One Line Movie Reviews – May 2019

I watched several movies on the Utah trip flights, so it’s a good time to review everything I’ve watched over the last month or two.

Unicorn Store

I guess it was a feel-good movie about following your dreams, but I only picked it because I had watched Captain Marvel a week or two before.

Creed II

Solid addition to the Rocky series.

Breaking In

Do not get between a mother and her children.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Never really knew much about Queen before watching this and I really loved all of the music in the movie.

Avengers: Endgame

I managed to avoid spoilers for a week while I was out-of-town and was not disappointed in how they brought everything together for this chapter of the story.

The Highwaymen

Costner and Harrelson forme a great team in this incredible story.

Favorite Buys of 2017

In no particular order, here are some of my favorite 2017 purchases. Links are included where appropriate.

Cardboard Cutter

I’ve bought a lot of tools this year, but this might be my favorite. Works great for breaking down boxes to put in the recycle bin. Can be used for detailed work when creating models as well. Much easier to use than a utility knife. Goes for $6-7 on Amazon.

Digital Calipers

I use these all the time. You can can measure insides, outsides, and depths and switch between inches, inch fractions, and metric. I wouldn’t go too cheap, which may sacrifice accuracy. I got mine from Amazon on Prime Day and plan to pick up a shorter set as well.

HackerBoxes Subscription

I started out with an AdaBox subscription and later found the HackerBoxes subscription. I would say AdaBox is aimed more at beginners (no soldering required) and the components are higher quality, but HackerBoxes is usually more challenging and exciting. I also like getting a box each month, which keeps me learning more and coming back to electronics if I drift off a bit.

hackerbox-0021.jpg

mini French Press

If you’re not grinding beans and using a brewing method similar to a French Press you’re probably settling for low quality coffee. This mini press is $8 at IKEA and is the perfect size for my one cup per day.

iPhone X

I’m still loving this iPhone. Face ID is a game changer and works really well for a first version. The user interface changes made possible (and necessary) after removing the home button are a huge improvement over previous iPhones. No regrets getting the X instead of an 8 Plus.

Oscillating Spindle Sander

I bought this from a guy (found on Craig’s List) when I went to buy his planer. I feel like I stole it when all he wanted was $50, which included 3 extra sets of sanding sleeves. Nobody enjoys sanding, so every machine that speeds up that process is worth the money.

Impact Driver

I basically stole this well, getting it with a set of several other used Craftsman battery tools. It probably come out to about $10. I was excited when I learned how to use a power drill clutch, but an impact driver does all of that automatically. Plus it pretty much eliminates slipping, so the days of stripping screws are gone.

YI 4K Action Camera

Much cheaper than a GoPro and it does all of the same stuff. I got mine (both of them) from Amazon. Yep, I said both. 😦 After I cracked my first one and replaced the screen, the crack eventually spread and the mounting threads came out.

Magnetic Parts Holders

I use these in my workshop and at my hobby desk. I think I have 5 of them now, because they are that useful. The base is magnetic making it easy to attach to something and the magnetic tray is great for holding on to your screws as you work on something. They’re only $2.99 at Harbor Freight, but I haven’t paid for a single one because you can get them for free with a coupon.

Playstation Vue

A great streaming TV service with cloud DVR. I’ve been using this for a year now and don’t miss cable at all. The service has improved a lot since my free trial and the Apple TV app hasn’t locked up or skipped a beat in months.

Bright

Netflix really hyped this for the last month or two. I guess they had to when it is the most expensive movie they’ve produced.

I don’t think I’ve watched a movie with orcs, elves, and magic set in a modern-day location like Los Angeles. I enjoyed it and am glad to see they’ve already ordered a sequel.

The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods

book-the-big-miss

I bought this book when it came out in 2013 and until a few months ago it had been untouched on my Kindle. It’s hard to believe it was over 4 years ago and Tiger’s crash (pun intended) was even earlier. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to read it.

I’d been a Tiger Woods fan since his historic 1997 win at the Masters. In fact, I almost never watch a golf tournament unless he is playing. The excitement just isn’t there for me unless he’s in contention, which was pretty much every tournament he played for over a decade.

