Inside the Loop

Perspectives on food, travel & the miscellaneous

January 26, 2006

Top Five Things In...Chicago: January

So I was in Chicago the past few days for work, and it was my first trip in the Second City with snow & ice. It was not too cold, but the wind was the worst!

1. Pat's Pizza: originally located on N. Sheffield for over 50 years, the family decided to move to a building on N. Lincoln Ave.; the thin crust pizza is good, but the pasta is better; I recommend the gnocchi

2. Mr. Beef: if you want a legitimate Italian beef sandwich, go to this small restaurant in the River North area; I was the only person that did not work at a construction site placing an order; they also have hotdogs, burgers, and chicken sandwiches.

3. Delilah's Bar: this small bar on N. Lincoln (just a few blocks north of Pat's) is a what a dive & a punk rock place look like; local artists have their works displayed along with some "adult" films on the TV....definitely not your sports hangout! The best feature is the daily specials board. My favorite night is Friday: $2 Maker's Mark! Delilah's also claims to have 200+ and numerous bourbons.

4. The Bourgeois Pig Cafe: I was a bit confused by the title, but this coffee shop (actually, it serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and tea snacks) appeared to be a crowd favorite for the large population of DePaul University students. I had a chai tea latte that I must admit is better than Starbucks. The cafe is located on Fullerton near the intersection of Halstead & Lincoln.

5. Willows Hotel: due to the fact that all hotels in the Loop were booked (thanks convention attendees), this quaint hotel in Lincoln Park was surprisingly nice. I would consider staying there in the future. Its a four story building on a street called W. Surf about 4-5 blocks from the Diversey el. Their elevator is the kind with a cage & you have to "call" it to your floor. They also serve a complimentary breakfast w/a newspaper and coffee & cookies at night.

Bonus: the WC (a.k.a Wiener's Circle): great char-dogs, cheeseburgers, & fries with a side of a-t-t-i-t-u-d-e by the kitchen staff; my idea of a fun Friday night: a long stay at Delilah's followed by a Chicago dog at the WC. And it has to be after 1.00 a.m.

January 23, 2006

My Life Line is in Trouble

From The New York Times

Supreme Court Won't Hear BlackBerry Appeal

Published: January 23, 2006

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear an appeal from the maker of the BlackBerry in the long-running battle over patents for the wildly popular, handheld wireless e-mail device.

The high court's refusal to hear Canada-based Research In Motion Ltd.'s appeal means that a trial judge in Richmond, Va., could impose an injunction against the company and block BlackBerry use among many of its owners in the United States.

The justices had been asked to decide on whether U.S. patent law is technologically out of date in the age of the Internet and the global marketplace.

At issue was how U.S. law applies to technology that is used in a foreign country and allegedly infringes on the intellectual property rights of a patent-holder in the United States.

The justices were asked to decide whether Research In Motion can be held liable for patent infringement when its main relay station for e-mail and data transmission is located in Waterloo, Ontario, outside U.S. borders.

RIM was challenging a ruling by a federal appeals court that found that the company had infringed on the patents held by NTP Inc., a tiny northern Virginia patent-holding firm, because its customers use the BlackBerry inside U.S. borders. The panel said it did not matter where the relay station is located.

Since its introduction in 1999, the BlackBerry has revolutionized communications, allowing business travelers and government employees to send and receive e-mail outside their offices and away from their stationery computers.

The BlackBerry almost instantaneously transmits data through radio frequency technology that Thomas Campana Jr., an engineer, says he developed in 1990, long before the Internet became an integral part of American life.

The dispute not only has resonated with BlackBerry users who worry that their lifeline to their offices could be severed. The U.S. and Canadian governments also are concerned, as is
Intel Corp., the world's largest semiconductor manufacturer.

U.S. officials worry about the loss of BlackBerry use for law enforcement and health workers in a crisis, while the Canadian government is concerned that research and development in other industries will be stifled if RIM loses on all fronts.

In a filing with the Supreme Court, Intel's lawyers said the company is torn. As an investor of billions of dollars into research and development, the company is among the nation's leaders in obtaining patents and wants to protect itself against infringement.

At the same time, Intel also is frequently accused of infringement and wants clearer rules that protect it from small patent-holding companies that have little infrastructure and produce no products.

Attorney Herbert L. Fenster, who represents RIM, said the company is fighting the injunction. But he said an injunction would not end BlackBerry use among at least 1 million of its 3 million users in the United States.

Fenster said he believes federal law prohibits U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer from cutting off BlackBerry service to federal, state and local government users and others who rely on the devices to communicate during a public emergency.

Spencer has set a Feb. 1 deadline for filings on the injunction issue.

The legal fight began in 2001, when NTP sued RIM for infringement. The next year, a jury in Richmond decided that RIM had infringed on patents held by NTP, awarding the company 5.7 percent of U.S. BlackBerry sales. Spencer later increased that rate to 8.55 percent. At last count, the tally of damages and fees had exceeded $200 million and it continues to grow.
Last year, attempts to resolve the case fell apart when Spencer disapproved a settlement in which RIM would have paid $450 million to NTP.

The case is RIM v. NTP, 05-763.

January 22, 2006

Local Band to Support: The Central Standards

Last night I went to the local Borders Bookstore to check out a local band called The Central Standards. Their songs are all original with smart lyrics and hip outfits. Their sound reminds me of They Might Be Giants with a bit of Barenaked Ladies.

Here is a review in Friday's Commercial Appeal

January 18, 2006

Sorry its been so long...

A co-worker of mine is developing a book club based on favorite high school books. Feel free to post your top three favorites to add to the list. Hopefully, this club will kick into high gear this summer.

On another note, I participated in a training class today offered by my employer. The subject was "corporate grammar". Did you know that the current trend in punctuation is to have only one space after a period....I was shocked...after all these years of double spacing!

I realize that what I just typed probably makes me a dork. :)

January 3, 2006

Viva Italia

Happy 2006!

I am excited about my first international trip and busy making plans to visit the great country of Italy. Since this is a vacation, I plan to eat, drink, shop, and take as many pictures of the sights as possible.

Places I plan to visit: Rome, Florence, Venice (before it sinks), Cinque Terre, and Siena; might throw in a day trip to Pisa to lean.

This week's to-do-list: start learning some of the language