Saturday, December 30, 2017

Movie Review: Downsizing (2017) is Dull and Bores with Global Warming


Downsizing: Don't Think that it is a Fun Movie

A friend and I went to see the movie Downsizing (2017). It was between this movie and All the Money in the World (2017). My friend decided that the Downsizing movie would be less of a downer (less depressing) and that it would be a fun and lighthearted movie. Boy, was he wrong. It is not a comedy. It is a dull and depressing movie about how the Earth will end at the hands of methane gas due to Global Warming.

This movie was dull and depressing and boring. The movie was disappointing and I will tell you why.

The following contains spoilers.

The Downsizing Trailer is Misleading

First of all, if you get the impression that the movie Downsizing is a fun and lighthearted movie from the trailer, then you are sadly mistaken.

I thought the movie was going to be similar to Honey I Shrunk the Kids (1989), in that they would exploring the nuances of being shrunk and small in comparison to the rest of the world. Downsizing is not like this at all. There are only a few moments in the movie where this happens.

First, Matt Damon plays lead character Paul Safranek. He is an occupational therapist that is a middle class guy working in Omaha Steaks in the Midwest. So he and his wife agree to be shrunk so they can multiply their wealth (the small lifestyle requires less money to life and the money goes farther).

So we get to see the process of Paul Safranek getting shrunk. They have to remove all of his hair from his body, and all of the fillings from his mouth. This is because any non-living tissue would stay the real size, and kill the person during the shrinking process.

Downsizing: Only a Few References to Being Small

Here are the following references in the movie to being small:

The opening speaker: Dr. Jorgen Asbjørnsen 
In the movie, it starts with the guy that invents the shrinking process. Dr. Jorgen
He speaks to a group of people, and they are impressed with the small footprint that a tiny person creates.

The high school  reunion: This the second encounter when a couple from high school is carried into the reunion in a glass box.

After Paul Safranek is shrunk, and handed over from the normal size nurse to the minature nurses, the normal nurse is chatting with the minature nurses. This is one example of the cross reference between large and small. The next example is when Paul Safranek wakes up, the nurse shows him a pack of large Saltine crackers, and mentions how cute that is. After this, the only other reference to them being small is when they travel on a bus, because normal size people and miniatures can travel on the same bus.

Aside from the examples given above, the movie imagery veers heavily from the whole premise of being small. After about the halfway mark of the movie, they do not show any more size comparisons or normal to miniature comparisons.

Downsizing Stays Depressing Throughout the Movie

The overarching them throughout the movie Downsizing is Global Warming. This is no secret. From the start of the movie, Dr. Jorgen and his colleagues present their process at a conference in Turkey.

Then we go into the future. This happens quite a bit throughout the movie. Five Years Later. One Year Later. Five Years Later. etc. This is just one sign that the movie can't tell a continuous story about anything interesting.

Overall, the movie is quite depressing. Paul Safranek is taking care of his sick mother. Paul Safranek is not able to buy the house his wife really wants. Paul Safranek's wife divorces him because she gets cold feet when about to be shrunk. Lastly, Dr. Jorgen says that methane has been released at the Antarctic and the Earth will no longer sustain life.

In terms of a positive uptick in the movie, the only positive is that Paul Safranek falls in love with a Vietnamese refugee, and this takes up the majority of the second half of the movie. He says that he finally understands his purpose in life, and wants to go with the original small community underground for thousands of years. However, he changes his mind at the last minute, because he is in love with the Vietnamese refugee woman.

I found myself wondering: "How much longer will this movie last?" many times, and the movie seemed to drag on. It failed to deliver.

To sum it all up, this movie is not a lighthearted comedy movie about being shrunk. It is a heavily political movie focused on the effects of Global Warming hysteria.

Regardless of your stance on Global Warming, this movie felt incomplete and disjointed at best. I left the movie feeling unsatisfied. I would not willingly want to watch this movie ever again. That would be torture. It's that bad.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

iPhone X Error: iPhone Activation Server Temporarily Unavailable

iPhone X 10th Anniversary Edition

Users Cannot Activate the iPhone X: Server Temporarily Unavailable

Numerous reports indicate that customers that purchased the new iPhone X are having trouble activating their phones. MSN reports that this is affecting AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon users.

The error message that they are receiving is: "The activation server is temporarily unavailable."

