Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Burgled!

Remember this happy face from your childhood? Well unfortunately all that has been ruined now after I actually got burgled in real life. I got to say, from a broader perspective, it has been a very interesting past few years living down here and having experienced so many odd things that goes in the folder of 'life experiences that you don't ever want to go through again' but damn...it sure does change your outlook on things.

The last time I was robbed was when I was a kid on a summer "activity" camp in Cali and some fucker stole $14 or so out of my glass jar. I recall I was a dumbass and marketed the fact that I was ballin' but still...my money.

In real life I've lived in many places...some shady...others less so, but a few weeks ago the front door to my house got kicked in and the interior was burglarized. I live in a newer, supposedly good neighborhood that has 24/7 wandering security, so WTF? I never got jacked in Tucson and that was fucking Tucson...near Stone...remember that street? Fucking Vegas man...nothing makes sense here. Anyway, the following are some lessons learned. I'm still not sure what to make of everything, but hopefully some of this information will help someone out.
  • So the baddie's entry way was the main front door. Did you know how flimsy an average door is? Seriously...it's not directly connected to some huge-ass piece of wood like I would've thought. It's actually connected to a thing called a "door jam" which is a friggin' sliver of wood, not a 4x4. All it really takes is a few strong kicks and it's game over, even with the deadbolt.
  • Next, did you know that they don't use huge-ass screws for normal house builds on the door? In order to reinforce your door you should get this door armor contraption which is a $70 device from Home Depot or Amazon. It's various long pieces of metal that connects to the side of the doorway and is then screwed in using like 5 inch honkers. These screws will actually go into the real wood part and make it super harder to get through. Not sure why all doors aren't built like this.
  • Bad peeps can break into your house anytime, anywhere, so like a paranoid person would say, you're always vulnerable. The fucktard who did me in came through when we were at work. So really...all it would've taken was me taking a sick day or me having to do some errand and stopping by the house and I would've been face to face with some intruder in my hallway. What would I have done then? I'm going to re-plan on repurchasing an arsenal that's what. Hell, I'll probably get a wakizashi and a buckler while I'm at it.
  • Cops don't give a fuck. After it happened we just sat at home not touching anything because we thought they were going to call in the cavalry with a CSI van to take fingerprints and pictures. I was picturing a team of 3-5 peeps with gloves, lots of gear, a blacklight, sniffing doggy, and everything. No, that not what they sent. After three "Where is the police?" calls to 311 and 6 hours later, a rookie popo appeared, took out his little notebook, and started writing down details of what happened. Then he took some pics of the doorframe with an iPad, gave me a printout copy, and told me to go down to HQ to get an official report in a few days for my records. He said I probably wouldn't be contacted again because it's too low of a priority and I would never get my shit back.
  • So right here was a life-changing moment. Some fucker decides to break into my house and take my shit and the cops don't do anything...no investigation, no asking questions, nothing. Someone else gets richer from stealing my goods and nothing happens to him/her. WTF. I know that the world and life in general is not fair, but really...I'm sure if I was home and I maimed the intruder, I would somehow be responsible and 'then' a cop would probably show up to give me shit for it. All that makes no sense, but really, you should know that you're really on your own when push comes to shove. Cops have priorities and if you need help, they may not come. What would happen if we were home and we scared away some intruder? Would they still give us the same runaround? "You know you can just go down to HQ and fill out a police report and say it was a home invasion." Do they only care when someone gets injured or whacked? I really wonder where the priorities of law enforcement are. To me it's seems like lazy investigation...this is important shit!
  • Neighbors don't give a fuck. So after it happened I wandered around to do my own investigation. I tried to see if anyone else had cameras and a few actually did. One neighbor has a doorbell camera that should've recorded stuff as long as they had that area labeled for motion. It took a few days to get a hold of the guy, but then when I inquired about the video when I was face-to-face, he just nonchalantly said there wasn't anything. WTF! Give me something...anything and I'll peruse through the data like a cartoon sluth dog with a monocle. Ironically I bought a similar "Ring" doorbell camera the next day and man, that thing records clips like crazy. Either his camera model sucks, he has very bad motion areas specified, or he was lazy and didn't want help. Either way, I had no data that just pisses me off even more because I know there is information out there...
  • Insurance. I'm still working with my homeowner's insurance company to get things sorted, but my initial payment was fair. We'll see if they come through with the replacement costs. In a nutshell I would recommend everyone to review their policy with a person on the phone to answer any questions. We got jacked on the jewelry and I'm sure they have other subcategories that have maximums like firearms or computer/electronic equipment. Now my rates will go up for like 5 years, so yeah that will blow.
  • Get a dog, alarms, and a camera system. I've been madly shopping for 2 of the 3. No woggy for me sadly :-( But yeah more reviews will be incoming after I get various systems in place. The cameras are for piece of mind (Cell phone push alerts) and the alarm is to make an annoying noise to hopefully scare off any intruders vs them taking their sweet time wandering around the house. The alarm systems can call the cops, and all but again, look above on my thoughts on that. Fucking 6-hour response time...
  • In terms of what was lost, just know that you should secure what can't be replaced or would be super hard to. Yeah I went and got a grandma-era safe deposit box the very next day. In order to rebuild your identity you need your birth certificate, passport, SS card, other special documents, and all your digital files/passwords. Because of this I would recommend everyone Bitlocker your primary C drive on your computer/laptop. This way if it ever gets nabbed, the HDD is totally locked down. No stripping it out to access...your data is protected.
So yeah that has been my wonderful last month. Ironically the day it happened I got my teeth cleaned at the dentist and ya know what? Ever since then my jaw has hurt on one side and I think I've been grinding my teeth a lot more. I'm sure the experience inadvertently jacked with my psyche in some invisible way. People suck, Vegas sucks, and an unknown construction worker who was teamed in building the house across from mine also sucks since I'm sure it was one of them. The timing of having my house cased, them working on the house every morning and afternoon for the last 3 months, then the opposing house being finished just weeks ago was way too fishy to be a timing coincidence.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Lost City of Z (Drama 2016)

