Thursday, June 14, 2018

Southwest Flight Cancellation and Points

I'm not one who makes it a habit of changing flights all too often, but since my decisions are rarely my own anymore, I sometimes get shoved towards opposing directions.

Fast forward to my Eureka for the week. I went to change a flight which I had purchased with points, but I had to pay cash money for the difference in the ticket price. It was only around $20 so no biggie since I had bought the original ticket a few weeks back, but that sorta annoyed me because I couldn't use points for the change. For the second flight, which I had also purchased with points, I performed a cancellation to see what would happen. So the result was pretty cool.

You'll immediately get credited back all of the points from the flight and the $11 and some change which was the tax will get applied to your rapid rewards number as a credit. I then rebooked the flight I wanted (which only had a minor time change) and everything zeroed out. The same number of points were taken away and the tax was paid for by the credit. Pretty neat hu? So yeah next time you buy a ticket from Southwest on points and you have to change it...just verify that the ticket/time is still available and then quickly do a cancellation and repurchase. Not sure if you need to be using the Southwest credit card to pull it off or if it's solely based on the points, but I did have a Rapid Rewards card and it totally works.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Annihilation (Sci-Fi Drama 2018)

Yeah I didn't like this movie. The trailer kinda summed it up, but the ending reminded me of some deep ethereal film that occasionally pops up every decade or so. Remember The Fountain? Yeah that's what we're talking about here.

The movie was slow and boring. Nothing really deep other than showing that some of the major characters had issues. The ending was anticlimactic and it further supported the fact that it was a pointless film. It's weird because the writer is the same guy who did Ex Machina and The Beach, both films which were good in their own way...this was trash compared to those. Maybe he is another Shyamalan?

Even if you're a Sci-Fi fan, just skip it. Save your energy for something else.
Rating - D

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Ultrawide vs Regular Monitor


It's funny that when you have your mind set on a purchase, you go for it even though you probably have a bunch of reservations about making the correct decision or not. A year a so ago, after the break-in, I got myself a replacement 34" ultrawide screen monitor. It had all the bells and whistles with regards to 144hz, IPS, quick ms response time, large real estate, etc. but after I got it and played around a bit, I knew I was kinda screwed because the box was so damn big and I really didn't like using it.

Ultrawides are kinda a gimmick, at least from my point of view. They are indeed big but you really need to use more energy to look at the 2 extreme sides. I guess for some true multitaskers, it may be great having many apps up, but for me I didn't like it. On top of this, all of the bonus perks had issues. The faster screen made the colors and brightness all sorts of dark and sub-optimal. Whenever you gamed you had to reset many-a-settings so that the monitor would be usable. After all this I really wanted to go back to a smaller-sized monitor.

Luckily this weekend I was able to trade my 34" LG ultrawide for a Dell 144hz monitor with a TN panel. Honestly the panel isn't as bad as the LG one, and I totally dig the size of the 27". Good thing is that now that I've gotten it out of my system, I don't think I'll ever need to go higher than 27". Yes, it would've been great to have gotten a Dell IPS Ultrasharp, but at least I have an option of gaming with this one. Super happy with the change.

So what are some major takeaways? First, remember how large something is vs shipping. This monitor would've cost close to $100 just for the double-boxed shipping since the box itself was so large. Next, try your best to test out a monitor sitting down in a desk environment. This is hard since stores usually have them on display and you can't really get absorbed into it, but if you can and you notice something fishy, run since that same thing will bother you to death. Finally, do your research of the negatives and see if there is a pattern because chances are that you'll have the same problem. I personally am not a lucky guy when it comes to these things.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Downsizing (Comedic Drama 2017)

This was a weird movie. It looked like a regular throwaway film that you'd probably watch on an airplane since it had a plot, but it quickly turned into something that tried to be deeper and have some meaning.

The premise is simple enough...things cost X, but if you make things smaller then items will be cheaper. So building a house is expensive but building a 2X dollhouse to live in would be much cheaper. The bad thing with this idea is that there still needs to be peeps who are large in order to build things smaller so it really doesn't help everyone, just those who are small. Additionally the movie goes into the deeper topics like income discrepancies of the poor vs wealthy and how any society will have those differences.

The whole time I was watching this film I kept on thinking...a housefly would be the size of a small dog. Screw that. How about a spider or something? That would then be a giant spider or snake from D&D....things from the Underdark indeed...no bueno man.

