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.

Monday, May 07, 2018

The Foreigner (Crime Action Drama 2017)

Not too bad of a movie from Mr. Jackie. He hasn't been in too many films as of late. Probably getting old which sucks all around. This movie was surprisingly pretty good. It was filmed out in UK so that's always more entertaining than it being in some boring US city.

The story was good and the acting by some of the secondaries really showed how some peeps can truly act. It was an all around good crime drama; perhaps it's a genre I'm slowly gravitating towards.
Rating - B

Justice League (Comic Book Action 2017)

This one didn't get much attention although that's what usually happens to most DC movies. The film was OK but it really was average. Interesting characters like Aquaman were made to be superficial, while the uninteresting like Ben Affleck were given more screen time. I don't really get that.

Action and special effects were on par, but the story seemed short and everything was dark. Very average flick.
Rating - C

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War (Comic Book Action 2018)

So let's talk about what marketing can do. This film has been highly publicized and all over the place so you would think that it may be the next great slice of cheese right? Eh, as with most disappointments in life this didn't totally live up to all the glam, although it wasn't necessarily bad either.

I did finally get a chance to see it and as a regular movie it was fine; it probably moved along a little better than some other Marvel films, but it still wasn't anything super spectacular. The film was long...like close to 3 hours long. It did kinda need to be that long since all of the plot and fighting scenes ate up a lot of screen time. They also had to introduce all of the main characters group by group so again it was understandable. The special effect circus was, of course, impressive, but as a general movie...eh. They left it open to part 2 so that should be good, but yeah the length did start dragging it down towards the end.
Rating - B

Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Shape of Water (Drama 2017)

I suppose I can see why some peeps liked this movie. It was different and artsy in its own way and it was certainly in the 'well directed' category, but that's as far I would go with it.

The movie had a different style to it. Kinda like Amelie from the 2000s? The story was simple while the characters all had their issues. I guess compared to your average comic book film it was more developed and folks took their time in making this one. With that being said I didn't necessarily like it personally. Sure, the whole girl falling in love with the Creature from the Black Lagoon-looking person is one theme that was eh, but it does make sense from the character's perspective. I dunno...it was OK, but I won't be watching it again.
Rating - B

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Ant-Man (Action 2015)

So this was one of those Marvel movies that I didn't get to see in the theaters. I guess the commercials just weren't convincing enough. Multiple years later here we are and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. For the most part it's a regular Marvel comic book film.

There wasn't anything to let it stick out too much from the ordinary though. I don't really have a memory of Ant-Man comics so he didn't interest me as a kid either. It was plain Jane and nothing more.
Rating - C

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Amazon Sellers Marketplace

So I've been selling my used goods on both Amazon and Ebay ever since the practice started. Before that it was Newsgroups...oh fun times those were. Anyway, the task of posting, shipping, and getting money has gotten harder over the years because everyone keeps on raising their rates, may that be the actual posting cost or the money transfer method i.e. Paypal, but I still keep doing it since it's super shady to make Craigslist postings in larger cities.

So yeah I posted my old Switch/Router since I went to a Mesh network and the very next day Amazon sends me a notice saying that I'm selling "counterfeit items". Seems like TP-Link, the manufacturer of my old router states that I'm full of it. I'm just ranting that they can go eat a turd. They have no basis for accusing me of selling a counterfeit part yet Amazon totally goes with them and blocks my post. Amazon is usually good with buyers but holy shit fuck them. Anyway, I've already submitted my receipts and pics, so we'll see if the damn company even responds but yeah. I'm thoroughly annoyed at the whole thing. Decades of selling I tell ya and it comes to this.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Ready Player One (Action 2018)

This was a movie where I actually read the book first. Who would've thought right? The book was better but that's not to say that the movie wasn't good. It was, but they did change a bunch of stuff in the storyline. I guess that goes to show where books can be better in building up suspense, characters, and develop the plot more. If you see the film and think that it's a bit rushed at times, just read the book; it had a more solid pace to it.

So yeah this movie was full of nostalgia so I'll give it hella brownie points for that. I'm slower and older now so it's nice to see lots of characters from almost every single video game and/or movie from my past. Its cool that this story even exists.

If you didn't watch movies or play video games throughout the 80s-2000s then most of the references or music/sound choices will make sense, and it may seem like an odd, mediocre film, but if you were even mildy exposed like regular humans, then game on. Although it wasn't super solid, I have been waiting for this film for about 3 years so yeah...it was worth it to see in the theaters.
Rating - A

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Thor: Ragnarok (Action 2017)

So this was a pseudo-fun movie overall. I thought it was a bit too silly in the beginning, but then the story sped up a bit and then it got more interesting towards the end. Some characters were better than others but yeah overall not that bad.

