Happy Halloweenie From Microsoft

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Recently Microsoft released a new beta version of Internet Explorer for Windows 7.  This new version is version 11 and during this Halloween week, it is the perfect time to review it.


After previously installing and uninstalling version 10 because it didn’t work with sites like Facebook. I decided to see if 11 would be better.


This would be mistake # 1.  There is no official webpage for it except for a download page to announce it as “preview release candidate”.  Unfortunately, this candidate should get the boot.


Installing this update seemed to take forever as the little wait symbol churned for about 15 minutes while it installed itself after the initial reboot.  After I gained control back of my machine, I launched the browser only to find out that the same problems that existed with 10 still existed with 11.


I decided to launch Windows Update to see if this program had a patch and low and behold, it had a cumulative patch.  Of course, this patch REALLY should have been installed at the initial installation and not be an afterthought.


After installing this update and waiting for what seemed to be yet another eternity, I launched the browser only to crash without even loading a single page.  Then I tried it again.  Same result.  Then I tried it a third time and it happened yet again.


So once again, I uninstalled another useless web browser from Microsoft.  However, this time when I went back to my working version 9, it too failed and crashed by refusing to load some pages properly.


So then I decided to uninstall version 9 and revert back to the last functioning version 8.  It seems to handle all the websites pretty well without crashing despite being significantly slower than either Firefox or Google Chrome.


I do NOT recommend anybody download Internet Explorer 11 preview version at all.  It is not ready for prime time or any time for that matter.  I think I will stick with version 8 for a while.


My score:  0


Summary:  Microsoft’s latest attempt at a browser fails with not loading at all and crashing continuously.  Don’t even bother trying this one unless you like installing and uninstalling useless software.



The Last Meal I Never Had

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Hilltop Steakhouse

Hilltop Steakhouse (Photo credit: Marissa Babin)

Please Note:  This week’s special post will appear in all my blogs.


Back when I was younger in the 1970’s, our family would make the 2 ½ hour trip to Route 1 in Saugus Massachusetts to have lunch at the Hilltop Steakhouse Restaurant.  You never could miss this place.  It had fiberglass cows out front in a fenced in yard and a giant cactus sign out front announcing the restaurant’s name.


As the years wore on, we made fewer trips to the place as the lines usually were at least a 2 hour wait to be served.  One time the wait would have been nearly 3 hours so we decided not to stay and wait.  However, every time we did stay to have a meal we were never disappointed.


We had not gone to the restaurant in the last 10 years because nobody had the time to make the trip and waiting would be an all-day event.  When initially we heard that the place was closing down at the end of October, we decided to make a date to make that one last trek to the iconic restaurant for that one final (hopefully enjoyable, but sad) meal.


So this last Tuesday, we decided to make that drive from southern Maine to Saugus Massachusetts.  As we got closer to our destination, the anticipation of that last meal grew.


Then it happened.


We rounded up the hill on Route 1 and saw the giant cactus only to see the smaller sign before the large one saying “Open Until Oct. 20”.




The local newspaper stated that the place was to be open until the 29th.  Imagine our disappointment when we found the building abandoned with “Closed – NO TRESPASSING”  on all the windows.


Sadly, the cows were gone but the fence was still there.  For the first time for use, the parking lot was completely void of any vehicles at all.  So we left the empty parking lot and drove down the road a short distance to turn around and start that long journey back home.


Now, of course, I could have checked the restaurant’s website to tell that the place had closed.  Unfortunately, with the exception of an update to the butcher shop specials, this site has not been updated since 2008.  No mention of the closure could be found on the site anywhere.  I did not bother doing a search for the company as I expected the place to be opened until the end of the month as promised.


So in the end, no meal for me or our family.  But what happened to this company that always was very busy became a victim, according to the company, of a bad economy and a “dramatic drop” in customers based on competition from other places on the Route 1 highway.


However, this confuses me as many of the businesses on the nearby area were either crappy places, places long abandoned, or empty plots of land with new construction on them.  It makes me wonder if this place was sold out to some developer who wants to use it for something else.


This same sort of thing happened a few years ago when Miller’s restaurant in Bangor Maine was closed because the temporary home of Hollywood Slots wanted the location because it was across the street from the future location that they was building.  This also was a great restaurant of a buffet-style as opposed to a steakhouse variety.  A sports bar has since opened in the location after the casino moved out.


