Thursday, July 20, 2017

Eye in the Sky (Military Drama 2015)

Well this was a frustrating movie that invoked some pretty intense emotions. It was about all of the red tape that went along with a military operation that crossed countries. Not sure if this type of stuff really happens in the military (I can't imagine it does to this extent) but holy shit. Everyone kept on pushing major decisions up the chain and it took forever and a day to come all the way back down.

I know that the film tried to play with the whole emotions of morality and rules of engagement and stuff, but in all honesty, common sense and collateral damage should be something that can be calculated pretty quickly in a situation like the one shown in this movie.

I see this type of BS all the time in the business world and it's so damn annoying. People need to grow some balls and just make a damn decision and roll with it. If you can't deal with the consequences or what it takes to get results, then you don't need to be in said leadership position. Anyhoo, this is a great movie that shows what red tape is and how much it slows down productivity. All the emotional stuff is valid too but damn...talk about not getting things done. It's like a corporate meeting.
Rating - B

Sunday, July 09, 2017

A Hologram for the King (Drama 2016)

This movie was fair, but it's totally one of those forgettable ones. I wasn't quite sure if it was supposed to be a regular drama film or an existential view of the character's self-evaluation of his life. But either way the movie totally seemed to drag ass. There was a likable taxi driver character but that was about it as well...most everyone else was fairly boring and the plot took forever to get anywhere.
Rating - C

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (Comedic Drama 2016)

You know I thought this movie would be a lot worse than it turned out to be, but it wasn't too bad. The film was a direct mix of comedy and drama but it was subtle and not 'in your face'. The plot is exactly what the trailer shows so just watch that and you'll know the general gist of the story. Yeah not a bunch of content but good enough right?
Rating - C

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

Sicario (Crime Drama 2015)

This was one of those slower crime drama films but this time set in AZ/Mexico. Think of old school Heat and that's the pace we're talking about with character and plot development. I think this movie was overall an OK flick, but it lacked the excitement that I'm used to. If you watch this when you're even remotely sleepy, you'll probably pass out because there are plenty of slow parts. Acting was solid and it didn't have any real flaws other than its pace.
Rating - B

Monday, May 08, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Action 2017)

I think this movie was better than the first one. I certainly enjoyed the banter much more than the original. The movie was just more of the same but that 'more' can be seen as a good, mindless fun. This is totally one of those films where you turn off your brain and just watch for some humor and silliness. The story itself probably wasn't as good as the first but the situational dialog made up for it.
Rating - B

Friday, April 28, 2017

Battle for Sevastopol (War Drama 2015)

So I started watching some Amazon Prime flicks lately and this one popped up as something that looked interesting. It's a Russian/Ukrainian war drama about a female sniper back in WWII. I've seen a few films from this era from the Russian side of the war and I'd say it was about average compared to all of the others.

One thing Russian filmmakers haven't gotten down, much like Chinese filmmakers, is how to make good transitions and how not to make it look like they are obviously trying to shove more plot within a very limited amount of time. When directors do this, movies seem to be rushed, choppy, and don't flow well.

As a story it was OK, but it had its downsides all over the place. I think with a different screenplay and director it could've been much better.
Rating - C

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Beauty and the Beast (Disney Musical 2017)

So this remake was OK. I liked how they added some scenes to add to the basis of the story, but the songs were better in the cartoon so it's a toss up as to which one was overall batter. I'm a nostalgic person so I'm still leaning towards the cartoon.

I suppose it's worth watching once but it's more of a airplane movie as there was nothing that really stood out. CG is nice but yeah it lacked a lot of spirit and character; too artificial I guess.
Rating - C

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Kong: Skull Island (Action 2017)

Eh, it was OK for a monster flick I suppose, but nothing really out of the ordinary. A lot of the characters were utterly worthless and were just filler, but the primaries sorta made it happen. Samuel L. Jackson seems to play the same crazy main character in all of his films, so it's hard to separate out movies from the actor. There was this crazy scene with a tree spider and yeah, no thanks, but that was well done.

Overall not really worth a theater watch, but I did so anyways.
Rating - C

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Collateral Beauty (Drama 2016)

This movie was fair but very predictable. The acting was top-notch as you can probably tell from the cast, but I think the story itself was lacking and didn't flow too well. The movie is a great candidate for one that would be shown on an airplane; that was the feel I got from it while watching it.

The pace was slow and a bit boring, but it wasn't a bad film. It could've been better if they did more to it, but I think the director wanted it to resonate in a specific way. Anyway it's renter if you're interested.
Rating - C

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Magnificent Seven (Action 2016)

This movie was entertaining enough for a Western action flick. I can always watch anything set in the West for some reason...dunno why. I don't like six shooters or horses or wearing dirty hats but yeah it's one of those things.