The main thing to realize is that it's super dumb in the beginning...like it's almost embarrassing how bad it was. I don't know why the writer decided to make it so dumb. Consider it a Godsend that they were able to save it from the fishes. As always the first Thor was the best...just like Iron Man.
Rating - C


Saturday, March 17, 2018

Coco (Animated 2017)

So this movie got a bunch of positive reviews from all corners of the world it seems. Personally I didn't think much of the previews so I wasn't expecting folks to like it that much. I missed seeing it in the theaters so when it came out for a rental I gave it a go.

To cut to the chase the movie wasn't bad, as it flowed at the same pace of other Pixar films, but the characters and dog didn't really draw me in either. The story was simple and made sense but unfortunately I didn't find it too enjoyable. This isn't to say that it was negative per se, but it sure didn't have that humanistic feel that other Pixar films usually have.
Rating - B

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Sci-Fi Action 2017)

I remember when this movie first came out. It had an interesting trailer with some nice visual shots so it seemed to have some potential. So did it live up to that initial impression? As Ducky would say, "Nope nope nope."

Although the movie did have this campy Fifth Element feel to it, it certainly wasn't up to that caliber because it didn't have Milla in it....and because it generally sucked. The animation of many of the characters was clumsy and way past any baseline CG. It was actually terrible considering that it was made in 2017. I've seen regular video games half a decade old have better computer animation.

The characters were hella forgetful and the main guy was a friggin' annoying-ass turd who reminded me of this lame Millennial generation of turd kids. The story was blah and I think the bad acting and crappy animation made it seem like a 3rd rate film school project. Totally not worth the time to watch.
Rating - D

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Outsider (Drama 2018)

So here was an interesting movie that had some potential. Jared Leto played this white boy who was in Japan after WWII, got tossed in jail, and then through a series of events joined the Yakuza. Cool premise but how was the execution? Eh.

The movie had a slow feel to it, just like other Japanese gangster movies from the 90s/2000s. But as a whole it seemed like a focused attempt with amateur results. The plot wasn't strong enough to make up for the pace and ending. I suppose it was fair, but I didn't think it was that good of a film. It's good that Netflix is investing in different ideas though, so I'll give them props for that.
Rating - C

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Black Panther (Action 2018)

Well this movie sure had a ton of hype behind it. Although the trailer music seemed pretty cool, the rest of the film was an unknown.

So let's cut to the chase. The movie was interesting...it seemed to try to integrate real social and historical issues into a superhero Marvel movie. Not too sure what I think about all that. Was it the time/place? Eh. Not really but who knows these days right? Personally I just wanted to see some good action and if there was a decent story then bonus points all around.

It did live up to expectations regarding plot, action, special effects, etc. Some of the acting was overly done and/or some of the dialog was odd and misplaced, especially with the little sister, but overall it was a good film. The whole sub-story regarding humanity, anthropology, technology, causes, radicalization, etc. was a deeper twist to a comic book plot, but yeah. Folks shouldn't take it too seriously with regards to alternate history because it's just that; alternate.

So to compare, it was a little bit better than Winter Soldier, but not as good as IronMan.
Rating - B

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Cloverfield Paradox (Sci-Fi 2018)

You know I was actually shocked by the IMDB rating of this Netflix movie because it was actually a fairly solid Sci-Fi flick. I wasn't expecting much since I don't really like the Cloverfield series and recently any sci-fi film has been pretty disappointing with regards to story.

This movie, I thought, was a pretty solid Sci-Fi flick. It had an intro plot, normal characters, a purpose, regular emotions, and flawed characters. Bam. Special effects and music were good and the ending was odd but place-able. Not sure what the debate is all about with regards to the ending since it's a straightforward concept.
Rating - B 

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Action Comedy 2017)

You know I was wondering why this movie was still in theaters after so long, and now I know. This movie was friggin' hilarious. The concept was funny enough but the actors really know how to act. I totally dug it. Action, jokes, plot, and acting were all pretty much on par with a good comedy.

Even though the film is kid-like, I think it's still trying to hit a certain older demographic, so it's not an immature film. As I'm rethinking more about it, I can't really say any part was bad. It was solid and truly entertaining.
Rating - A

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Fences (Drama 2016)

This movie truly is one that shows why Denzel is a pimp actor. I didn't think I would say something like that from what the preview displayed, but I was pleasantly surprised just a few minutes in. The film is done in an interesting style where there is a ton of dialog and monologues, but in the frame of a light-ish story. There isn't a long, complicated plot; it actually sorta seems more like some live theater production of sorts, but it really takes talent to pull off the streams of dialog that this movie was full of.

Again it's a different film in that there isn't a bunch going on, but you can tell the quality of the work. Not too shabby at all.
Rating - B

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

The Big Sick (Comedic Drama 2017)

So this movie was a random one that was free off of Amazon Prime. It seemed to have good ratings on there so I gave it a go. Yeah it was highly overrated; not sure what all of those thousands of folks who rated it were smoking...

So the movie was fair but nowhere near impressive. Only a few scenes were funny and the rest just tried to be funny, unsuccessfully. I honestly don't see where the satisfaction came from as a viewer. The whole film seemed bland and uninteresting vs being something clever or unique.
Rating - C