is concerned. Very frustrating. Apple, fix your phone.
UPDATED: my really last conclusion, I meant to say this in the original post - E71 is definitely more oriented towards phone/mobility geeks than towards the average "just make it work" user. Advanced users will make use of the additional features and will appreciate the snappy UI, and will be better able to overlook or work with the cumbersome S60 OS.
My favorite coffee shop, Catalina Coffee, has been under something of an unintended PR attack (mostly from ignorant pile-on comments to Sean's [by definition] one-sided account). The lesson here: nothing is as one-sided or as simple as it might seem. The other lesson: people are asymptotic to fickle.
I was glad to see Max respond, and I think his response was right on the money. I can't say I know Max well, but I've spent enough time in Catalina and in talking to him that I think I know him well enough to at least give him the benefit of the doubt on something like this. It's unfortunate that people are so willing to damage someone's reputation and business without any balanced information and with no context whatsoever.
I can't fault Sean for blogging about the issue, I've definitely done that myself from time to time. But since the issue here was really about sensitivity to people's needs after Ike, why are commenters so willing to dispense with that sensitivity at the first opportunity? Even if Sean's account was impartial, is it better to damage a local business doing great things, or to let it go and be sensitive to the context and the post-hurricane situation?
Seems like we could apply our great demands for "customer" sensitivity a little more broadly, rather than being content with hypocrisy. Nokia (my employer) likes to point out that even as individuals we have "customers", like our peers, our boss, etc. If you want great customer service, try treating those serving you as your customers.
Anyway... enough of that... I'm drinking Max's El Salvador Peaberry (brewed in the Chemex) this morning and it's fantastic. I'm excited about his roasting, this one seems right on the money. Thanks to Max for his efforts post-Ike, and for his continued commitment to quality coffee and customer service.
<whine>Can't we all just get along?</whine> :)
...or "How NOT To Do Customer Service".
UPDATED! See below.
Last week was an insane week on any number of fronts, but the most persistent and infuriating experience continues unabated: dealing with the Sugar Land, Texas Parks and Recreation department. I haven't ever encountered people ostensibly in the business of serving their community who are so completely unwilling to admit a mistake and deal with it (not to mention the obvious incompetence of one of their staff, which resulted in said mistake).
So here's the story... our air conditioning was out last week, so we could not have our 4-year-old's birthday party at the house on Sat as we had planned to. So we decided to rent the room at the Lost Creek Center... it's at a nice park and close to our house. We called the Parks and Rec office and they put a courtesy hold on the room for us. We had intended to get to the office before leaving town on Thursday to pick up the key, but we forgot in the rush to get on the road.
My wife's mom is also a local resident (and lives very close to Lost Creek Park), so we asked her to go sign the contract and get the key and all in her name, since we wouldn't be back in town until Friday evening after the office would be closed. No problem.
On Friday, my mother-in-law goes to the Parks and Rec office to sign the contract and pick up the key. After waiting for them to find someone to help her, Pat (executive secretary? We can't quite tell from her signature) arrives on the scene. She tells mom (FYI "mom" hereafter refers to my mother-in-law) that you can't put a hold on a room, so she's wrong. Mom insists that no, in fact, they did put a hold on it on the phone. Pat says no, you can't do that, we don't do that. Pat says/implies that Mom is both stupid and speaking the wrong words.
Mom is upset, but asks if Pat can check to see if the room is reserved. Pat checks, says no, it isn't. Mom asks to reserve it then. Pat seems to know how to do this, so things move forward. Pat produces contract to sign. Mom notices time is wrong, asks Pat to correct it. Pat says (quote) "but it'll cost you more money". Mom says that's ok, we want the room from 1:30 to 4:30 as we reserved. Pat says "but it'll cost you more money". Lather, rinse, repeat.
Pat never does fix the contract, Mom finally gives up trying. Pat never goes over the contract in detail with Mom. Mom cuts her losses, signs the contract, and leaves.
But wait, there's more! A LOT more.
We get key from Mom, we show up at 1:30 on Saturday. The key doesn't work. It's the wrong key. We call Parks and Rec, they send a gentleman out to open the room for us (thankfully), so finally at 2 we're in the room (the party starts at... yes, 2). Oh, but wait, the closet is locked and all the tables that come with the room are inside. We call Parks and Rec, they send the same guy back, who unlocks closet. It's now 2:15 at least, we finally have the tables necessary to set up for the party that guests are now at that was to start 15 minutes prior, that we needed to set up for 45 minutes prior.
We have the party, disjointed though it was (instead of spending time with guests, we're still setting up). The party is good. Fast forward to my wife's trip to the Parks and Rec dept to return the wrong key...
My wife explains what happened. The staff are shocked and apologetic. But then they look it up and say that no, in fact, your mom requested the wrong place. My wife calls her mom, who details the whole incident at length. My wife tells Parks staff that no, in fact, she did request Lost Creek Center, and that the mistake is obviously the fault of the Parks dept because they had someone so incompetent in the office that they didn't even know about the whole courtesy hold process, and couldn't find it even when she looked. Not to mention that Mom has a detailed account of requesting Lost Creek Center.
Someone else (not Pat) at Parks looks up the hold/reservation... sure enough, there it is. Where was Pat looking when she looked it up? Who knows, but clearly in the WRONG place.
Parks staff member is mystified as to how it could still be on the computer, but declares that clearly Mom requested the wrong place when she reserved it, and it isn't their fault.
Narrator's interlude: this is where they COULD have diffused the entire thing and assumed THEY were at fault, out of simple common CUSTOMER SERVICE interest. But no, they don't.
