Thursday, May 30, 2013

Frontlaven.com

So after playing it cheap for 7 sum years now, I finally decided to buy my domain name. So from now on you should be able to go to http://www.frontlaven.com and it should work OK. Had to do some CNAME inputs and URL forwardings but I think I got it.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Robot & Frank (Drama 2012)

This movie really wasn't that good, and that's probably why you never heard of it right? Yeah it was about an old guy who had a questionable past, getting a robot as a gift from his son and ends up befriending said robot. I think the film was supposed to be about companionship but the ending kinda confused me on that premise. Either way it was slow and fairly unrewarding.
Rating - C

Better Taste

After finishing up the last box of K-Cups, I'm trying out this new Tully's House Blend flavor. Although it's not the best I've had, it's definitely better than the Starbucks flavor that I previously reviewed. Bad thing is that the price for this one is still pretty high and I haven't seen any sales for this brand come through.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The First Bird: Episode 1 by Greig Beck (Book 2013)

At last, another great adventure written by Greig Beck. In this new story we're no longer following the Arcadian, but instead Matt Kerns, the linguist from Beneath the Dark Ice. The plot takes us to the Amazonian rain forest in South America as a multi-talented group of scientists, doctors, and academics search of a cure for a parasitic infestation and the origin of a bird long believed to have been extinct.

Beck again creates an intelligent and balanced mix of action, history, science, and romantic flair that clinches the attention of the reader. I sped through this book in less than a day only to discover that I'll have to wait until Episode 2 gets released to find out what happens next; very exciting. This story is highly engaging and equally reaches the level of quality of Beck's past works.
Rating - High

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Dark Children of Naor by Justyna Plichta-Jendzio (Book 2012)

So this book was offered up to me by the author to read and review. It was translated from Polish which was pretty well done; I would've been none the wiser. The book consisted of three short stories. The first was about a vampire, the second was about dragons, and the third revolved around royal court intrigue.

The first two stories were pretty good and flowed just as well as any other fantasy novel, while the third book dragged ass, mainly because I have zero interest in reading about the drama that exists among the various wives and consorts of some Egyptian lord from some aristocratic house. Think Downton Abbey on a larger scale based in a B.C. Egyptian world minus the butlers.

It was weird how the first two stories were more action-oriented and could've been based in any medieval fantasy book, while the third was totally different, had a lot of talking, and was straight-up Egypt, down to the names of the characters. I found it difficult to remember the gender and station of most characters in the third story because they all seemed to have female-sounding names. I had to wait for the "his" or "her" pronouns to come out so I could backtrack and try to follow what was going on. All that equaled a not very good reading experience.

Either way, this book as a whole was fair, but I think it would be better to totally write out full stories of each, because as one can tell, I didn't enjoy the third story at all. Still, not too shabby for a first attempt.
Rating - Low

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Traffic Court

So have you ever wondered what actually happens if you go to traffic court instead of just paying off a ticket? This is one scenario of what happens. You go to the courthouse at the appointed day/time on the original ticket, go into a lobby, and proceed to a line that splits into two. One side is a cashier while the other is where you inform the state worker that you're there to see the judge. After your case is put in the queue to see the judge, you're directed to a courtroom where you wait with other peeps, just like The People's Court, where the audience sits.

Next you wait forever. 10 min after the appointment time on the original summons, a deputy sheriff bailiff comes in and plays a DVD where a recording discusses what will take place, which is essentially that peeps will be called up one by one and can enter in a plea. After 10 more minutes of waiting, the bailiff comes back  in and a recorder and judge enter. The judge then explains how things will work a second time and we're off to the races.

Peeps get called up one by one while someone always remains on deck in a chair. People can enter in pleas of Guilty, Not Guilty, and No Contest. From what I saw, 95% were guilty, 4% were not guilty, and 1% were no contest. The difference between guilty and no contest has something to do with being able to be sued in a separate civil case if there was an accident and you plead guilty. In an accident scenario you would choose no contest in order to not have your plea used against you, at least from what I understand.

So there were some interesting observations. Many peeps don't listen and after they say not guilty, they try to argue their case, but the judge is not interested and cuts them off because a separate hearing has to be scheduled for a week or so out. The judge explained this policy several times and probably 4 times, peeps were idiots and tried to talk. Another observation was how many people were in there because they either didn't have proof of insurance inside of their car or were straight-up uninsured. The next and most important observation was that every single guilty and no contest plea equaled a reduction in fines and for some, an option for traffic school to reduce a moving violation to a non-moving one. Not sure what differentiated those who were offered traffic school vs those who weren't, maybe past history? So we're talking 50% off the main charge and then being able to not have that stuff get to the DMV or Insurance Companies.

