Posted tagged ‘reviews’

New Laptop

September 13, 2018

Well on Tuesday my new laptop arrived from HP. Ordered on Sept. 1, arrives on Sept. 11. I requested priority shipping. The website said 2-4 days for extra $40. I hate to think what regular, non-priority shipping was like.

The laptop is an HP Spectre series with 15″ screen, 8Gb of Memory and 500Gb Solid State drive. Old computer was also HP but with 13″ screen. I still get my employee purchase discount which is about $250 off the price.

So it arrived by FedEx. I had to sign for it which was to be expected. After all, the box says “Intel Inside” which translates into English as “Steal Me”. They tried to deliver on Monday, but no one home. I told the driver that you said it was going be delivered on Tuesday so I wasn’t going to be home all day Monday. Driver tried to deliver during the 1.5 hour that I was out.

So the laptop has 2 USB-C ports, 1 USB-A port (the old fashioned kind) and a HDMI port to connect an auxiliary monitor. Also, it has headphone port and power connector.

I’ve been setting it up over the past few days. Took over an hour for the first boot and load of Windows 10. I had considered buying a Mac, but decided that it would have cost me over $1000 more to get a Mac laptop similarly configured.

First steps were to download the Dropbox app and login and find my files that were stored in the cloud. Then loaded Chrome browser from Google. Logged into Google and magically all of my web shortcuts reappeared. I was impressed.

Then logged in to Microsoft and downloaded MS Office. I have subscription to MS Office, so no additional fees.

Next, I was looking for a PDF editor. First try was PDF Suite. They added a couple of other utilities that I thought might be useful, but when I tried to load them. Loader says “Virus Detected”. Not good. The loaded the PDF editor. That didn’t go well either. App locks the file and prevents my ability to change file name. Support person argues no viruses. I tell her if Windows says virus on my computer, then it doesn’t get installed, PERIOD.

Call support and tell them I want money back. She tries to get my to take 50% discount. No dice, I tell her. I want 100% back. I stood firm and said I want 100% back. Eventually I got my way. Received email confirming refund. Will need to check credit card account to see if the refund was really done.

I found another PDF App called PDF Pro 10. Works much better. Two major things that I do with this app. First is to reorient pages from portrait to landscape. Second is to delete pages that I really don’t need to save.

Next step is to get copy of NoteWorthy. This is an app for editing sheet music. I have been using this for about 8 years. Email to support with license info. They immediately sent me a link to download the app. No muss, no fuss, no money. Happy customer. For anyone that does any work with sheet music, this is a great app.

Next step was to install drivers for audio interface that I use at MA Grand Chapter OES and the Mixcraft recording app. All set for next May.

Final step was to download HP software to connect to my HP printer. This allows me to scan files directly to my laptop. Connect to HP support site. No fee.

Solo

June 24, 2018

SoloLast  night was date night. We went out to see “Solo: A Star Wars Story” at the Regal theater in Rancho Palos Verdes. Paula liked it. I  had mixed emotions about it. It had lots of shooting and blasting. It had a new Han Solo and a new love interest. It had a new wookie and a new Lando Calrissian. It seems that all of the characters from the original were introduced. They seemed to be in some sort of battle for some contraband or something. I never quite figured it out. Just a lot of loud mayhem.

So the film was directed by Ron Howard. Howard sure has a large body of work.  He sure has grown since his days as “Opie”.

Woody Harrelson had a big part in the movie. When I first saw him in the movie, I thought. to myself, is he still working? First saw Woody in “Cheers” back in 1982. I had to ask Google, “How old is Woody Harrelson?”. The answer: “57”. Pretty good action for an old guy.

2018-06-23 20.27.51So we saw the film in the “Regal Cinema” in RPV. This theater is equipped with big, comfy recliners. Ticket price a bit more than the regular ticket prices, but worth it. If one pushes the seat all the way back one might fall asleep. Though, not likely with all the shooting and fire works.

One other thing about Regal. I had purchased tickets in error for Friday rather than Saturday. I talked with manager and he gave us two coupons for a future show.

Another thing. The theater seemed to run the audio real loud. To my mind, too loud. It makes a lot of the dialog muddy. My hearing aids don’t help. In fact, they make it worse. Luckily for this film, one doesn’t need to catch all of the dialog.

Picked up chicken at KFC on the way home. Didn’t taste very good. Hate to spend big money at a restaurant when I know it will probably taste like crap. Took it home. Had a glass of wine. To bed.