The film's plot was reminiscent of Seven Samurai which was a good old school flick, so you pretty much know what you're getting. 7 peeps helping out a town and taking out waves of baddies. Mindless shooting everywhere.
Rating - C

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Logan (Action Drama 2017)

Yeah this movie is not your run-of-the-mill X-Men film...it was raw, deep, and a bit depressing. The movie was a drama through and through although it had a lot of violence as well. It takes Wolverine and Xavier through a very focused timeline that I never read about; perhaps it was never in a comic...I'll research that later. It actually contained a lot of serious topics like immigration, science ethics, aging, and purpose. Hugh Jackman should get a friggin' award for his acting though; that man is Wolverine.

Anyhoo, not much else to say other than it was a really good movie, but I probably wouldn't want to see it a second time. Some deeper movies make it into this category; sorta like requiem.
Rating - A

Patriots Day (Drama 2016)

I'm not really sure why so many of these types of movies exist. They are merely dramatized versions of historical events of significance, but people seem to want to watch them? Do folks out there really need to watch a movie about an event in order to understand what happened? I think it would be more interesting to read the raw details vs watching a movie since it kinda goes into the area of entertainment, but evidently people do like the movie-version of things.

So this movie is just like Deepwater Horizon or United 93. I dunno how much pertaining to the characters is true, but yeah... Was it good for a movie? Sure it was ok, but the whole time I kept on thinking that I already watched it since I read about the whole thing when it happened.
Rating - C

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Moonlight (Drama 2016)

Best picture, really? Eh...I don't know about that. This movie was a slow one...very very slow. It followed around this kid through 3 major phases in his life and then the movie just ended.

The artistic style was there in terms of the storytelling but I didn't really feel it ya know? This kid had a hard time growing up and then he eventually became a man who was kinda damaged and closeted. OK that sucks. Anything else? No, here is an Oscar for you. Maybe I missed something but I don't think I did.

The film didn't invoke any emotions or deep conversation; it was just a drawn out story of a dude and his unfortunate life.
Rating - C

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Underworld: Blood Wars (Action 2016)

This one didn't feel like a real movie...it was just like how one would think of another Underworld film...fast, shiny, and barely any story. I remember the first one to be loads of fun but that was many years ago. I watched this a few weeks ago and yeah I can barely remember anything that happened.

They referenced the old movies, there was some Werewolf leader, some Vamp Council, and the cold North of Europe...that's pretty much about it. This is something that can play in the background while you're cleaning the house during the summer on the weekend; that's how much you don't need to be paying attention to it.

Sucks that Kate Beckinsale isn't getting better gigs.
Rating - D

Moana (Disney Animated 2016)

Well this Disney movie was OK. The animation was up to par and it still felt like a Disney flick so I'll give it that. I didn't like the moving tattoos on The Rock's character...too reminiscent of Disney animation back in the early 2000s when they sucked. The main character's nose was a little too pronounced as well..I don't think Pacific Islanders look like that. Music was OK but the main song won't catch on and sell well. Eh, not too impressed but still not that bad.
Rating - C

Monday, February 27, 2017

Hidden Figures (Drama 2016)

I got to get a TV or something since I didn't even know that this movie was a thing before hearing about it at work. This one followed the life of 3 NASA workers who so happened to be black women during the Civil Rights Era in the US. Interesting premise and base for a story...let's continue.

So everything you'd expect from a plot like this is exactly what you'll receive. Lots of racism, workplace issues, gender issues, etc. It does suck that peeps had to go through all of these hardships even though they were all educated and fairly smart in Math/Physics. The whole segregated bathroom thing would've drove me bonkers.

Although this movie was generally good, two scenes really stood out that sorta bothered me. In one scene Taraji P. Henson exploded to her super when questioned about her whereabouts. I thought this whole scene was poignant, yet way too overacted since a real person back in the day in this type of work environment wouldn't have done that and had gotten away with it. Hell nobody would get away with it these days even if the super was somehow in the wrong, so the fact that she did that and was able to keep her job was astounding and unbelievable.

The second scene was when another character was caught running jobs on a newly-installed IBM mainframe. This is a blatant breach of physical IT Security and I also don't think that would be tolerated in a government facility back in the day. I get how you gotta stretch a little to get things done, but no way should a person be rewarded for tinkering with, making punch cards, and running programs with Fortran without prior authorization. I get it...she would never have been given the chance to prove herself or display her skill because of the time/era and her race/gender, but still...it was the wrong move and would totally get you axed from a position in the real world.

I'm guessing those scenes can be categorized into Hollywood sensationalism in order to tell a story, but yeah I think they could've handled it a bit better and in a more believable fashion. Nevertheless, the movie was good and the end felt a bit like Apollo 13, minus the epic music.
Rating - B

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Passengers (Sci-Fi 2016)

You know, even though many reviews for this movie were less than stellar, I got to say that it really wasn't that bad. I actually liked it and I felt that it was fairly realistic with regards to the characters' emotions and actions in relation to the story.

I'm a sucker for Sci-Fi colonization films though, since there are so few of them as a genre, but and I'm glad it only had a handful of characters in it since you get more time to delve into the minds of primaries. The story wasn't deep though, it was kinda vanilla in what what did happen so nothing out of left field there. The special effects were good, but we've seen it all before for the past 15 years or so. The music and atmosphere were as expected, but yeah overall it was a fun film to watch.