A few people got some minor charges thrown out, but none of these were actual offenses like speeding or illegal u-turns. I guess some cops are real assholes with what they can charge you with. Another interesting thing was that the judge never asked for the story from the plaintiff after they plead guilty or no contest. They already had pre-calculated charge reductions and outcomes locked in.

One sorority-looking college bitch was pretty arrogant as she will be trying to argue a fine of not changing her address on her license. This was one of those lame fines that a cop charged her with, but she will lose her case because she kept on saying that she is a college student and moves around a lot. I don't think the court gives a shit about that. If think if she plead guilty, the judge might've let this infraction slide but she was a hoochie and her attitude didn't help.

So yeah who knows if these outcomes happen with all judges or just the one I witnessed, but it's totally in the judge's power to jack you or not, although I didn't see any real jacking even though there were peeps who were totally lying when they said they had valid insurance when they were pulled over even though they didn't bring it in with them. Proof was king in all of these cases, and those who lie will be proven so at a later date because they all have to come back with evidence.

The most expensive charge was being uninsured when caught driving; half a grand son! There were peeps with multiple charges like a suspended license, no insurance, no registration, and were dressed like crack addicts to boot. Weird being in the same room as them; a step down from a DMV visit.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness (Sci-Fi Action 2013)

Excellent Star Trek film. It was better than the first just to make the comparison. Everything was good about it: acting, costume design, special effects, plot, music J.J. Abrams created a very fulfilling moving experience with this one as it was jam packed with everything you would want out of a Sci-Fi Action movie.
Rating - A

Monday, May 13, 2013

Windows Event ID 513, CAPI 2

Symptoms
System State Backups were failing via the backup software, but the regular flat files were still backing up OK. VSS was also displaying some errors in the event logs. Main error was:

Windows Event ID 513, CAPI 2

Cryptographic Services failed while processing the OnIdentity() call in the System Writer Object.

Details:
AddCoreCsiFiles : BeginFileEnumeration() failed.

System Error:
Access is denied.

Hardware/Software
(2) Servers. Both had Windows 2008 Server as an OS. One was a VM and the other was a Physical.

Verification Test
CMD vssadmin list writers

You are looking for a Writer Name: 'System Writer'

If you see it in the list then this solution may not apply to your box. If you don't see it then please proceed.

Main Attempt
Go to: C:\Windows\Registration
Change permissions to:
  • SYSTEM = Full
  • Everyone = RO
  • Administrators = Full
Online searches didn't mention to propagate down but when these changes didn't work, I tried to do a propagation and that also didn't work. Bunk solution in my case.

Real Solution
Run these under a CMD. No restart necessary. Run another vssadmin list writers to verify.

Takeown /f %windir%\winsxs\filemaps\* /a
icacls %windir%\winsxs\filemaps\*.* /grant "NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM:(RX)"
icacls %windir%\winsxs\filemaps\*.* /grant "NT Service\trustedinstaller:(F)"
icacls %windir%\winsxs\filemaps\*.* /grant BUILTIN\Users:(RX)

Sources
All over the place but these 2 locations were the primaries.
Link1
Link2

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End by Manel Loureiro (Book 2012)

This was a pretty good zombie book. The turmoil is based in Spain as the writer is Spanish and such, so that was a change from the usual US-based zombie adventures that I quite often read. The format of the storytelling was blog/journal entries so it was similar to that of Day by Day.

A few things that bothered me was that the survivors took forever to find a knife or to fashion a weapon out of everyday items. It seemed unrealistic how after you figured out that zombies could heart and needed to be taken out via the head that you wouldn't try to have a close quarters combat (CQC) type of weapon or to try to make a spear of some sort to alleviate the need for using one's firearms.

The second thing that was a bit unrealistic was that the main character kept on toting around his cat. I can understand a dog but cats totally don't listen to you...might as well have a parakeet. Sure, an animal may assist in keeping one's sanity in terms of remembering what it is to be human and all but still...watching a person carry around a cat carrier in the zombie apocalypse would make me question a few things.

Although there were some oddities with the story, the pace was good and the characters were believable. I'm hoping there will be more books from this author to continue on with the story.
Rating - High

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Drama 2012)

So this was an OK movie. It reminded me of a HS version of Garden State, but instead of apathy from life experiences comes a situation where the lack of life experiences attributes to a lot of the problems that the main characters face. Funny how HS sucks so bad. We all know that none of it matters after you get out.

The actors were OK. Emma Watson did her thing but it was very obvious that she was trying to hide her British accent since she didn't sound quite right. None of that took away from the actual acting so that was a plus. The writing and plot was a bit different but it was still watchable. I wouldn't say that it was bad, but the style did have a purposefully placed artsy theme to it that I found quite pretentious.

