Kindle Fire

Here are some of my first impressions with the $50 Kindle Fire. After using iPad and iPhones (and one stint of a Galaxy Nexus on Android 4.x) I needed something to replace an aging and slower iPad 2. (Curse you iOS 9, I want iOS 6 back.)

Screen – definitely not Retina-class. The ppi is 171. That shouldn’t be too bad for movies or books, but it’s noticeable when coming off of an iPhone. Fingerprints show up easily and I’m missing auto-brightness.

Speed – Not bad, but the slowness can be noticed. Heavy websites aren’t super speedy on the Silk browser. The rest of the OS is fine and mostly smooth if you’re not in a hurry.

Feel – I like it. I think it’s a good size. Fits most pockets and doesn’t feel too thin like an iPad does. I don’t have a case yet.

Weight – Enough heft to know it’s there. That can be good as I don’t think I’ll break it by handling it, and bad as it might get noticeable when reading a book. I might need a case that stands it up.

Software – meh, it’s Android. Which means there are dozen ways to do things and it’s annoying. A little cluttered with lots of default Amazon apps and “suggestions” (glorified ads) on every page. At least the ads suggestions can be turned off. Once I get used to it, it should be fine tho’.

I still have to get all my software on it. Lastpass, Plex, Netflix, etc… we’ll see how it does over the next week or so.

Bonus – SD card slot for expandability.

So far – Seems like I’ve been pointing out all the flaws. Actually, I like it. There’s actually lot of value for the money. Especially if you’re already in the Amazon ecosystem for books and videos (or Amazon Prime).

For reading and watching video should be a winner. For light browsing it should be good enough. Much better than my iPad 2, but not as good as an iPad Air 2. Of course I’m comparing wildly different class tablets too.

UPDATE – It’s been two weeks now and I’m not as impressed as I was. The CPU is too anemic for browsing and moving around the UI can be quite laggy. And the screen resolution is annoying for small text, which seems to plague a lot of websites with crappy mobile design. As a Kindle (book reader), it’s good, but don’t inflate your expectations beyond that.

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The Accountant

TheAccountant.jpgThe Accountant was an odd movie premise from the start: autistic accountant savant by day, hitman by night…but I was pleasantly surprised that it almost worked. Unfortunately, everything that The Accountant did right, John Wick did better and with more style.

While John Wick setup an interesting underworld with it’s own rules and codes, The Accountant is just a what? A revenge movie? A hitman with a heart of gold movie? I can’t tell.

The Accountant is entertaining. A sequel might be good enough as well, but I’m looking forward more to John Wick 2.

Rogue One

I won’t expound on Rogue One. It’s already been hashed to death on the internet, but I will say I enjoyed it. However, I’m glad that episode 4 was already established. If it wasn’t for episode 4 stating that a lot of people died, I’m sure Hollywood would have saved our heroes and then shoehorned in a pointless romantic subplot.

Surface Ergonomic Keyboard

SurfaceKB.jpgI broke down and bought a Surface Ergonomic Keyboard the other day and I’m quite pleased.

Features

The media keys work! No need for remapping. That was a not-so-minor annoyance with using the Apple Keyboard on Windows: several missing keys, no media keys, and the need to remap something if you really wanted it. It wasn’t a deal breaker for me because I like the feel of the keyboard and it’s very easy to type on, but it’s nice to have media keys back.

The only issue with having media keys is now I have to toggle for Function keys. I do use F2 (rename) and F5 (refresh). But there is a toggle switch so you can choose which keys will be the default.

There are media keys for mute, vol up, vol down, prev, play/pause, next, bright up, bright down, magnifier, multitask, connect to devices, settings, calculator, minimize all, notifications, and lock.

Bluetooth is built in so there is no dongle. The keyboard runs off of two AAA batteries. Pairing it up with Windows 10 was a breeze.

The ergonomic keyboard has a bit more heft to it than the regular keyboard. It’s a good weight. I prefer keyboards have a bit of mass to them. I don’t want it moving around on my desk.

Aesthetics

The keyboard looks great. It’s all various shades of grey. The palm rest for the ergonomic keyboard has a nice feel to it. MS says it’s easy to clean but I’m just leery about a cloth palm rest. It’s some fancy Italian fabric. Soft, and padded a bit. The cloth palm rest is the only thing I’m leery about with this keyboard.

SurfaceKB2.jpg

Nitpicks

  • The lights to indicate the capslock, num lock, etc. are a little dim or small.
  • The shift key next to the Z is a bit small too. Altho’ it could be that I’ve not used an ergonomic keyboard in a long time.
  • A bit spendy at $130, but if it holds up as well as a mechanical keyboard then it’s worth it.

None of these are deal breakers.

Conclusion

I’m still testing out the ergonomic version. I’m tempted to go back and get the regular version, since I use a regular mechanical keyboard at work.

I heartily recommend this keyboard. What little time I’ve spent with it I can say it’s a great keyboard. It’s a little spendy, but if you like the Apple keyboard style with perfect Windows (Win8, 8.1, 10. No Win7) integration, this keyboard is great.

Jessica “don’t bother” Jones

After watching the excellent Netflix show Daredevil, I was eager to watch the spin-off series, Jessica Jones, but…

It’s classless. It’s horribly written. The dialog is childish. It’s full of terrible modern culture tripe and feminist bullshit. If there’s good in this show, I couldn’t find it.

