November 30th, 2014


Definitely Not Stellar

Went to the movies again today, 12:25 showing of Interstellar I was in the theater at 12:30, the ads played and played and played and by 12:40 the previews started. I didn't look to see what time the show actually began. Close to 1 pm, I guess.

The good: John Lithgow. Women scientists in leading roles. Close-up cinematography (as in "Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up") was excellent and there was a lot of it. Some of the special effects. Interesting AI robot. Once in a while there was actual humor. Some of the locations. Nice baseball clip near the end.
The bad: The audio. Way too loud sound loops instead of a real soundtrack. It often drowned out the dialog when it should not have. Ugly, unimaginative closing credits with not a lot of technical consultants. Not surprising because what little hard science there was, was corrupted completely by hints of the paranormal.
WTF is Michael Caine doing playing an American scientist? That role needed a USA accent. "Go not gently into that good night" is over-used. Plot reveals which made no sense, and ignored the theater rule "never introduce a prop unless you are going to use it". Matt Damon looked fat in that space suit. Totally unbelievable tech. Not much acting.
The ugly:
Enough super-close-ups and even Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain start to look ugly with ears that stick out. Many of the very well done close-ups of random citizen interviews were a total waste.
Horribly inaccurate depictions of dust storms. Way too much "If you build it, they will come" corn fields.  
Ellen Burstyn. Nice try, though.
Lots of actors, including the female leads, mumbling. Horrible voice audio mixing.

Nutshell - it's not in 3D, IMAX didn't add anything, wait for Netflix or Amazon.

Home after the movie, though I really should have hung around. Cloudy and windy but warm enough. But there was football, and Spook.

Made sloppy Joes for dinner.

Watched Oregon trounce Oregon State, but was infuriated by the announcers giggling all the way through the 4th quarter as if the game was over, when OSU was making an impressive comeback. Too little, too late, but they had figured out the UO defense and were worth paying attention to.

What I need to do is build a center speaker bypass switch with a remote. Should be easy, with one of those remote controlled light switches. Maybe not - those rely on an AC power source. Something to look into tomorrow.

Received the SSD drive for the laptop, and the drive cloning machine. Opened up the laptop, and discovered it uses a proprietary SSD drive, about 1/5 the size of the one I bought. Will be sending that back to Amazon tomorrow. Keeping the duplicator, it may still come in handy, since it will copy any SATA drive.

Putting the back cover back onto the laptop was more difficult that it should have been. It was very easy removing it. But the audio connectors on the left side refused to slide into their sockets if the USB connector on the right side did. I have no idea what happened, but everything finally lined up. It may be time to replace the laptop with something which has a standard SSD.

Also, when I tried to do a backup, MSFT's backup program refused to see the NAS drive, even after it was connected as a network drive. Boo hiss. I may have to do the backup via USB. zzzzz.

Plans for tomorrow:
No movies
Play with Spook
Maybe do something with the 1lb can of crab meat sitting in the fridge
Take out the garbage

Plastic Sunday

On my Evernote was a very short shopping list, and my usual routine is to start at a store which sells all the items on the list. This time Target was the place, because they have the best price for swapping a used SodaStream cartridge for a new one, they sell SodaStream mixes (diet orange was on the list) and they have house brands of eye drops and zip-lock bags. They also have pet toys, laptops and small electronics (I wanted to replace my bedroom Internet radio with a CD/clock/radio because lately all the internet radio stations have become podcasts, and splice in boring, mindless ads at the start of the stream. Two of them I can quote verbatim, I have heard them so many times. Way to eff up technology, people).

It was raining hard all morning, which was good because the car was filthy and needed a wash.

Found everything on my Evernote list at Target, except an acceptable laptop, and a soft, round toy Spook could bat around and pick up in her mouth.

On to Best Buy to look at laptops, but on the way there was a Petco, and while they no longer carry Spook's favorite toy (which she is in the process of loving to death) and they had 2/$5 on toys in a huge set of bins, and two of them were close enough. Bigger than her ball, but also fuzzier and just as soft. Also got a furry mouse toy to complete her animal set.

Best Buy had a lot of laptops, but they were all $100 more than what I'd beens seeing online. Costco only had a small selection, and their discounts were laughable. $30 on one Dell, $50 on an HP. I had seen better on their Android app.

Home, put stuff away, passed by the white board and saw I had forgotten to put dental floss on the Evernote list. :-(  I will be all out after tomorrow morning. Tomorrow then.

Watched the beginning of the Raiders game, but it got too sad too soon, so I fired up the PC, and did some comparison shopping. I don't really need a new laptop, except I do because it's running out of disk space and there's no viable upgrade for their no longer made SSD drive.

It has an Intel i7 chip, which was top of the line. Still is, but now they are almost 2x faster. 120GB drive was huge at the time, but now 1TB is common. 4GB RAM was the max before, mow 8GB is the minimum. It has a fingerprint reader, backlit keyboard, 802.11 n 5GHz wifi, and buetooth, and one USB3 plus a couple of USB2, an HDMI and an SD card reader. Those are all now pretty standard.

I started on, found two machines which had what I was looking for, each for $600. A Dell and an HP. I am somewhat allergic to HP, having worked there for 5 years before a series of greedy marketing types ruined the company, but I have an open mind.

Long story short, several web-wide searches conformed this was the best price for both of them. There are only two major and one minor difference between them besides the brand:
HP has an optical drive Dell doesn't. My Toshiba doesn't and I'm tired of carrying around a portable drive.
HP has 802.11 n Dell has 802.11 n/ac which is better and what I have at home
HP weighs 5.17 lbs Dell weighs 5.76 lbs. I prefer lighter weight.

After some thought, the ac wifi is useless except at home, and the laptop is my coffee shop machine. A DVD/CD drive and still weighing less is another point for the HP.

So I ordered the HP. Even after $30 shipping it is less than what's available on Amazon Prime, and Best Buy online is $100 more. It won't get here for 10 days, but I'm in no hurry.

That done, watched the Denver/KC game and was guilty of being pleased that Alex Smith once again showed he is a mediocre QB, when faced with a real defense. He has pretty eyes, though.

In Spook news, this morning as I was trying to sleep in, she jumped onto the bed, and sprawled across the right side foot, where I do not tend to occupy. Just as I was thinking she would be a Good Kitty™ and settle in, she attacks my feet under the comforter on the left side of the bed. Tried to coax her back, but she jumped off and ran away. But it's all progress. She has gone from being the cat who hides to being more curious about the whole house. She still hides under the coffee table a lot, but that's in plain sight, and she knows I could pull her out if I wanted to. Right now she is owning the couch, which has the velour leopard print throw, which she matches way too well.

Almost didn't take out the garbage because there wasn't much to take. Making real meals instead of stuff from cardboard boxes does that.

Plans for tomorrow:
Lunchtime - get dental floss and drop off the SSD drive at UPS to return to Amazon. I hope they don't send it back when they see it has been opened.