Either way, the movie was fine, but for some poor sap in their freshman year of HS watching this, what does this film actually say to them if they are indeed unlucky enough not to have any friends in school? Not everyone can be as lucky as this main character was in getting in with a senior clique which included Miss Hermione Granger.
Rating - B

Sunday, May 05, 2013

No Bueno Taste

For any K-Cup coffee drinkers out there who shop at Costco, know that this Starbucks House Blend Medium is the most expensive of the options you may have at your local store and it's definitely the worst I've had this far. It tastes quite burnt and the flavor is closer to Bold than Medium. Blah, in this instance cheaper is indeed better.

Jack Reacher (Crime Action 2012)

So this movie was OK for a partial action crime flick but it's one of those 100% forgettable ones. I will so not remember a damn thing about this movie come tomorrow.

I really don't know why they make these types of movies where there is a main character, a kinda interesting plot, a bunch of no-name co-actors and nothing else special. Especially for action movies, only having Tom Cruise with nothing else other than his normal self isn't going to cut it. At least Oblivion looks interesting because it's Sci-Fi and futuristic...
Rating - C

Friday, May 03, 2013

Iron Man 3 (Action 2013)

Excellent first film to start off the 2013 summer movie fiesta. I’d wager to say that this 3rd Iron Man would give the first a run for its crown. But yeah wow, if you’re looking for non-stop mindless fun then this is it. It was probably 1.6x what The Avengers was in terms of oomph. Lots of special effects, humor, and action. Yes, the story lacked in many spots and didn't take any time to develop properly in any which way but it the action filled in the gaps.

Although parts of the ending were a little too much of the same, it was still enjoyable and entertaining. I think the main baddie was supposed to die like 3 times by my count. I still don’t know what happened to him in the end to be honest. Either way, will worth the $8 ticket.
Rating - B

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Golly I think I should've posted this much earlier since I've now owned this phone for a little over a year now. This Galaxy Nexus used to be the flagship phone a generation ago since the Nexus 4 already came out. I think my phone before that was some HTC one. Either way with this phone I was thrilled because I would get a clean slate OS without any UI additions or locks. Was it worth it? Yes.

Software
As stated I wanted a Vanilla pure Google experience and I certainly got it with this Nexus. The only thing that it’s still missing is a numerical notification of the battery life on the top bar, but hopefully one day the Android devs will get the hint that this is a very important missing feature. Besides that though, the UI has been smooth and fairly stable compared to other AT&T branded phones that I've had in the past.

Software Updates
This is one kickass thing. Whenever a new update comes out, this phone gets it OTA within a few days. We’re talking ICS and Jellybean and all of the minor updates in the middle. I've probably gotten one major update and 3-4 minor ones since getting this phone sometime early last year. That almost never happened back in the carrier-branded days.

Stability
So the phone is fairly stable but yes it does occasionally go slow, restart itself, Wifi can’t connect automatically, etc. Most of these things happened to me on iOS as well so it’s nothing new, but it’s certainly not bulletproof. Still, a minor quibble for a modern smartphone.

Service
So one bad thing did occur with the phone a long while ago. When I did a major update to Jellybean, I didn't wipe the phone before installing the OTA update and what happened was that it broke Google Wallet to the point where it didn't work even after an additional wipe. For some reason the NFC (Near Field Communication) chip that I had thought was on the battery was connected to my “old” Google Wallet account and the data could not go across to the new OS. So I essentially had a phone that could never be able to be synced up with Google Wallet again because of a hardware link.

Long story short I called Google and they tried to assist software-wise but after wiping my phone numerous times they verified that it was hardware and that the chip was a part on the mobo and not the battery. So since it was past the 30 day warranty through Google, I had to call up Samsung and get support through them. Surprisingly it went pretty smoothly and I had to send in my phone, they repaired it, and sent it back to me. I think I was phone-less for a week or so.

Hardware
Yeah these days all of the phones are essentially the same now. Other than the huge screen of the Samsung Note line, I don’t see anything really special that one phone has over another. It’s all about updates and stability at this point.

Overall
So yeah one would think that my support experience with the NFC chip would sway me away from Android and the Nexus line but it really didn’t. I know that with branded phones you are locked away both SIM-wise and software-wise so it’s pointless to want to have any freedom and get upgrades. I’ll still take my chances vs having to deal with the GPS hardware fiasco that occurred with the Samsung Captivate. I’ll be skipping the Nexus 4 and wait for the next Google Phone to come out but yeah I’m all about buying direct now. Next round of upgrades via AT&T I’ll just get an apple and sell that shit to make money.