A comment on a very aptly timed Chateau Heartiste post accurately sums up Jessica Jones:

Marvel’s new Jessica Jones is adapted by the lady that adapted Twilight. I don’t know if there is a clearer version of a feminist worldview than that, but it hits your entire list in one show, plus some bonuses

Does Jessica Jones see injustice in the world and decide to use her super powers for good? No she gets raped and the entire miniseries is about her trying to get away from her rapist, and because he is a stalking pyschopath she has to confront him.
Mudsharking? check
mutant hatred as a proxy for race? check
Oil Driller? check
Lesbian power couple? check
British villain? check
Sleeping with your attempted murderer? check
Telling an expert to STFU just because he is a man? check
Black Junkie… wait what? he has a heart of gold… ah… check
Trannies? I have my suspicions about one of the “women” in the power couple
Incest? ah yes… gotta open up the new fronts. white of course

John Wick

John WickJohn Wick is an mindless, but entertaining shoot-em up. Keanu Reeves stars as the ultimate hitman out for revenge after gangsters steal his ’69 Mustang and kill his dog. John Wick is supposed to be the Russian mob’s boogyman devout only to the mission that he partakes. However, Keanu only pulls off a mostly robotic Terminator assassin. There are a few times where John Wick is shown to be human and Keanu does a pretty good job but those moments are too few and far between.

The action is intense and luckily there isn’t any shaky-cam involved. But a lot of the action is just Wick pulling off impossible headshots. The tag-line for this movie should be “BOOM! Headshot!” And after all the times that John Wick is beaten and battered I walked out of the movie hurting.

The best thing about the movie would have to be the underworld the writers setup. All the seedy elements in this non-named city use gold coins as an alternate form of currency. And Ian McShane heads up a neutral-zone hotel called The Continental. One gold coin to stay at the hotel. One gold coin to clean up a body. It was quite an elaborate setup for such a simple run-and-gun revenge movie. Unfortunately, that setup was the most interesting thing in the movie. There could be a sequel based on the beginnings that setup, but I think John Wick is a one trick movie. John Wick isn’t terrible. It’s entertaining as a mindless shoot-em up movie with some unique properties, but it’s not special.

Lewis (Series 7)

Lewis (Series 7)
Hathaway and Maddox

I saw the premier of series 7 for Lewis. I liked it. I was a little bummed out when Lewis retired at the end of last season. I thought I would have to rely upon Endeavour to fullfill my Oxford mystery quota. I never followed up to find out of series 7 was greenlit or not. Thinking it was cancelled, I had a pleasant surprise when Roku sent me an email saying that series 7 started on PBS.

I’ve liked Lewis from the start. The dynamic between he and Hathaway are great. Lewis, the common-man inspector in the hoity-toity Oxford is a fish out of pond. He often relies on his educated, yet not naive, Hathaway to fill in the gaps of this knowledge. It’s a partnership that worked. However, now Lewis has moved into retirement and Hathaway is the Inspector with a new sidekick. I won’t be giving anything away by saying that Lewis is still in the show. He’s now a consultant to the department. Maybe it’s just a transition period. I don’t think Lewis can stay on the show if they are going to have a new partner for Hathaway, but I guess we’ll see how it pans out.

The episode was good. Hathaway and Lewis are in fine form. The writers need to find the new partner’s character soon.

 

Update (2014-10-18): I saw the second episode of this season and it was very good. I almost felt sorry for the murderer. He was cuckolded twice. But he did murder three people. It was a crazy episode. It also seems that Lewis is staying in the show. I’m glad. More Lewis and Hathaway is always a good thing.

Twin Peaks (2016)

I’m excited for this. It looks like Lynch and Frost will be doing a nine episode sequel to the original Twin Peaks and Lynch will be directing all nine. Twin Peaks 2016 will be a continuation of the story and not a reboot. After all the reboots I’ve seen in the theater and on tv, I’m glad. I’m done with reboots. I don’t want to see another one. Another YouTube video said we’ll get some answers to some of the questions the cancellation left us with. I hope they don’t give us too many answers. The mystery is part of the show.

Photo Tests

Here is an example of a low(er) light photo with HDR on an iPhone 6 Plus. The lights weren’t too low, but they were much lower than what I would have liked with my iPhone 4S. The focus is incredibly fast and I’m the optical stabilization will help me out a lot. I was constantly retaking blurry pics on my 4S because I’d shake the camera. So far, I’m quite impressed.

My (currently) favorite beer.
My (currently) favorite beer.

A Walk Among Tombstones

A Walk Among Tombstones Movie PosterI enjoyed Liam Neeson’s new thriller. It felt like a Jason Patterson bookmovie: The bad guys were psychotic. The good guy wasn’t perfect, but he wasn’t some woe-is-me, super-flawed, I’m-not-good-I’m-just-less-evil character. Liam Neeson does a great job. He has just the right amount of grizzled, seen-it-all cop without overdoing it. The token black kid was kind of annoying, but he wasn’t a deal breaker. Like the last movie I saw, The November Man, this is a good movie, but nothing stood out about it to make it great. If you’re a fan of Liam Neeson, see it.

P.S.: Just make sure you don’t see it in a theater where they will come around and tell you to take your leg off the back of the seat in front of you during the climax of the movie, thus jarring you out of your engrossment and completely destroying the feel of the movie. I won’t name any names (Carmike), but there appear to be some movie theaters that do that. (Carmike)