So here it stands:
Now let me see if I can figure out who is at fault here. I dunno, it's pretty difficult... gross incompetence, rudeness, and dishonesty on one side vs. failing to notice one of Pat's many errors during a ridiculous discussion of one of her other many errors on the other side. Hrmmm... I bet even Pat could figure this one out. Oh wait, I guess not.
OR MAYBE IT DOESN'T F-ING MATTER BECAUSE YOU PEOPLE ARE IN THE BUSINESS OF SERVING A COMMUNITY AND YOU SHOULD BE HORROR-STRICKEN THAT YOU ALMOST RUINED A 4-YEAR-OLD'S BIRTHDAY!!!!!! HELLO?!
(to be continued, Mom is going to talk to them in person today, and if necessary I will be calling more senior city officials... I don't even care about the money, though we'd like one of our rental hours back, now it's a matter of principle)
UPDATE: Mom went to speak to them, and ended up speaking to Pat (Patty?) again. She made up a completely new story that she told Mom that Lost Creek was unavailable (!!). Obviously this is a flat-out lie, since she a) couldn't find any hold on Lost Creek Center and b) said no such thing could be done in the first place (!!!!). So Mom and Patty go round and round and finally Mom says "I don't like being called a liar", to which Patty says "oh, no, I'm not saying that..." to which Mom says "well you say that everything I'm saying is totally wrong, that would make me a liar".
So Patty goes to speak with her manager, and I would LOVE to know what that conversation entailed, because she comes back very conciliatory and sweet, and offers to refund us for one hour plus the extra cost because she booked the wrong room. Mom says thank you and leaves.
I'm dying to know what was said between Patty and the manager (who never appeared). But oh well, at least the issue is resolved, though now I'm tempted to want an apology in writing... but I guess I'll leave it be.
This is my second post on iPhone 2.0, because the first was after not having used it for much time.
So read the first post first, as this is the "yeah, but..." post.
It's buggy. REALLY buggy. And VERY slow after having been on for a while (a while meaning a couple of hours, since I have to recharge about twice a day if I actually use it for anything).
As mentioned, battery life is not just bad, it's atrocious. Most days I need to FULLY charge TWICE. And I'm not using it THAT much. The battery life is so bad that it really negates the benefit of all these cool apps... and since in every other way 2.0 is a significant usability downgrade, there really is nothing good to say about 2.0 on the whole. It sucks.
So back to the buggy part... my iPhone has spontaneously rebooted more times in the past 2 weeks than in the entire year of 1.0. Some apps work all the time, but most only launch some of the time. Super Monkey Ball launches maybe 50% of the time (it's the worst). No errors, no explanations, no diagnostics, nothing.
So the 2.0 UI is much slower than 1.0, to the point that all of the sweet usability is gone. Sweet finger scrolling? Nope... slow and jittery. Touch interface? Nope... takes so long to react that I end up thinking I flubbed it, and then it gets all my touch events at once. The applications are very cool, except using them drains the battery at an astonishing rate (and I'm not talking games here). Oh and they're only cool when they don't crash at launch. And then there are the reboots.
Since I write software for a living, and have for a long time, I know this software. This is software that just barely worked one time when they declared "ship it". This is software put out on a release date whether it's ready or not (and it's not, not even close). Bad Apple!
Of course, then there are the NDA issues for developers. Bad Apple!
The verdict: pretty decent! The latte wasn't great, but it wasn't offensive and could definitely be enjoyed. Overall a little weak on the espresso, and fairly standard (but not incredibly overheated) milk. Better than many I've had, not as good as mine at home.
I would definitely go back if I was looking to get out of the house for some coffee when Catalina is closed.
Friday evening I was too late to make it to Catalina (they have a mostly day crowd, so close at 9pm), so I decided to give Inversion a go, since I'd heard good things.
Now, I judge coffee shops by their lattes. A passable latte requires some amount of training, care, and craft. If a coffee shop doesn't make a decent latte, they are demonstrating a lack in all three of those departments, at very least.
So the verdict on Inversion: not good. One of the worst lattes I've had, in fact. The milk was WAY too hot, and the espresso had any number of defects, beginning with being watery and bitter. Very disappointing, and really very unfortunate. It's just not that hard to make a decent latte... not a great one, but a decent one. You need to be able to pull a decent shot of espresso. You need clean equipment. You need to understand what you're doing to the milk, and what happens when it gets too hot (i.e. much above 155°). And you need to care.
So I stick to my current belief that Catalina is the only good espresso house in Houston. I've yet to find another (but I'm trying to slowly give the others a fair evaluation).
Iron Man was awesome! Great story, great technology, very funny, etc. If you go see it, STAY THROUGH THE CREDITS.
So I bought an airline ticket for a friend today, for him to fly today. I found a fare on cheaptickets for $295 on Delta, but cheaptickets couldn't book it because it was same day (I dunno)... they indicated that I needed to call Delta. I'd also found a Southwest flight for a bit more ($349).
So I call Delta. After wading through the voice-recognition interrogation, I ended up with an agent. The agent sounded as if she was reciting some phrases, but OK, whatever.
So she says the best fare is $481. HA. I say I'm not paying that much, and give her the details on the fare I found, which she fails to find... but while she is failing to find it, she offers me several "deals" that I would certainly be interested in, such as a credit card and a vacation getaway. After it's clear this is going nowhere, I tell her thanks but I'm not interested. I had to hang up on her as she was still going on about the deals.
Then I call Southwest. No voice-recognition, just a queue, and a person answers after maybe 20 seconds. Very friendly, immediately understood what I wanted and had the flights up. She suggested another flight that left later, but would arrive sooner due to delays on the other itenerary. I booked that flight, and that was it.
WHAT a contrast. Customer service people, are you listening? Employ people that are friendly and well-spoken and genuinely interested in customer service. It goes a long way.