Damn this movie was slow AF. If you've ever watched The Thin Red Line, then you're in the same ballpark. Odd, artsy, and slow.

I expected more from the film since the legend of Col. Fawcett is something I researched at one point in my life. Interesting treasure-hunting story, somewhat like the Money Pit, but even more old school going back to the days of the Conquistadors.

This film was straight up boring. Not sure what else they could've done but maybe they could've had a different angle to the plot or something. No bueno.
Rating - D

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Ghost in the Shell (Sci-Fi Action 2017)

Not saying Scarlett Johansson is a bad actress or nothin', but she really does only play one role in all of her films. Even if you re-watch Lost in Translation and take a look at all of the scenes with her in it, all she does is sit there with that "staring at nothing" face and when she talks she tries to be all serious. It's just like her Black Widow character in the Avengers and now it's much akin to her role as Major in this movie.

The Anime for this one was much better as I recall, but I did watch it when I was much younger. I still can't get over how easy it would've been to find some random Asian chick to play the primary for this film. It would've made a ton more sense considering the setting. There were barely any speaking parts for the main female role and the rest of the movie was just CG and action.

As a movie it was fair, but it wasn't memorable. Just your average Sci-Fi with regular robots, guns, and holograms.
Rating - C

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Excalibur Show

So ever since I was a kid I always heard of this show that had horses, knights, and jousting down in Vegas. Of course I never got to go since my parents weren't into that sort of thing...entertaining kids and all...but yeah. I researched this a while ago and these days the show is called Tournament of Kings. Since I now live Vegas, I thought it would be a nice evening to see if this show was any good.

To quickly summarize it, if I were 10 or so, I would've been super impressed with the show, but now since I'm way older, not so much. It had a juvenile story and was quite bland, but the reason is probably because I'm like most middle-aged folks in the world and, "I've already seen way too much shit in my day". I would rather see a musical theater production because that's kinda like watching a movie. This was just an odd form of entertainment and for the kiddies of course. Anyway, you can't really blame the production or anything as it was fine; just not my cup of tea.

I think the most memorable part of the whole thing was when I was making my ticket reservations.

Me: "So what's for dinner on the menu? I heard it's a big-ass chicken with some soup and bread but no utensils"?
Rep: "Yeah you get some of that stuff, but about that chicken, it's more the size of a cornish hen".
Me: "Ah...a cornish hen...that's much smaller than a regular chicken...is it an actual cornish hen then"?
Rep: "Yeah, it's a cornish hen".

And a dry, non-seasoned plain-ass cornish hen it was. All of the food actually tasted horrible and artificial, sorta like airplane food. How they pulled that off in a Vegas casino is baffling, but I'm sure they weren't looking to give the customers casino buffet quality food...sigh.

I did enjoy the rowdy-ass Irish folks from Ireland who were really getting into the show and talking mad shit, but perhaps they were just overly patriotic...or just overly drunk which they were.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Out with the Prius

So after around 4 years of ownership, we bid adieu to the Priusmobile. It was an interesting ride through hybrid territory, but we're going to be joining the statistic that goes back to ICE cars after owning a hybrid. The reason for most people will depend on 2 variables and how important they are when compared to one another: the yearning for power/fun vs economics.