There is an Apple discussion board for this issue. On there it states there a user that reported getting this message:

"Your iPhone could not be activated because the activation server is temporarily unavailable. Try connecting your iPhone to iTunes to activate it, or try again in a couple of minutes. If this problem persists, contact Apple Support at:"

See the following message from @dasmart on Twitter:

Next is what Apple suggests if you are experiencing this issue on your iPhone X. Keep in mind this is a standard type of troubleshoot message, much like "rebooting your PC" or "power cycling your modem"

More importantly, the true solution to this problem (other than contacting Apple Support) is to wait. Once Apple is aware of the issue, they work hard to resolve the issue, and will eventually get the server up and running again. They do not want dissatisfied customers leaving bad feedback on social media.

Let's see what the other blogs are saying.

iGeeksBlog suggests doing the following:
1. Wait
2. Restart
3. Lock/Unlock SIM Status
4. Wifi/Network Issues
5. iTunes
6. Restore
7. Talk to your Carrier/Apple Care
Source: iGeeksblog

Same Message Received on Older iPhones 

Apple Stack Exchange revealed a similar message to a user, that reported a problem 4 years ago. They state:

"My iPhone 5 that has been running iOS 7 since beta 1 suddenly wants to be activated. When locked, it shows me my wallpaper. After sliding to unlock, it asks for my passcode. When I enter it, it takes me straight to the 'Activate iPhone' page - like it wants to be set up."

The message that this user received was the following:
"Your iPhone could not be activated because the activation server is temporarily unavailable. Try connecting your iPhone to iTunes to activate it, or try again in a couple of minutes."

Apple Stack Exchange Identifies the Problem for the iPhone 5

The two major causes of this are:
1. Network related - change the network used to connect
2. iOS related - something is amiss with the code signing / provisioning

The most likely cause of software is a beta. Apple disables the iOS betas soon after the release happens. If you never manually installed the official release, this can happen. If not, consider backing up your device after checking a couple networks and reinstalling.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review: Was it a Flop?

Blade Runner 2049
Blade Runner 2049 (2017) is a long movie. 163 minutes, to be exact. This is my critique of the movie. I would not rank the movie as a flop movie - in my own opinion - however in terms of opening weekend sales, the movie grossed $32.8 million the first weekend, and cost an estimated $150 million, according to this Variety article. If you measure by how much it made versus how much it cost to make, then it would be considered a "flop".

The following review contains spoilers.

Blade Runner 2049 (2017) is rated R, and is not appropriate for children.

What is a Blade Runner and what are Replicants?

The movie follows a LAPD Blade Runner named "K" (played by Ryan Gosling) - K being the first letter of his serial number, because K is a replicant, and most replicants are not given human names. It isn't explained the reason the significance of the title "Blade Runner" but we know one thing, Blade Runner's seek out replicants and kill them. Replicants are bioengineered/synthetic humans that are superior to humans in physcal strength.

Visually, replicants in this movie, looked just like humans. Even when replicants are hurt, they bleed like humans, but they do not feel pain in the same manner as humans.

Blade Runner 2049 (2017) - The Movie Summarized

On screen, we learn that the Tyrell Corporation was in business to create replicants, mostly to farm and do labor. This company has gone bankrupt.The current replicant manufacturer is now a company ran by Niander Wallace (played by Jared Leto). The name of Wallace's head replicant is Luv, and carries out of all the orders given by Wallace. In the 2017 Blade Runner, the older model replicants are considered rogue, and must be destroyed by the LAPD Blade Runner.

LAPD Blade Runner K seeks out a replicant at his farm home to kill him. The man is a brute size (played by former wrestler Dave Bautista), and K must fight him in his home. The replicant says that K hasn't seen miracles. K kills him and takes his eyeball as proof of his kill. As he is leaving, he notices a real flower that has been plucked out of the ground, lying at the base of a dead tree.

This prompts K to have his police drone to scan the ground and a depth scan down into the ground. He discovers a buried crate. The crate contains bones of a replicant, and the police Medical Examiner finds evidence that this female replicant had a baby.

Police Lieutenant Joshi - K's boss - directs K to investigate and find the child of this replicant, because the public must not ever find out that replicant's can bear children.

As K digs deeper and deeper into the investigation, he recalls a memory that was implanted into his mind. That memory was inside what looks to be an industrial-type factory. Children are chasing what we think is small boy K, trying to steal his wooden horse. He hides the horse in a pile of ashes, and the children beat him mercilessly (the memory ends).

