Saturday, June 15, 2019

Upgrading Fedora 29 to 30

Did another upgrade from Fedora 29 to 30.  Didn't ran into any issues to report.  Very smooth upgrade process.

Update:  I noticed that Chrome now shows that it's "managed by your organization".  This message shows up if there are any chrome://policy defined.  Turns out Fedora 30 does install some policy.  To remove then:  'sudo dnf remove fedora-chromium-config'.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

eBags Professional Slim Long Term Review

I've been using the eBags Professional Slim as my every day carry (EDC) backpack for about a year and a half.  It is a well thought-out, high-quality and great value backpack that is great for techies and urban professionals.  I've not had any problems with it the 1.5 years that I've been using it for work and I would recommend it to others.  However, I am planning to change to another backpack soon for reasons not related to the backpack itself.

Nomatic Travel Pack Long Term Review

I've now had the chance to use my Nomatic Travel Pack (not to be confused with the Nomatic Travel Bag or Nomatic Backpack) on multiple trips (both domestic and international) so here is my long term review of this backpack.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Dragon Quest XI

For most of last year after playing Shadow of the Colossus there weren't really any games that captured my time as much as Nier:Automata and Persona 5.  I spent a short bit of time here-and-there on sports games such as NBA2K, Madden and NBA2K Playground, but it wasn't until X-mas time that I got Dragon Quest XI.  Now some 90 hours laters, I've reach the post-game portion of DQ.

Dragon Question XI is a very pure JRPG.  It sticks to the JRPG formula almost religiously.  If you like classic JRPGs then DQXI is for you!  If you don't like classic JRPGs then DQXI doesn't try to deviate in anyway to bring in new fans so you will probably still not like it with one exception.  If what turned you off from JRPGs is the XP grind then fortunately DQXI doesn't require it.  Just progressing through the game will generally keep you at the right levels and with just a little bit of time spent away from the main story line will get your characters to a level where the battles will be fairly easy to win.

DQXI is a fun game.  I didn't realize how much time was spent while I was playing.  It wasn't that I was so focused and absorbed but rather that the game moves along at a fairly light and fast pace.  I feel this was very intentional.  It seems very deliberate by the developer to have you enjoy the game and not try to fight the game.  Even the location of items (minus treasure chests) is available on the map so you don't have to search for them.  This is a game that tries very hard not to frustrate players.

The story is good and the characters are fine, but because of the way you interact with the other characters (which feels limited) I didn't feel as much of an attachment to them as I did to characters in Nier or Persona.  The characters were more like chess pieces to be use in different configurations when going into battle.  The graphics are nice and modern (in the sense that it's created for the current generation of consoles).

I wish the main character would express more emotions because he felt kind of like a robot, and the music was not very inspiring (I turned the volume of the music pretty low).  DQXI in Japan did not have any voice acting but they included the English dubs for the US release.  I turned it off and just read the text and experienced the game as it would've been in Japan (Note:  The japan release of DQXI on the Nintendo Switch will include Japanese voice acting.).

These are fairly minor and obviously if I have spent over 90 hours playing it that I felt it is a good game and worth playing especially if you are a fan of classic style JRPGs.

Nomatic Travel Pack and Peak Design Tech Pouch Hack

I've been intrigued by the Peak Design Tech Pouch (Amazon) because of its promise of "enormous spatial efficiency, letting you pack more into a smaller space while keeping your items neatly organized and easy to find."  For cables and small items like flash drives, cable adapters, etc. I've been using the Bagsmart Travel Organizer but for larger bulkier items like the laptop's power adapter, usb wall chargers, etc. I've been using the various organization pockets of my Nomatic Travel Pack backpack.  The main downside is to to get access to the larger items requires always having the backpack with me.  When traveling it becomes a bit cumbersome such when having to access the backpack on the plane.

The Nomatic doesn't have any external loops that is often found on other backpacks for hooking things onto but it does have two loops near the base for attaching its waist straps.  The Tech Pouch has two loops so I decided to attach the pouch to the backpack through these external loops.  This allowed me to not use any space inside the backpack and have easy access to the items.

When setting the backpack down, the pouch moves to the back so the backpack isn't sitting on top of it.

When the backpack is being carried the pouch falls underneath the backpack comfortably.

The pouch is not as wide as the backpack so to allow the carabiners to reach and allow enough slack for the pouch to move, I got a 12" tie down loop straps that I ran through the pouch's loops and attached the carabiners to the strap's loops.

The set up worked out very well.  When I was on the plane, I detached the pouch from the backpack (which I put in the overhead bin) to keep with me.  When I was at the office, I can access everything I needed from the pouch instead of going through the different backpack pockets and having to return everything back to their place in the backpack. 

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Upgrading to Fedora 29

Once again it is time to upgrade Fedora.  Not trouble at all with the upgrade and it went pretty fast.  Simply followed the instruction from Fedora Magazine.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

2B coming to to Soul Calibur VI

Looks like 2B from Nier: Automata is alive and well!  It's just been announced that 2B will be a playable character in the Soul Calibur VI!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

A Night of Bad Shows: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Elementary Season 6 Finale

I watched Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and the season 6 finale of Elementary on the same night.  I've generally liked the Jurassic movie franchise even though it deviated from the novel and I've been a fan of Elementary since it first aired.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World is terrible.  Every character from the villains to the kids were just different degrees evil or narcissists.  Ironically, in the movie the "bad" guy asks the protagonists how are they different and in this movie it is actually very easy to feel that they aren't different from each other.  In this movie there are no real protagonist/hero.  I don't know whether it is because this is a bridge episode to the final installment of the trilogy, but the characters show little empathy to each other and just focus on their own individual views.

