Movies Watched in 2019

I have dedicated this post to movies that I have watched in 2019 (these have to be fairly current movies from this year or late last year to make the list). Newest movies are at the top. My goal this year is 60 movies, 1/2 in theaters! Bring it!

Final Count: 37 Movies –  It was a busy year… I think I’m actually missing quite a few movies. I was going to try and figure out what I was missing but I’m just going to try and keep better track in 2020.

Jumanji: The Next Level – Not as good as the first, but not as bad as I feared.

Star Wars: The Rise of Sywalker – This movie met my expectations. I think it could have been much worse, but at the same time it could have been much better. It does a fine job of wrapping everything up and it’s probably what we needed.

Knives Out – Another great movie. It’s got a lot of Clue-like mystery and it’s smart and well done. Bravo for original storytelling.

Ford vs. Ferarri – Man, I can’t say enough good things about this movie. Everything is polished and solid. Loved the story,

The Lion King – Man, did they rip the soul of out of this one. The animation is impressive and the movie is very much like the original but some things are best left alone (I feel like I’m ripping every movie I’ve seen lately… guess they should make better movies).

X-Men: Dark Phoenix – At this point I’m having a hard time sorting all the movies in my head. I’m not sure when things happened. Frankly I’m not even sure what’s happening at this point.

Terminator: Dark Fate – What a mess. There were certainly parts I enjoyed, but the storytelling was sloppy. I wish they could nail a sequel.

Toy Story 4 [Home] – This was fantastic. The level of animation was incredible to the point that some shots looked like real life. This thing made me tear up at least twice.

Zombie Land: Double Tap – A worthy sequel in many ways. Very funny. I’d do a third.

Joker – Huh. Not as disturbing as I thought it would be. I think the goal here was to try and elicit some sympathy for the Joker. But there’s a deeper lesson- find compassion for the mentally ill.

Hobbs & Shaw – I spent a good chunk of the movie asking myself what I was watching. It was so over the top. A two-plus hour assault on my senses and movie making in general. Not bad.

The Missing Link – Certainly cute. The animation was amazing. It’s too bad these kinds of movies don’t typically do well.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Wicked good.

Men In Black: International – This had terrible reviews, but I thought it was a lot of fun.

Crawl – If I ever get into a situation where I have to evade crocodiles I hope I have a strong swimming background and a shower stall as tough as the one in this movie.

Spiderman: Far From Home – Epic Marvel movie. Lots of good twists and turns in this one.

Child’s Play – Thanks Mark Hamill! For nothing. When your creepy “My Buddy” doll murder your cat you just call it a day right then and there.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters – Great news. He’s on our side now.

Aladdin – A fun remake. Go strong women!

Ma – For me it all goes wrong when they reveal why she wants to murder everyone.

Brightburn – Evil Superman? Interesting.

John Wick 3: Parabellum – As they expand the Wick Universe things seem to be getting a little stranger.

Pet Semetary – A solid remake.

Shazam! – Great. Funny, entertaining and a great DC entry.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Crimes of Grindwald [Plane]- Unmemorable.

Mortal Engines – Liked it. I would totally drive one of these little cities.

Captain Marvel: Not necessarily high on my list but I figured I’m in like 20 Marvel movies anyway so I’d better get to the bottom of Carol Danvers (and I mean that in the least sexy way possible). The movie was fine- that’s the best I can do. I like when people whip out that latent side of their humanity and it makes them strong. 7/10

Creed 2: Rocky III & Rocky IV mashed together. I’m impressed with how far they can take these movies. Not great, but fun. 7/10

Alita [Theater]: I saw this when we went to Oahu. I enjoyed it so much I decided to go see it again in IMAX 3D. This movie pushes all the right buttons for me. I love the visual effects and the story (it’s a little light on some plot elements, but it’s not something I’d complain about). 9/10

Glass [Theater]: Plot twist: M. Night is making fun movies again. In terms of what’s going on (visual effects, locations, etc) this is pretty basic. But it works really well and the ending doesn’t really let you down.  7.5/10

Predator [Home]: Absurd. I don’t every understand why I pushed myself through this. Luckily there was the insane clown posse (not the musical group) and they made it a little more fun. 5.5/10