Pros
  • I think one of the main questions a person will have is the reliability of both a hybrid car and the Prius itself. I can say that it's impeccable; both as a Toyota and with a hybrid drive train. Nothing major ever happened and all I ever did was change the oil, filters, tires, battery, wiper blades, and ATF fluid. After being in the Vegas heat, various small plastic pieces like the overhead light covers seemed to break, but these were cheap replacement parts. The car was highly reliable and could easily run for thousands of more miles.
  • The MPG was good compared to an ICE car, but it did deteriorate over time. The max I ever got was 53MPG, but that was when I first purchased the car and across a very flat surface. After that, daily life in a temperate environment/traffic was around 48MPG. After moving to crazy Vegas, it went down to 43MPG. All of these numbers are much better than any average car, but still, compared to the marketing of what a Prius could do, it fell short.
  • Space was good as well. The largest thing we ever fit in it was a huge elliptical machine box from Sports Authority. I still can't believe it fit in there; I wish I took a pic.
  • Initial acceleration from 0 is good since it's using both the gas and electric engine to give it a torque boost.
Cons
  • Slow as fuck. If you're just doing city traffic driving it's not bad, but when you need to accelerate to get out of trouble or get onto the freeway, that is when you notice that it's super lacking in power. If you've ever driven an econobox and were literally flooring it, this is the same feeling.
  • Agility of a boat. The car handles like a large boat. The ass of the car is an anchor and it waddles through turns...totally not a fun experience having a torsion beam for the rear suspension.
  • Smells. The car's fake leather started to smell pretty bad in the heat. It was an odd chemical stench that couldn't be covered up or cleaned up. Add this to the HVAC moldy smell that I tried to address before and all you get is a weird-odoriferous car.
  • In the 115+ degree heat, the electric engine started to not turn on upon initial ignition. It felt as though it was in a safe mode until the cooling fans of the engine kicked in and could circulate the coolant. This was super annoying and assisted in the MPG to plummet in the car. The good thing is that it was predictable with regards to when it happened and how long you had to drive before the car started operating normally again, but still annoying.
So the Prius was a solid car, but it did have its deficencies. For a boring person, an old person, or a thrifty person, the Prius is a no-brainer car. It's much better than any other econobox like a Yaris or Versa, but it really does lack balls and the 'fun' of driving. If I wanted to maximize my wallet I would've kept it and just dealt with it until it broke down at 300K or so, but life is too short to be driving something so plain and mediocre. The hybrid aspect of any car is a cool concept as it really does help fuel economy at lights, stop signs, and stop/go traffic, but the extra cost, smaller gas engine, and overall reduction in power isn't really worth it. When prices for full-electrics go down after they reach 200 miles between charges, it'll be a no-brainer of what direction folks will be going towards. But a hybrid was a good in-between technology to help the general population along.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Mummy (Action 2017)

So the main trailer made it seem like this film could've been been a hit/miss, but like with most fantasy-like films, this one fell right on its ass. In the beginning it tried to be be campy and funny, much like the real, original Mummy movie, but it didn't quite fit in with the characters. As the story progressed it seemed like every single expensive action sequence was already revealed in the trailer. This was super lame and it was totally true.

That literally sums it up so no use writing about it anymore. The movie wasn't really good and it didn't add anything to the fantasy genre. It had some big-named actors but it had a horrible story and wasn't worth the time to watch it.
Rating - D

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Blink XT Camera System

I always wanted a camera system for the house, but I never had a chance to pull it off until now. The main player you see at Costco is the Netgear Arlo Pro but holy shit is that expensive for a wireless setup.

Instead my thrifty-ass got this Blink system since it had 3 cameras and was cheaper. I think the product started out as a Kickstarter and then it developed from there, but I'm not sure if they'll last since their product is lacking... I'm game for supporting the little guy vs a larger company but when a company does have funding, things like hardware, development, and programming come into play for the win. We'll see what happens to Blink, but from my vantage point they are not ready for prime time yet.

The system is OK but there are definitely a few flaws. The first is that you can't have it run for 24/7 streaming and just watch it to see what's going on. You can initiate a manual live feed, but it will only run for like 15 sec or so (never looked up the actual number but it's short), and then it will stop, lag, and you'll need to push the button for a live feed again. Next there is no way to specify tracking areas so if you're pointing one of the cameras towards the street, every car will trigger an alert; that's just lazy. Next, the mounting bracket is very flimsy and the more you take the camera on/off, the greater the chances of it breaking. Next, it having a 2 year lithium battery is cool but there is definitely a downside to remote cameras like this because they are always in a power-saving 'standby mode' and have to be woken up. Usually recordings will either be too short, too late, last too long, or will start at the wrong times.

Yeah if you've tinkered with other home security camera systems you'll know what I'm talking about...you'll begin to notice that there are things that are important and not important but not many products have all the features you want so a lot more research is needed.

For me I want a camera system to record everything to a local SD card in a loop and then copy that data to the cloud. Next, it should send a push notification when there is movement in a specific quadrant, have the ability for 2-way communication, and have night/day capabilities.  Finally nobody wants to run wires so someone has to think of something here...there has to be another way may that be a solar/battery config or a wireless charging/power config. That really sums it up though...is it that hard to pull this off? Evidently it sorta is. Oh and it can't be expensive lol.

Anyway this product seems to have some loftly goals from their website and I have no faith that any drastic changes can be made because of the design. One thing I've learned from my time in IT is that any vendor that doesn't have a feature RFN will probably not pump it out for a long time, so don't buy something based on a future promise.

The search continues!