Through the book, Hank Haney gives us a lot of insight into Tiger’s personality. Many things make a lot more sense. At the same time, the book is one man’s view of Tiger. No matter what I read, at the end of the day, I’m still a fan of Tiger Woods the golfer.

If you’re a golf fan or even just a sports fan, I recommend reading this book. You’ll get a rare look into what it’s like working with one of the greatest professional athletes in history.

Steve Jobs

Steve_Jobs_by_Walter_Isaacson

I finished reading the biography by Walter Isaacson, which I started about a month ago during my trip to Bulgaria. I really enjoyed the book.

As shown throughout the pages, he wasn’t always easy to work for, live with, or be around, and you definitely didn’t want to piss him off. We’ll never understand what he was really like by reading stories in a book, but it does help to explain a side of Jobs we wouldn’t know existed since most of us only ever saw him during Apple events.

You can’t have a biography about Steve Jobs without a major focus being on Apple and the products he brought to market. It was neat to read how many of these devices got started, were developed, and eventually launched.

Steve Jobs was a genius and a visionary who changed our world. He is the definition of Think Different, which was later adapted in a tribute about him…

Review: “Spartan Up!”

spartan-up

A few months ago I received an email from Dan at Spartan Race asking if I’d like a copy of this book that Joe (founder of Spartan Race) had written. Dan explained “This is not a book about racing, but uses the race as a metaphor for life – life is the ultimate obstacle course.” Hell yeah! Sounded right up my alley. I ran a Spartan Race outside of Phoenix last winter with a bunch of friends from CrossFit Full Strength so I know just how hard the races can be.

I finally got around to reading the book on my way to Barcelona last month and easily finished it before the plane was very far over the Atlantic Ocean. I thoroughly enjoyed the book because I share a lot of Joe’s thoughts about being successful in life. During the read, I took a couple of pictures of some quotes I wanted to share.

In life, the biggest obstacle, the tallest wall, can be imaginary. It can exist only in your mind. Some people stay stuck to one spot for years because they are paralyzed by the fear of change. They may be stuck on the couch. They may be stuck in a dead-end relationship. They may be stuck in a lousy career. They are stuck in a prison of their own design.

We’ve been conditioned to think that we as a society should spend tremendous resources eliminating obstacles from our lives, rather than teaching people how to surmount them. “Easy” is the greatest marketing hook of all time. Six-pack abs? Easy, buy this gizmo. Great physique? Easy, take this pill. Want people to notice you? Easy, plastic surgery.

Not only are people afraid of change, they are afraid of hard work. Achieving a 6-pack is a great example. I can’t tell you how many times I get asked for the secret. I’ll let you in on the secret…there is no secret. You have to work hard through diet and exercise to get down to 14-16% body fat (for men) and then if you go on a strict Paleo diet for an entire month, I’m confident anyone can get washboard abs. I have one friend in particular who asks me for tips and advice at least once a month. I tell him the same thing every damn time, but he can’t make it longer than a couple of days of strict eating before he comes up with some excuse.

It reminds me of the quote that goes something like, “If you want to achieve results you’ve never had, you must be willing to work harder than you even have.” I guess I’m lucky to have been brought up with my Dad teaching me to work hard.

I’m concerned with the havoc that repeatedly failing the cookie test can wreak on your life. All we have each day is that day, and we’re not even guaranteed all twenty-four hours. The first cookie test you encounter each day comes when you wake up. If you decide to stay in bed for a while, you’ve already taken the cookie. But if you jump out of bed and embark upon a productive day, you postpone gratification until you’ve gained a head start. I’m convinced that the best way to start the day is with vigorous exercise. Grab a workout first thing, and it improves everything that follows. Do it every day, habitually, and you will change your life profoundly for the better.

The “cookie test” Joe refers to was an experiment from the 1960s. Very interesting stuff. Here’s a short video that explains the basics idea of it.

When I read this part of the book, I couldn’t stop thinking about how people wake up in the morning. It can tell you a lot about a person. If you use an alarm, do you hit the snooze button? How many times? Do you turn off the alarm and end up falling back asleep? In my opinion, people who repeatedly hit snooze are lazy. You don’t get any meaningful sleep in that extra 9 minutes, especially if you keep repeating the process. My brain can’t comprehend why someone wouldn’t get in the habit of setting their alarm to the latest possible time they can afford to wake up, in order to get some extra quality sleep instead of 9 minute chunks of interrupted “sleep”.