There was some comic relief that came from this Vietnamese lady and her random comments, but all that darkish humor took away from any seriousness that the director may have wanted to have this film convey. I can't recommend it since it was way too inconsistent in its message with too many flaws.
Rating - C

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story (Sci-Fi Action 2018)

Yeah...although I had a feeling this movie might be bleh from the trailers, it was still Star Wars so I went and saw it just like a good consumer I am. There isn't many ways to sugarcoat it though, this film wasn't all that great. I mean it was based in the SW universe but man was it kinda plain and boring.

The whole movie tried to build itself around the multiple action sequences in different locales and the middle was filled with fluff dialog. Ironically the only cool character was the L3 droid. If they would've built the story around her I think it would've made the whole thing more memorable, sorta like Short Circuit.

So I didn't like the look of the main actor. He seems odd and I know it's hard to carry on after Harrison Ford, but still...don't like his hair and mannerisms. Lando was well acted and Emilia Clarke is a plain Jane actress but yeah...nothing to see here.

Overall it didn't have any real depth to it. Music was blah, plot felt like it was all over the place, and it just wasn't that good. People gotta know that you have to have some connection with the damn audience if you want a movie to be considered decent. This was just an episode of something on TV.
Rating - C

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Intel Skull Canyon NUC

So a few years ago, Intel announced the release of a Skull Canyon. It was a NUC that had a i7 and Iris embedded video graphics. The stats looked better than a regular NUC so I was interested to see how it would perform. When it was first released it cost around $800ish and was super overpriced considering that you still had to buy your RAM and Storage. It has 2 M.2 slots and 2 SODIMM slots FYI.

Fast forward a few years when I managed to get one of these for around $300 so I went to town and got the parts. To sum it up, I dig these smaller systems. It was very small, had a huge power supply, but it had the power of the workable work workstation. For example this NUC was so much faster than my primary box at my last 2 jobs. Crazy cakes considering that those are full-sized desktops that probably cost around the same. Goes to show that it's all about the hardware specs. The only crap thing is that my gaming tests with the Iris graphics weren't all that different from regular Intel integrated chips. It was dramatically faster but you still can't play shit. RPGs were even jerky so it's really not worth it.

Even many years later I am still up in the air between what I should pick as a primary box. My Mini-ITX build with a 1060 was all sorts of good, but I still wasn't satisfied. Then I sold that and got a T470s and even through that laptop is good, I almost never use it in Laptop mode since I really need a bigger screen. I also tried to buy a huge 34" 144hz ultrawidescreen for gaming with the ITX box and I discovered that the screen totally lost brightness when I went to 144hz so that was bullshit. I still don't know if it was because I bought the cheapest ultrawide from LG or if the tech isn't up to par. Either way. Apples to apples of an i7 NUC vs a Laptop CPU i5 it's worlds of difference. I just need to buy a desktop that has a real GPU and CPU and then get a 27" good Dell Ultrasharp monitor and I think I'd be set...for now.

So yeah when they announced the release of the Hades Canyon to superseded this Skull Canyon I sold it off to try to break even which I did...ish. But the Hades has an AMD pseudo-GPU which is better than the Iris but still not as good as a 1060...bah!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Google Wifi


So ever since I moved in my new place, I started having odd issues with the wifi connectivity signal. I did my regular IT tests and yup the damn place was too big and lots of my gadgets weren't getting a good enough connection. I did ponder just getting a bigger, heftier router but the placement of my main cable modem connection wouldn't allow me to really do anything in terms of relocating the primary gear. I started researching options and I first bought and tried an extender using Powerline tech. What this does is use your house's electric plug system to act like a large network cable. Functionally it did work, more-so for the wired aspect of the system, but the whole wifi part, it only assisted a bit in extending the wifi power. Fast forward to my research into mesh networks.

So a Mesh Network is a newer tech that works as you would think. You have these puck devices that you place all around your house and it should bathe your home in wifi goodness by talking to each other and piggybacking the connection throughout. Ideally it would have an Ethernet backbone and you would essentially have what most peeps have at work: A real ethernet backbone with APs (Access points) and a wireless controller. But this is the consumer, non-networking guy's way of getting the same result.

After testing out this system for a few months now, I am happy to report that it does work as intended. 1 SSID, a dummy gigabit switch, lots of wifi, and it plain old works without having to reboot stuff all the time. There's an app to look at some basic stats and make any configs, but it's pretty dummy proof. One's wifi network is something that should be simple and functional. If I want to get more coverage I would just buy more pucks, but for now my 3-puck system works just fine. There are a few more competitors in this market but for now the $250ish price range is the cheapest.