Sunday, June 25, 2017

2014 BMW 320i

I never thought I would ever have a BMW on the payroll, but here we are. We ended up getting this with the FR-S funds because at the time it was hard to make a good decision on any car and I wanted more time to figure things out. Long story short, we got the cheapest CPO BMW with a White/Tan color scheme.

Pros
  • The car isn't as fast as the Volvo, but it does have a much smaller engine in comparison. With that being said it's still pretty peppy and gets 29 MPG mixed, which is pretty darn good considering.
  • The ride is silky smooth; it seriously feels like a Mag-lev train at times, so good job on the suspension and handling.
  • There are no stability issues the faster you go which is much different from other cars I've driven. Usually you will 'know' when you're going near 85 MPH on a decline or something, but in this BMW, the car still has such a solid feel with the road that you don't even notice it.
  • I dunno if it's standard or an add-on, but at night time the door handles have a downward pointing LED on all doors and the inside doors have a hidden, amber LED string that subtlety illuminate the cabin. These are very functional and convenient perks.
  • CPO is cool since you get more years of supported warranty, but the dealership does try to up-sell/scare you will pre-paid maintenance and a tire replacement deal. I'll get to this later.
Cons
  • Everything about this car is expensive. We had to get a tire replaced recently and found out why RFTs (Run Flat Tires) suck ass. Essentially these tires are designed to be resilient-enough to be totally flat and still ride-on for 50 miles at 50 MPH. Bad thing is that they aren't fixable/patchable and can only be replaced. Then you actually have to find a tire shop that is cool with replacing it with non-run flats since some shops have differing policies regarding this matter.
  • We opted out of the pre-paid maintenance and tire package, but I'm guessing it's gonna be hella expensive for even an oil change.
  • The steering-wheel controls for the infotainment suck so much ass. How hard is it to have a 'next' and 'back' button? You instead have this wheel contraption that you rotate around and then you have to press in to select. WTF? So in order to change a radio station or skip to a next song, you have to do 2 steps instead of one. It really isn't intuitive.
  • And lastly we get to the reliability. We've had the car less than a year and we've already had to go into the shop a few times to get things looked at. I'll continue to have a running tally on this page and update it when we bring it in since I'll be interested in a few years what the total will look like after we get finished with this car and eventually move on.
Ongoing Maintenance/Service
  1. Out of nowhere the rear brake light unit broke off of one plastic hinge and was pseudo dangling down. We had to take it in and the dealership replaced it under warranty and said it was a manufacture defect.
  2. An alert came up on the dash saying that the parking light failed. I think this was a bulb that went out somewhere.
  3. An alert came up on the dash saying that we had low tire pressure. I pumped up all tires to the recommended spec and continued on. 1 week later the alert came back up and we went to the tire shop for them to look at. This is where we were schooled on the terrible RFTs. Luckily Big-O was cool with replacing it with a normal tire. AND they didn't try to be punks and sell us 2 tires, just one. I have a feeling that the other 3 tires will get nails in them as time goes on...
Overall
I for one know what a BMW is...my better half may not share the same concerns though. I'd never really get one of these cars if it was only up to me. Renting one temporarily is OK but long-term? Hell no. This car just reeks with the smell of an expensive upkeep.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Aftershokz Trekz Titanium Bone Conduction Headphones

I came across these headphones while searching for a regular pair and became intrigued at the technology. Bone conducting...does something like this really work well? I bought a pair late last year and have been using them off/on in various locations, so I think now I can accurately report back on their performance.

To get it out of the way, yes, the tech does indeed work. You can put foamies in your ears, put this on, and you'll be able to hear music, Youtube videos, have phone conversations, etc. The unfortunate part is that even though you can hear, what comes out does seem "odd" and muffled. I guess that goes along with the whole biological, evolutionary development of one's real ears and how they function vs. this newfangled tech.

The main positive for this device is that you can hear stuff through the headphone, albeit with only 70% clarity, while fully hearing the rest of your environment with no problem. So if you're in an office environment, you'll be able to listen to music but still hear the phone ring or if a co-worker comes around and starts chatting. Additionally if you're outside and it's not too noisy, you'll be able to be situationally aware.