There are many other great sections of the book, but those were two that instantly spoke to me. “Spartan Up!” is a great book with many valuable lessons. I really like how Joe started Spartan Race as a way to get people started on a new path in life and I know it can work. I was a bit stuck myself at one point and then I found CrossFit. If you’re feeling stuck, get with some friends and sign up for a 5k, a mud run, or something that puts a little fear into you. Spartan the fuck up!

Also check out this episode of the Barbell Shrugged podcast with Joe De Sena.

Review: Poker Ace Portable Tournament Director

Do your run poker tournaments at home? Do you also play in these tournaments? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to both questions, you know how much work it can be to keep track of time, blinds, and everything else while still trying to concentrate on playing poker. The Poker Ace Portable Tournament Director (PTD) will make your life much easier and make your poker tournaments more enjoyable.

Poker Ace Portable Tournament Director

The first thing you’ll see when turning on the PTD are two options:

  • Start New Tournament
  • Set Preferences

I chose preferences right away and was presented with:

  • Backlight
  • Brightness
  • Contrast

Not a whole lot to configure as far as the preferences go. It took me a few button presses to figure out which buttons actually changed an option and which one moved to the next option. The button use here was actually very confusing and the opposite of what you’d expect it to be.

After selecting to start a new tournament you’re presented to choose from one of 10 structures. Eight of the structures are preset (but still editable) and two of them are for storing user configured tournament structures.

Once a tournament structure is selected, you’ll be prompted to choose:

  • # of players
  • Buy in
  • Addons
  • Rebuys
  • Rebuys/Addons end of level

The next screen to come up is the payout structure, which is editable just as the tournament structure details are. Finally after everything is set you’ll be prompted to start the tournament. As soon as you press a button, the timer will begin and PTD goes to work. The screen displays the level, time remaining for the level, current blinds, next blinds, ante, and how much time is left during the rebuy period. During the last 10 seconds a beep will come from the device every second as a warning.

What didn’t I like?

I didn’t think the device is very user friendly. I mentioned the button use during the Preferences screen earlier in the review, but there were several times when I didn’t know which button to press. For example, when ending a tournament, the screen displays “Are you sure you want to end tournament?” but it doesn’t give any options such as Yes or No. Also, when I first was choosing a tournament structure I couldn’t figure out how to edit anything, so I had to consult the manual and found the Edit option was all the way at the bottom of a long list on the screen. This should be at the top. Using a device such as this should be as intuitive as possible and the manual should be a last resort, not required reading. A little more time spent on User Interface design and the manual wouldn’t even be needed.

The buttons don’t always bring up the next screen or change an option right away.

The beep used during the last 10 seconds of a level is not nearly loud enough. I tested the PTD by myself in quiet room and I could barely hear the beeping. If you’re playing a tournament with any kind of noise at all, you’ll need to have the PTD strapped to your ear to hear it.

Overall

The Poker Ace PTD – Portable Tournament Director is a great little device to use for your poker tournaments. The biggest challenges using the device are during setup, which can be done well before a tournament. The PTD runs for $49.99 at the Poker Ace PTD web site. I think it’s very good value for the time and hassle it will save you during a tournament.

Anti-Glare Film Set for iPhone

The Anti-Glare Film Set from Power Support is a must have for iPhone owners. The regular price is $14.95, but I bought mine yesterday at the MacWorld Expo for $10 out-the-door.

Two “films” come in the package. They are easy to remove, can be cleaned, and reused. The film isn’t sticky or “shrink wrapped” onto the phone like a lot of the screen covers. It simply uses static cling to stay in place. I’m not sure how well this will work over time, but it’s been great for a day. It literally took me longer to open the package then it did to get it on my iPhone correctly.

In addition to protecting the glass screen from being scratched, the film has a matte finish which does a great job at preventing glare. More importantly though, it keeps fingerprints from taking over your view and I think it makes the multi-touch display even easier to use. My fingers no longer get hung up due to the oils and sweat on my skin coming into contact with the glass.

I am in no way affiliated with the company and have not been compensated in any way to write this review.