Hi. Just bought an MES 30 from Walmart.com during their Black Friday sale and picked it up yesterday. This is model # 20070910 and goes up to 275*. I went ahead and did it's "seasoning" yesterday by running it at full temp for 3+ hours and adding wood chips. In the week I have been waiting, I have bought several different pieces of meats while waiting for it to come in. Wife put most in the freezer and since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I decided last night to pick up a couple of bone in pork shoulders that are about 4-5 pounds each and 1 rack of beef spare ribs. I decided to go with these since we will already have enough deep fried turkey and didn't want to burn ourselves out on poultry right off the bat. In the past week, I have bookmarked different sites and the more I read, the more confused I became. One thing I did learn is that I needed a good meat thermometer so I went ahead and ordered a Maverick ET-733 and have had it waiting. The wife went ahead and done the dry rubs on the shoulders and the ribs last night in preps for todays maiden voyage. We got about an inch of snow overnight, but I was determined to try this thing out today anyhow. It was also a chance to thank her for all the work she is doing today in prep for tomorrow's dinner. About an hour ago, I placed 1 of the probes into the largest pork shoulder and the other into the thickest part of the ribs. I put them all in the smoker and routed the probes thru the vent hole in the top and plugged them into the thermometer transmitter. For the sake of battery conservation, I decided to wait a couple hours before turning the thermometer on since I only have the batteries that shipped with it. When I put the meat in, it came straight from the fridge. I removed 2 racks and have the ribs on the top rack and the shoulders on the bottom. I set my temp for 240* and turned it on. The smoker controller was showing 32* internal, which I believe as we have snow and smoker is sitting on a covered porch. After starting the smoker, I put a mix of apple and hickory chips in the side and dumped them into the smoker. Within 30 minutes, the temp was up to 185 and smoke was coming from the vent. Just checked it again and found temp was at 240* setpoint and has been going for 1.5 hours. After reading around, my confusion stemmed from several things. First of all, to cook with water in pan or without. I chose without after reading some of the comments. Since this was my first smoke, I chose to put the meat directly on the racks and no foil has been used. I didn't "preheat" smoker due to it temp outside at freezing and I also wanted to put meat in before heating it up. This way, I could put my woodchips in when it was first turned on and they would start smoking sooner as heater would be going. I put the chips in dry as opposed to soaking them in water. I just reloaded the chips when I went out to check temp. I am confused by all the different temps mentioned. I have seen it mentioned that both beef and pork need to reach 145-165* to kill bacteria but I have seen different postings saying to bring the pork to 195-205 before calling it done. What about the temp on the beef spare ribs? Would I be wrong in just leaving everything alone now and not use any foil or anything to cover it? I just want the learning curve to be easy, but there is so much information, I am overwhelmed by it. Thanks in advance.