Happy Time Murders [Home]: Wow. Brian Henson helped make this, eh? What a sad end to his Dad’s legacy. A few funny moments… but pretty bad overall. 5/10

Adrift [Home]:Props to Shailene- she did a great job. This reminded me of “All is Lost” but they used a plot twist element that makes it a little more interesting and a lot more depressing. 7/10

Replicants [Theater]: This is the one I was waiting for. So bad it’s good. “Yeah, I can grow a human in 17 days even though I’ve never done it before.” This has more holes than Swiss cheese. The acting is awful. Nothing makes any sense. I’d watch it again in a heartbeat. 5/10

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse [Theater]: This was fantastic. One of the best movies I’ve been in a long time. I loved the animation and the entire movies was a non-stop delight. Somehow I lost the email with the ticket confirmation. It just disappeared (maybe it was transported to an alternate dimension). But the Megaplex can look up your tickets via your gift card number. Nice. 9/10

Aquaman [Theater]: What a fantastic pile of epic action garbage. I loved it even though it had bad CG, plot holes galore and some of the weirdest action I can remember seeing in a movie. 7/10

BumbleBee [Theater]: Cute. That’s not a word I like to use to describe my robotic alien homeboy. But he really is. Not just cute- scrappy. The dude fights past his weight class. I really liked the Cybertron flashbacks w/ the G1 styling. Classic “bad guy is really a good guy” sub-plot. Fun, bu probablyt for younger audiences. 7/10

The “Helpful” Trap

This is a great read. At first the idea might seem terrible, but if you apply it to a mostly business-related perspective I think it works well.

Why I Stopped Helping People and You Should Too

Also, as much as I hate to say it, I think there are enough people out who are happy to take advantage of others’ time such that this article is warranted. I usually try and go out of my way to help friends, but I have cut back on what I’m willing to do for others. I think it has been beneficial for my own mental health.

Chevrolet C8 Corvette- Not Bad… Not Bad at All.

Wow. I wasn’t prepared for how awesome the new C8 turned out to be. A mid-engine Corvette that looks like a Ferarri and that starts under $60K? Bravo Chevrolet.

Thus far they have released the Stingray model (the basic coupe) and have rolled out a Z51 performance package. Despite “only” having 490 HP the performance statistics appear impressive (0-60 in less than three seconds). At some point Chevrolet will release a higher horsepower model (maybe a Z06?) and that’s when I’ll start taking a serious look again at the Corvette.

I really like the customization options Chevy is offering. A blue interior would be fun. Here are a few pictures from the configuration tool:

 

Razer Blade 15 4K OLED (2019). The Best Yet!

Here’s the reality: The new Razer Blade 15 4K OLED model isn’t much different from the last model I owned. The “only” changes are a better GPU, a slightly newer CPU, the 4K OLED screen and a small, but not unimportant, cosmetic upgrade. These revisions do not necessarily represent a good reason or value if you’re moving from the laptop I previously used (and for the record, that’s not why I migrate). However, if you’re fascinated with emerging technologies this is a laptop worth checking out.

Let’s start with the big one: The OLED screen. In a word: Wow. I have been watching television on a 60″ LG OLED TV for the past couple of months and it’s breathtaking. The 15″ 4K Samsung screen on the Razer is no less breathtaking and it’s difficult to believe how far screen technology has come (for some reason I’ve had the image of a CRT laptop stuck in my head for years).

The level of color richness is intense- maybe even a little exaggerated (which you could always adjust if you hated the insane level of beauty). To be fair the color on some LCD screens comes close, but in terms of contrast there’s just no contest. The Razer’s screen has no edge bleed and, when watching HDR content, the black screen is nearly indistinguishable from the bezel (this is an excellent OLED screen demo). Color evenness and brightness are excellent and my screen, so far as I can tell, is defect free (pixel density is so high I doubt a single dead pixel could be easily seen with the naked eye). Overall, a very solid win.