Isle of Dogs

May 2, 2018

Last night was date night again. Our friend Roberta was visiting from San Diego and promised that she would sit with Mary so that Paula and I could have a night out at the movies. So Tuesday is $5 night at AMC theaters and Mother in law sitting free. You can’t do better than that. We paid more for the popcorn and bottle of spring water than we did for the tickets.

Isle of DogsSo we decided to go see “The Isle of Dogs“. This is a Japanese animated film that tells the story of dogs that had been exiled from the city of Megasaki to trash island. So, apparently Mayor Kobayashi is a cat lover and has ordered all dogs exiled to Trash Island.

The film tells the story of a boy who is search of his dog. So the boy (Atari) is aided by a pack of five dogs that together run into many obstacles along the way.

So the people spoke Japanese with subtitles, but the dogs all spoke English.

The film is PG13 for some violent images. Just because the film is animated, doesn’t mean it is suitable for children.

I was unimpressed. I would give it about 2 out of 5 stars. I would have been upset if we had paid full price. It was mercifully short (1 hr 41 min.)

chops and salsaDinner was at Taxco Mexican restaurant just around the corner at Western and Capitol. Excellent food as always. We both had Margaritas to wash down the food. Very tasty.

They had an excellent spicy salsa to go with the chips.

 

Staying Alive…

May 11, 2017

Last night was date night. So we saw an ad for “Saturday Night Fever” appearing on one night at several local theaters in LA. A show at 2pm and 7pm. So Paula calls up one of our baby sitters for Mom and we head out to  see the film that we last saw forty years ago. There weren’t many people in our theater. Probably not more than 10 people. No senior discount for this film. We had to pay full price. Here’s the link to the trailer.

This director’s cut of the movie was staged by a company called Fathom Events. The presentation at the beginning of the film alluded to other films that would be presented in the coming months. Typically the presentations would be on a Wednesday at 2pm and 7pm. Not sure how this is going to succeed with so few folks in the seats.

Here is a list of other classic movies coming to the big screen in the coming weeks. 

  • Smokey and the Bandit
  • Godfather
  • Some Like it Hot
  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High
  • Bonnie and Clyde
  • The Fifth Element

What a joy to watch. We had forgotten so much about this film. The film starts with John Travolta’s character Tony walking down the street in Brooklyn wearing a pair of red shoes and carrying a can of paint. Strutting  to the Bee Gee’s great sound track. So good to see it on the big screen with the sound of a full movie house audio system.

There were parts of the movie that we had completely forgotten, like the 1963 Chevy Impala. The boys took turns using the back seat to have sex with whomever they managed to hook up with. They were each allotted 20 minutes after which the boys would come banging on the windows. Hurry up, they say. IMDB says that this was the first time that the phrase “Blow Job” was used in a motion picture.

We begin to see Tony’s bleak life with his hope of escaping by way of the disco dancing contests. Nice Italian family with a picture of the elder son (Father Frank) on the mantle. Then Father Frank comes home to tell everyone that he is leaving the priesthood. Oh no, not that. So then Frank goes out with boys sans roman collar. One of Tony’s pals asks Father Frank if he can ask the Pope for a dispensation so that his girlfriend could get an abortion. Father Frank says not gonna happen.

Oh and the fashions. Loved the white disco suit and the red shoes.

This was John Travolta’s third film, but it was certainly his breakout role.

Star Wars – The Force Awakens

December 27, 2015

Okay, I paid my $6 (plus $1.35 convenience fee) and went to see the latest Star Wars movie. The theaters are packing them in. Our theater was full for the 4:30pm showing. Last night was date nite for Paula and me. Dinner at Taxco Mexican Restaurant after. 

 Okay, Paula liked it, but I wasn’t impressed. Decidedly Meh. For all of the big name talent, I expected more. I kind of expect more from George Lucas and JJ Abrams. I expected a sequel and all I got was a remake of episode I.[my error, Lucas didn’t work on SW-VII]

I had a couple of problems with it. First, it felt like a reimagining of the original Star Wars. Yet another “Death Star”, another evil “Darth Vader”, another “Rebel Alliance”. I mean it was different actors and different photography, but it felt the same.

Sure they brought the original characters out of retirement for a cameo. We’ve got Princess Leia now General Leia. We’ve got Han Solo and Chewbacca back in the same old Milennium Falcon. I was amazed they didn’t have to call AAA to get a jump start. The only cast member missing was Yoda. Sure we have a new heroine named Rey (played by Daisy Ridley), and a new hero named Finn (played by John Boyega)

So it’s been almost forty years since the original Star Wars hit the silver screen. You’d think that they’d be flying new space ships, by now. But no, same millennium falcon, same rebel fighters, same trooper uniforms. What Air Force is still flying the same aircraft 40 years on?