It's hard to cheer for characters who care so little for others and can so easily throw away their moral values.  From the "nerd" who can just suddenly decide it's okay to kill another person to a vet who find it cool to be rude and a bully everyone it is really hard to find a likable character in this movie. The writers seem to only have two views: either you're with the dinosaurs or you're with people.

The irony continues since the movie actually starts with Jeff Goldblum's Ian Malcolm character explaining that it's not so black-and-white, but the movie and every character in it immediately ignores him.  The movie makes zero attempt to show that it's not black-and-white.  It completely ignores it and just moves forward with everyone making decisions for their own benefit.

Ultimately, the movie tries to distract you with action and tries to get audiences to develop emotional attachment through nostagia and sadness by killing the likable dinosaurs from the original Jurassic Park.  This alone says a lot about the movie... it is terrible.

Elementary Season 6 Finale

Similar to Fallen Kingdom, Elementary went out of its way to completely alienate one of its main characters in the season 6 finale, "Whatever Remains, However Improbable".  Elementary always pointed out the moral ambiguity of the decisions its character has to make, but it also dedicated time to show that such decisions were not taken lightly.  The show also emphasize loyalty and dedication to one another where family doesn't just mean related by blood.

In the season finale, some of the main characters from the show completely violates the tenants of the show.  From Watson's decision that would break apart her and Sherlock's partnership and then throwing it in Sherlock's face that if they were partners he should support her decision to Captain Grayson blaming Sherlock for all the bad things then throwing them under the bus, both took the easy path.

Only Sherlock and Marcus stayed true to their beliefs and recognized that the more difficult path was the right one and wasn't deterred from walking that path.  In their decisions, they came out being more noble in their characters which only made the contrast with Watson and Capt. Gregson's action more difficult to bear and accept.

The show seems like it'll be make numerous changes in season 7 especially as season 6 didn't end with any type of cliff hanger to tie the seasons together.  I hope, though, that it doesn't just abandon the fractured relationship from season 6 as fans have invested 6 years into these characters' relationship.  Although Elementary is a crime drama, the show is ultimately a show about relationship between people and the impact that one person can have on another.  It would be a shame if they just threw this all away so easily.

Nomatic Travel Pack First Trip

I previously wrote about my first impressions of the Nomatic Travel Pack and now I've had a chance to use it on a trip so here are my thoughts.

What I Like

In its non-expanded form, the Travel Pack external dimensions doesn't feel that much bigger then my everyday carry backpack.  It held everything that I normally bring along when traveling with little effect on the shape of the backpack.  It easily can fit under the seat on an airplane and it stayed upright without problems.

Access to the main compartments were good and accommodating since it provide access from either side and the top.

There are plenty of organizational pockets, pouches and compartments so everything had a place and stayed in place.

There are cable pass-throughs  between the main compartment, easy access pocket and the front compartment.  This allowed me to have my main battery in the inner side pockets of the main compartment then run a charging cable to the easy access pocket to charge my phone and to anything in the front compartment without having the cable getting exposed on the outside.  There is no pass-through to the laptop compartment unfortunately so I can't charge the tablet without running the cable along the outside.

It was comfortable to carry even when full.  For this trip, I didn't use the waist straps.

What Is So-So

The ability to open up the laptop compartment is meant for the convenience of going through TSA checkpoints faster without having to take out the laptop, but that only works because TSA wants to see the laptop unobstructed.  Having the tablet pocket on the side as the laptop meant that TSA will likely ask you to take one of them out so it kind of defeats the purpose.  If it is on the opposite side of the compartment like how the Atlas Everki has it then it will be more convenient.

The quick access pocket at the top is not very big and I found it to be a tight fit for my phone.  I really can't put much in there if I want the phone to be there.  Normally I'd like to stick my phone there when I go through airport security rather then leaving it in the bin where I might forget or make it easier for someone to snatch.

The water bottle holders were a tight squeeze especially if there are bulky items in the inner side pockets.  It does stretch so it does fit a typical water bottle but it's not easy to drop-in.  For me it was a two-handed operation.  I definitely missed the Everki in this area.

The hidden security pocket along the back of the backpack was also very tight.  It's good for paper money and other thin items but when I put in my wallet, I found it slightly cumbersome to fetch it back out.

The Travel Pack can hook onto your rolling luggage but it goes on sideways.  I'm not used to accessing items from the side but for the main compartment  it's fine.  For the quick access pocket and front compartment, it feels more awkward and I worried that something might fall out when I open the zipper.

The outside material feels more plastic-like then what I'm used to.

What is Silly

The main compartment has 4 zippers.  The two middle zippers can be locked together to prevent it from being opened.  The two outside zippers doesn't lock to anything so even if you locked the two middle zipper together, you can still get access to the main compartment with the two outer zippers.

Initial Thoughts

Overall, the Travel Pack performed as advertised.  When I first packed it and when through the security checkout, I wasn't as happy with it but it grew on me as I traveled.  I had to adjust a bit with how I organize and access items.  I would probably sacrifice a bit of form for function such as the bottle holder pocket from the Everki (see comparison between the Everki and TLS here), a bigger quick access pocket and being able to hook to luggage up-right instead of sideways.

I'm not a 1-bag traveler where I would just use one bag to store everything so I don't expect to use it in expanded form much, but even in its normal form there was plenty of space for additional stuff in the main compartment that I didn't use on this trip.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

My Essential Travel Gear for Family Vacation

As the tech dad, I'm responsible for making sure that the family has all the tech gear needed while on vacation.  In this post, I describe the essential items I bring to meet the demands of the family and minimize my work cause this is the blog of a lazy hacker...