It’s not completely perfect thought. Past OLED panels have suffered from screen burn in. That’s a TBD issue at this point, but a computer screen has many static components (hey Windows bar, I’m looking at you). Also, while OLED screen are more energy efficient when showing black (as the pixel is effectively off) they consume more power than LCD counterparts when showing white. Thus far in my testing the new OLED Razer has shorter battery life than the my previous model. Finally, there is a strange, almost unnoticeable flickering effect when scrolling through dark images on a white background and even sometimes while typing or selecting text (I changed my screen to 59hz and turned off the screen refresh in the Intel graphics control panel- this seems to have eliminated the typing flicker which was my biggest concern).

Out of the box the Razer 15 ran a respectable 16463 in 3DMark’s Firesrike. After a RAM upgrade (16GB to 32GB) and an SSD swap (512GB to 2TB) the computer managed a 16108. This drop may be a software (driver) configuration issue – I had a hell of a time getting everything loaded back onto the computer and working so there’s a chance I messed something up somewhere. Still, this is a fairly mild performance drop and not something I’ll worry about too much while I work to sort it out. I ran the Firestrike test several times and, oddly, the score was better with the Razer Synapse performance modes set lower (follow up: after more tweaking this was not an ongoing issue).

Based on my very limited 3DMark testing the GPU is a solid step up (the RTX 2080 scored an 18912 vs the GTX 1070’s 15917). However the CPU-intensive physics score seems to take a significant hit compared to my previous computer’s performance (the i7-9750H posted a 14348 compared to the i7-8750H’s 16783). I definitely have some questions about what may cause this performance drop (I know Razer is undervolting the CPU but it shouldn’t affect the score this much). Overall the performance on this new Razer is more than sufficient for my needs. I’m not a huge gamer but I tried out my go-to favorite, Doom, at 4K and it played well and looked incredible- that contrast!

3DMark Follow Up: I changed a couple quick settings and I came up with this new run. The surprising thing here is that g-sync is on (or, at least, it thinks that it is). What’s even more surprising is that there’s no way to enable / disable g-sync in the Nvidia control panel (the “display” portion of the menu isn’t there). After fiddling with a few more setting I ended up with the following run. Bizarrely I didn’t get a g-sync warning and the while the graphic portion of the score is higher the CPU side of things has tanked a bit. I would love to understand what’s going on (tell me, dammit!).

So… what did Razer get right? It’s a big one for me because I work in the dark so often (physically and metaphorically). All of the keys are their respective functions are now backlit. It’s small modification but it will make things so much easier in low light situations.

Aside from the keyboard illumination this new Razer is nearly identical to it’s predecessor. Scratch that- it is identical. There’s very little point in covering it’s appearance, build quality, etc., because none of those aspects have changed. I will restate that it’s a beautiful looking laptop.

My gripes with the model are still the same as before. I’d like an SSD card reader and a network jack. I’d also like to see some better thermal control on the left side of the palm rest. When doing day to day tasks it heats up a bit warmer than the right side. This is not to say it’s uncomfortable, but the inconsistency is off-putting.

We’ve come a long way from my first Razer. In my opinion, the new Razer 15 4K OLED  (2019) is exceptional and, for the time being, about as close as you can get to a perfect portable workstation. The performance increase is respectable and the OLED screen is something you have to see to believe. No regrets on this one.

Model: Razer Blade 15 – Advanced Model
OS: Windows® 10 Home (64-bit)
Processor: 9th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-9750H 6 Core (2.6GHz/4.5GHz)
Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX™ 2080 with Max-Q Design (8GB GDDR6 VRAM)
Display: 15.6″ OLED 4K Touch 60Hz, 100% DCI-P3, HDR400, factory calibrated
Storage: 512GB SSD (NVMe) / Upgraded: 2TB Samsung SSD (NVMe)
Memory:16GB Dual-Channel (8GB x 2) DDR4 2667MHz / Upgraded: 32GB (16GB x 2)
Battery: 80Wh
Keyboard: Per-key RGB powered by Razer Chroma™
USB 3.2 Gen 2 (USB-A) x3, Thunderbolt™ 3 (USB-C)
Wireless: Intel® Wireless-AX200 (802.11/a/b/g/n/ac/ax), Bluetooth® 5
Webcam: Windows® Hello built-in IR HD webcam (1MP / 720P)
Finish: Black with backlit green logo and green USB ports
Dimensions: 0.70″ x 9.25″ x 13.98″ / 17.8mm x 235mm x 355mm
Weight: 4.83 lbs / 2.19 kg