Even the new Death Star has a vulnerability just like the Death Star of episode I. It’s the capacitor. Wasn’t it Scotty in Star Trek complaining about the “flux capacitors”?

Spoiler Alert.

The last scene where they finally find Luke Skywalker was filmed on the Skellig Michael Island, off of the southwestern coast of Ireland. The idea was that Luke had fled to the far off reaches of the Galaxy to escape the reach of the empire. It would be hard to find a more remote looking place on this earth than the Skellig Islands. Paula and I got to see them from a distance during our tour of Ireland in 2012. It’s hard to believe there was a settlement of monks living here.

 The Skellig’s can only be accessed by boat and I believe you need special permission from the Irish government. The monastery on Skellig Michael Island was established by monks some time in the 8th century and operated until the 12th century. I would assume that George Lucas paid the Irish government a ton of money to use the site.

I give it 6 stars out of 10.

The Martian

August 20, 2015

The MartianI just finished the book titled “The Martian” by Andy Weir. Well it’s a sort of science fiction novel. It’s the story of an astronaut who gets left behind on a NASA mission to Mars. The six member crew aborts their mission after a serious dust storm on Mars. The commander believes that crew member Mark Watney perishes in the storm and orders the remaining crew members to hastily depart the planet.

This is the story of how Mark Watney struggles to survive after his crew mates have left without him. Okay, this is science fiction, but it is believable science fiction. It probably helps if one is a nerd or a geek to read this. There is a lot of technical mumbo jumbo.

He figures out how to produce food. Fix his living quarters and communicate home to the folks at NASA.

The book doesn’t real state what the date is, but I kind of inferred it was perhaps 30 or 40 years in the future. It is what one might imagine a Mars mission might look like.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. I read somewhere that a movie version is in the works. I kind hardly wait.

COIN

July 5, 2015

  About 18 months ago, I paid $50 to join a crowd source funding for a new product called “COIN”. COIN is supposed to be a credit card replacement that could dynamically change the data on the credit card magnetic stripe. One would be able to store a total of 8 different credit cards on the device. The idea is/was to reduce one’s credit card bloat in your wallet.

It seemed like a good idea to me. I typically have about 6-7 credit cards including ATM cards, credit cards and the like. The developer was promising delivery during the summer of 2014. I guess the early beta didn’t go as well as they hoped. So last summer they scheduled a second expanded beta with expanded beta units going to those who signed on early in the funding process.

Everyone else would have to wait until full production ramped up this summer. Those who didn’t want to wait could get a refund. So a couple of weeks ago I finally received my unit. Better late than never.

Here’s how it works, You need to install the COIN app on your smart phone (in my case an iPhone 6 plus). The COIN comes with a plug in credit card reader. First you have to pair your phone with the COIN. The COIN uses Blue-Tooth to communicate with the app.

One loads the credit cards into the app by swiping the card on the card reader. Then the app prompts you to add the security code on the back of the card. Once you are finished loading credit cards onto the app you then sync the credit cards with the COIN, So far so good. Works as advertised.

The COIN is the exact same size as a credit card. It has a small display that shows the card type (AMEX, Visa, etc) and last four digits of the card number. You can load credit/debit cards, gift cards and some id cards that have a magnetic stripe (though I can’t see how much use that would be.) There is button that you press to wake up the card and select the card that one wants to use.

Supposedly the COIN is compatible with most credit card readers and ATM’s. Here is where the rubber hits the road (or not). I haven’t tried it on any ATM’s yet. I don’t need to go to ATM’s very much. I usually get cash back while I am at the supermarket.

I have tried to use the device about a half dozen time. This is certainly a very limited sample size to be sure. I have attempted and been rejected at two different restaurants. I have successfully used it at a grocery store and the Starbucks at the grocery store.

It does have some neat security features though. The COIN won’t work if you lose connection to your phone. And the app will warn you that your COIN has gone away. It shuts off after about seven minutes and you will need a pass code to turn it back on or be paired with your phone.

So I wouldn’t use at it the regular Starbucks. They have an iPhone App for that and it works quite well.

Much of my shopping is done online and this device is of no use for that type of shopping.

My end goal is to have Apple-Pay become more widely accepted. Then I could ditch the credit cards all together. As it stands right now, I have only seen Apple-Pay in use at one merchant establishment (Panera Restaurant).

If you are interested in learning more about the device from the developer’s web site, Go to onlycoin.com. As for me, I’m not quite ready to leave my credit cards at home (at least not yet.) The support pages has a list of merchants that accept COIN and a list that have been reported as rejecting it.