I would totally pay money to have a room in my house that looked like one of the spaceship living quarters; the small, grey one not the fancy loft one...it looks so damn efficient and sterile. Anyway, I thought the movie was alright and it's worth a watch for any Sci-Fi fan.
Rating - B

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Great Wall (Fantasy Action 2016)

As anyone could've expected, this movie was super campy. The mobs reminded me of the baddies in Starship Troopers; numerous, uninteresting, and pure CG. The Chinese army part of the movie was what one could expect from anything coming from over there, think Hero. The sections with the three English speakers was as expected, but totally artificial as well. A weird combination to say the least.

The beginning of this movie (first 10 min) was kinda cool for an intro, setting up the characters, soldiers, and environment and such, but it quickly went downhill from there. It had almost zero character development, you didn't get to really know any of the primaries, Matt Damon had this weird accent that I still cannot place, and Pedro Pascal was just comic relief. It was totally like they wrote a Chinese movie, was later told that they had to integrate foreigners into it, then were told to cut down on the run-time, then decided to drop everything pertaining to development and redirect all remaining funds to CG.

When the film ended it wasn't as crappy as I thought it would be, but it still teetered on the lame end of things and was a 'not all that well' put together movie. One interesting fact is that this was the most expensive movie filmed over in China? Odd...I really don't know where all that money went since 90% was CG. Their workers can't get paid that well.
Rating - C

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Arrival (Sci-Fi Drama 2016)

So this movie was way more Contact-esque than your average Sci-Fi flick. It really tried to be deeper than I was expecting which is a good thing I suppose.

All the characters were pretty forgetful as was the story. I thought it was pretty plain for a plot, but it wasn't necessarily bad either. I just wasn't excited about what was happening and the ending was kinda a blur.
Rating - C

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Manchester by the Sea (Drama 2016)

This is one of those slower dramas that doesn't have too much plot, but instead it's all character based. That being said, I'm pretty impressed with this Casey Affleck person, as his acting stood out as being top-notch.

Besides that though the movie was slow...like something that you'd see on an airplane slow. Lots of long-shots, driving, waiting, silence, etc. You really have to be immersed in what's going on in order to fully enjoy it. Still a good movie though, but nothing super award winning. I think it got nominated for a few Oscars but yeah, besides the main actor one, it was just OK in the rest of the categories.
Rating - B

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Plantronics BackBeat Fit

So this Bluetooth headset is on sale at Costco right now. I think it was around $70, so I jumped on it since it seemed like a good deal. As you could've predicted, they've been returned.

So this is a run-of-the-mill Bluetooth headset. I didn't try the calling feature to test out the mic, but I did listen to music and work-out with them on. They're OK but nothing great. One side of the earbud things didn't fit too well and it only came with one size of nubs. After you take off the rubber piece you'll see the actual speaker and it seemed to be glued together haphazardly with no real quality in place. That pretty much did it for me right there. I'd rather get my money back. I did glance online that you can get different nubs for the ears and it will make for a better fit, but really, there are better quality brands out there if you spend a bit more scrilla. Who needs mediocre things if you can afford $20 more or so.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Huawei Honor 5x

So earlier this month I started having problems with my Galaxy S6 and incorrectly assumed that it was going bad. Long story short with that chestnut, there seems to be a pesky "Enhanced LTE Services" setting that appeared after a recent software update that will jack up regular calls and prevent you from hearing the other end. If you turn off the feature under "Mobile Data", all will go back to normal.

But anyways, I thought my phone was dying so I rush researched something cheap to get me by. I picked this Honor 5x since it had some good reviews online, but yeah...no bueno for me. I only owned the phone for 2 days before returning it but here are the things I noticed.

Pros
Cheap - For under $200 on Amazon it's a fairly good price, but after looking more, the newest OnePlus is only a bit more expensive and probably a lot faster.

Battery Life - During my use it did drain much slower than the S6. Still in the 70s-80s after a whole day at work.

Fingerprint Scanner - This was very quick and snappy, better than the S6.

Cons
Speed - If you're used to flagship phones and their speed, don't even bother. This phone is slow booting up and all the apps very slow; it's quite noticeable.

Push Notification - You have to turn "on" Push for some apps like Outlook under a totally different power-setting area since the software is dumb. The OS defaults to a power-saving setting which is almost unheard of.

Wifi Bands - It doesn't have the AC 5GHz wireless Wifi band, so you'll be stuck using the old school/slower connection.

Thoughts
The phone was OK but it was too putt putt for my tastes. It was also 5.5in and I discovered that I really didn't like the size. I'm a 5in screen type of guy. Not too big, not too small. I should just suck it up and pay for the extravagantly overpriced Pixel then switch over to Google Fi for service. But I still got a few more months left on my last AT&T contract. They're raising prices on the unlimited plan again as well so fuck 'em.