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.

  • 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.
  • 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'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 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!

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Dunkirk (Military Drama 2017)

It's been a while since a real war flick has been this good, but luckily we have Christopher Nolan who is a beast when it comes to quality flicks. This movie was slow. I'll pre-warn you just in case you're looking for a fast-pace flick. It was slow, methodical, and jumped all over the place with regards to scenes and time. You do have to use your brain to put things together but it's all worth it.

The non-liner method of storytelling is a very different strategy, but it really does get the plot across in a good way. I guess it turns into a fulfilling journey to go through for the viewer.

The film is all about the British and some allies trying to flee France after the Germans were finalizing the takeover of the mainland during the start of WWII. This movie followed around several folks during the event and told a pretty solid story. The music was nuts though...very realistic and it totally drew you in; some musical queues were similar to the ones in Interstellar where the sound was odd, but in a good way.

I straight up recommend this movie. Solid film.
Rating - A