Of course, we didn’t know about that closing until we arrived there and found it closed.  It was during the in-between time when the restaurant had closed and the casino had moved in.  It was yet another disappoint that we had over the years for the “they aren’t there anymore” syndrome.


Yes, it was sad that I didn’t enjoy one last beef meal at the steakhouse, but never was unexpected given our luck over the years.  At least we have the internet to remind us of the pictures of what was one of the best meals ever had.


My score:  Incomplete


Summary:  If you didn’t make it before the closing like I did, then a great meal was missed.  If only anyplace, anywhere at all, could compete to what this place had to offer than I would say I would try it.  Goodbye cows.  So long cactus sign.  We hardly knew you.

Saturday Night Dies Hard

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For the second week in a row, I decided to watch Saturday Night Live.  Unfortunately, it was the worst 1 ½ hours I have spent in a long time.


I didn’t watch this episode for seeing Bruce Willis fumble around unfunny skits, I tuned into seeing Katy Perry perform her latest hit “Roar”.  Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed with that, but I wish I could say the rest of the show could have equaled what Katy did.  Compared to Miley Cyrus last week, Katy’s performances on the show were much more expansive and she was much less dressed than Miley was the week before.  However, Katy stole the show from Bruce.  She really should have done this show without him because she was nowhere to be found in any of the sketches as far as I could tell.


The only funny sketch in this episode was the “Boy Dance” bit.  Beyond that nothing was really funny except the opening sketch involving Bruce being an astronaut trapped by NASA government shutdown.  A second astronaut skit was not only not funny, but was simply dull as was much of this episode.


It seems to me that SNL is losing its mojo.  The skits aren’t funny even though they have funny people on the show and talented singers which can and could also act as well.  So why is this show failing so much?


I think it is that the cast just hasn’t gelled together.  Add to this some very poor writing and it all spells disaster.  Can this show be saved?  While it is still early in the season, it is not known yet who future guests will be, but I suggest that scripts be written to fit the person on the show instead of generic skits that just fail.


This week Katy was a winner and Bruce died hard on Saturday night.  Sounds like a great movie sequel to me.  Or not.


My score:  1 (Bruce Willis) / 8 (Katy Perry)


Summary:  Girl singers rule!  Unfortunately, Bruce was not funny, which stands to understand why he hasn’t hosted in over 20 years.  I saw what could be “Weekend at Bernie’s III:  The Die Hard Edition”.  It really was that bad.


Miley Cyrus on Saturday Night Live: The Second Coming

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Right up front let me say that I am not a regular viewer of Saturday Night Live (SNL).  The last full episode I watched was when Betty White hosted a couple of years ago.  I am just not interested in the show.


With that said, I was interested in seeing what media mess Miley Cyrus would do on the show.  In her opening monologue, she stated that “Hannah Montana was murdered”.  Yes, that was true and she was the murderer killing the show’s any chances of getting any repeat play on Disney Channel.


The opening skit before this monologue featured current Miley talking to “old Miley”.  While this skit was sort of funny, it just proves just how bad Miley has gone out of control lately.


After the monologue, Miley was in a skit parodying the government shutdown while portraying Michele Bachmann against a John Boehner lookalike.  This was again sort of funny but was also stomach churning at the same time.


The rest of the sketches in the remainder of the show were not even remotely funny and highly forgettable.  There was not a bit of a controversy brought up in any of the sketches which made the show look very tame.  Contrast this to Ms. White’s appearance which had some very entertaining skits and one can easily tell that this episode had many half-cooked skits that just didn’t work at all.


However, if one was looking for controversy in her musical performances that too would be a big disappointment as well.  The musical performances were done very well with a much-clothed Miley in top form unlike some highly questionable pictures of her lately that had some nudity in them.  Two good performances that showed she has talent even when dressed.


Overall, this show was a mixed bag.  The performances were very good while the skits not so much.  Maybe this show was hurt by starting a half hour late (on the east coast due to football), but according to ratings it won its time slot.


It should be interesting to point out that Miley is now on RCA Records, the same record company that another controversial artist was on.  His name was Elvis.  Maybe Miley is inspiring to be the next Elvis.  She certainly has the skin showing thing down for certain.


My Score:  8 (for musical performance), 5 (for sketches), 6 (overall score)


Summary:  A late start to a not-so funny appearance of Miley.  Maybe a third time will be the charm.  This was certainly a sophomore slump.



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