Other Laptop Links:

Apple 520C
Apple 540C
Review: Pulse 17
Review: 2014 Razer Blade
Razer Blade Pro
Razer Blade 15 (2018)
Razer Blade Stealth (2019)

Antigravity Lithium Battery Install – Porsche 991 Turbo S

Freak, Cam. Is every post on your blog about some car crap! Hey, thanks for noticing. But it’s not just about cars- it’s about health. Many of you know I’m big into weight loss. I think this video may help people lose weight quickly and safely. It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change.

So you want to lose a bit of weight, eh? A lithium battery might be just what you need! They’re not cheap, but the weight reduction is legitimate. Spoiler: I knocked off forty three pounds by switching from a lead-acid to a lithium battery. Forty three pounds!  This video also demonstrates the removal & installation process of the battery in a Porsche 991 Turbo (as always it was more difficult than I thought it would be):

If you watched the video then you’ll know I had to do a bit of cosmetic surgery, but I’d call the operation a success. So far the battery works as advertised- weighs less, starts right up and the car drives great. I have negated he additional weight added by with methanol kit (& actual methanol) and my fire extinguisher. As I mentioned before, they are pricey, but a lithium battery is a pretty easy win!

7/13/2019: I decided to remove the battery when there’s no current concern about weight reduction. A couple of times in the last month I’ve had the PCM cut out followed by multiple dash errors (i.e. steering fault, PDCC fault, etc). I think this may be related to the battery but I’m not certain (seems like some type of power surge / drop). I removed it today and reinstalled my tune so we’ll see how things play out.

Antigravity H7 Lithium Battery
Guardian Tactical OTF

Rennline Fire Extinguisher Mount Install – Porsche 991

Safety first! I have never kept a fire extinguisher in any car I’ve owned. Even though I’ve never had a car fire I’ve often considered installing in some type of fire suppression device. With the addition of methanol into my car I figure I’d better not push my luck too and so…

I picked up a Rennline fire extinguisher mount for my 991 along w/ a 2.5 lb H&R Performance extinguisher w/ Halguard (if you’re interested you can get your own here). I opted for a Halguard model – this shoots out a fire suppression gas as opposed to a fine powder (not big on powders after I had a fire extinguisher blow up at work once).

The install was a bit more complicated than I imagined but I’m pleased with the results:

Helpful Hint: If you install a similar setup in your car I’d recommend a bit of practice. You’ll need to be able to release the holding clips and remove the extinguisher from its cradle quickly all while sitting in an adjacent seat. When fighting a fire, remember the P.A.S.S. acronym. Pull the pin. Aim at base (closer proximity is better). Squeeze the trigger. Sweep side to side. Hopefully you don’t have a fire in your car (or anywhere you don’t want one) but it never hurts to be prepared.

MACarbon Seat Belt Buckle Repair

These MACarbon seat belt buckles have been a bit of a headache for me. I had to modify the covers for the two rear buckles before they would fit. A recurring warning light forced me to replace the front passenger side buckle altogether. And then the new buckle promptly “broke” apart (the two parts of the housing separated and it’s much worse where the belt is attached and there’s tension). I’m not sure if I’d buy / install these parts again.

Regardless, I’m a guy that looks for solutions. The first thing I tried was epoxy. I glued the halves back together but they came apart again shortly after transporting a  passenger. I considered a number of different options before settling on some 3M adhesive- the same stuff you might cover the exterior of your car with. I cut out a couple of sections and did some test fitting.

Originally I had just intended the fitting to be temporary but the 3M seemed to be exceptionally strong and the installation went fairly well (you can see the lines in the pictures but in real life it’s very hard to see where the film is at all).

One of the back seat belt buckles also had a case that was coming apart so I applied the 3M there as well. I suppose my next step will be to see how well the film works over the coming months (I’m worried about its ability to stick and the potential of stretching). In the meantime this appears to be a quick and elegant solution for anyone with a similar problem (and not just limited to seatbelts folks– you can wrap this clear 3M film around pretty much anything).