The main negative is two-fold. First, as I already mentioned, the clarity of the sound leaves a lot to be desired, so if you're a picky music listener and care about quality and clarity, these aren't the headphones for you. Secondly, if there is any sort of background noise you're screwed. Some examples of these noisy environments are airplanes, cars (especially at freeway speeds), outdoors with a lot of people, outdoors with any yard machinery, outdoors with wind, etc. Your first instinct when you can't hear the music through these headphones is to turn up the volume to try to make the vibrations greater to offset the real noise entering in through your ears, but then your ears will start hurting and that whole process seems unhealthy.

So yeah there you go. Unless you have a very specific use case for this device, I'd vote to pass on it. It's good that it exists, but I personally want to listen to good quality music when I'm in the mood vs having mediocre sounds come through.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Mass Effect: Andromeda (3rd Person Shooter PC Game 2017)

Maybe it's just the old age talking, but my fondness of games has totally dwindled over this past decade. Where the hell did the fun games go? I suppose some experiences here and there are still enjoyable, but for the most part I find myself bored to death almost immediately after starting a new one.

This 4th iteration in the Mass Effect series sure didn't help that despondent outlook regarding games...sucks how this one was the worst out of the bunch.

A lot of the reviews were correct...something felt really off about this game. It was sorta like Bioware wasn't involved anymore or perhaps it had something to do with EA and their BS that has been tanking many IPs over the past half-decade or so.

The game was poorly written, the combat had a crappier feel, and the story and all the characters were super uninteresting. It did feel like a copy-paste with regards to locations, baddies, guns, and boss battles. The old school Mass Effect games all had an excellent story, good characters, good 'pals' to adventure with, and an overall immersive universe. It wasn't about what you were doing but more about the experience, just like playing in a movie. Andromeda felt like a boring-ass cardboard game. I mean how can you make all of the NPC characters so uninteresting? Who approved that? Why wasn't there any good voice acting to try to backup the terrible animations? Yeah, it really was that bad. After I was probably half-way through the game, I got so frustrated that I just rolled through the main quests and finished the whole thing. Very anticlimactic and short.

I'm pondering selling off my 1060 GTX Video Card in protest because there is nothing fun worth playing on the horizon and this was such a disappointment. They should really stop making more Mass Effect games if this new direction is going to stick. Papa wants his money back.
Rating - Low

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Wonder Woman (Action 2017)

So this movie was definitely not a Marvel one. It felt more like Man of Steel in that there was a whole introduction to the main character and gradual build-up to the end. But just like in that movie, the final battle scene was super over the top and no longer entertaining. It just became a silly mess of special effects and I wanted to get out of there.

I'm glad they went with a new character and all, and it was nice to have the whole character building in the beginning, but the movie felt soulless. Not sure how else to describe it, but I didn't find it too enjoyable for the long-term. It was also too long, so that may have contributed to the negative feel.
Rating - C

Monday, June 05, 2017

The Girl with All the Gifts (Action 2016)

Here's a random zombie flick that doesn't suck. It's been a while since World War Z was pretty disappointing vs what I was hoping for from the book. This story takes a different twist but at least there is more of a plot and character development. It's not your average zombie movie so if you got an evening to blow, it's not too bad of an option.
Rating - B

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Action 2017)

Yeah they should really just stop with this series. The first one was good of course but every movie since then has gotten worse and worse. This latest summer iteration is no different. Just a bunch of action, crap story, and overall an uninteresting mess that wasn't even funny.

Disney is really milking it with no originality, but lots of special effects and loud music.
Rating - D

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Alien: Covenant (Sci-Fi 2017)

Gotta enjoy your neighborhood Alien movie whenever you can get some. It is very hard to live up to the 1980s Ripley though. This one was the pseudo-continuation of Prometheus and unfortunately for Covenant, the latter was a better film. I liked the whole mystery and unanswered questions from Prometheus, and although this one had its fair share of unanswered stuff or information that could've been elaborated upon, the main core plot was too simple and I just didn't like it.

But for a summer film this was OK. I wanted it to be better but it is what it is and that's still fine. I've seen much worse in my day.
Rating - B