K recalls this memory for Lieutenant Joshi at her order to tell her a memory. Later in the movie, he must go to a children's orphanage, where he stands at the setting of this memory. He goes and finds the wooden horse, which then makes him believe that he was the one born to the replicant woman, and that the memory was a real one.

K seeks out a woman that is known for creating fake memories for replicants. The idea is that replicants with memories have more human-like emotions to make them more real. She is about his age, and lives in a bubble due to an autoimmune sickness.

K shares his memory with her, and she confirms it is a real memory. She tears up and says that the memory really happened. K leaves her angry. Why did the woman tear up, and how does she know this is a real memory. The only plausible explanation is that this was her memory. Because she was dressed up as a little boy at the orphanage to hide her identity. It is also a crime to implant real memories into replicants. The only explanation that he shares this memory, is that K is really her brother.

K goes back home and tells his holographic lover about the whole thing (minus the theory that the woman is his sister), and she insists that since he is human, then he should have a human name of "Joe". She also invites a replicant prostitute to the apartment, so that she can sync with her and make love to K. The prostitute puts a tracking bug in K's jacket.

He goes back to Lieutenant Joshi. She tells him that someone has come in and killed the medical examiner and stolen the bones of the replicant woman. He then tells her that he found out the truth. She takes his gun and badge and tells him he has a limited window before they come looking for him.

K returns home to his holographic girlfriend and packs to leave. He deletes his girlfriend from the apartment console so they cannot get any information from her. She then exists entirely on a data stick.

K then drives to the site of Las Vegas, now just ruins and empty buildings. He does a scan and finds a sign of life - bees. He then walks into a building and starts to look around, where he meets Matt Deckard (played by Harrison Ford). They fight at first, but then Deckard let's him go back to his home, where they eventually talk about Deckard's wife, Rachel. Rachel gave birth to a human/replicant baby. Wallace is set on finding out the secrets of how Tyrell Corporation created replicants that could conceive babies.

Luv and her entourage then crash the party, ambushing K and Deckard. Luv steps on K's data stick and kills his holographic love, then takes Deckard away to find out more information. Wallace attempts to interrogate Deckard, but to no avail. Wallace then decides to take Deckard off world, to torture him and get the information. As Luv and her entourage are heading off world, K finds them in his flying vehicle and force them to land in a watery location, like under a bridge.

A fight ensues. K wins. Luv is suffocated underwater. K and Deckard fly to where the daughter is - to the memory maker that lives in a bubble. Deckard goes in, while K dies on the steps of the entrance.

Critiques of the Movie

1. The movie is too long. At 2 hours, 43 minutes, it has some trouble keeping interest due to some slower and unnecessary scenes
2. The movie has this pulsating futuristic sound effect that is overplayed
3. Niander Wallace get too much screen time. Jared Leto has some crazy lenses over his eyes, and does have a creator type of feel to him, but his character is not pivotal. Let me explain: His character was not the one to die, it was Luv. He had a scene where a new version of a replace is "birthed" and he goes to "examine" her in a room. He takes a scalpel and slices her stomach open because he is angry that he cannot figure out how to make replicants that can birth children. His other scene is where he attempts to get Deckard to talk by bringing out a copy of Rachel, but he gets the eye color wrong. The way Jared Leto enunciates the words as Niander is very presidential, but does not seem to fit the character (in my opinion)
4. The love scene with a prostitute syncing with his girlfriend hologram was gratuitous and not needed to progress the story along.
5. K knows that he is a replicant and that his only memory has been implanted, but then thinks at one point that he was born. I find it hard to believe that you wouldn't know if you have lived as a child (by the memories you would have).

Some Things I Liked

1. The movie touches on the emptiness of life without a spiritual existence (i.e. miracles, a soul, love)
2. The futurist LAPD Peugot flying car and the drone that was in the roof of it
3. During a flyover of Los Angeles, the plots of land appeared to be very futuristic and all covered by buildings that may be covered with solar panels - it was very thought provoking
4. There is beautiful visual cinematography that really captures a dystopian world - particularly the west coast US of Los Angeles and Las Vegas

Why was Blade Runner 2049 a Flop?

According to this Forbes article, Blade Runner 2049 was a flop because it would only appeal to nerds that had some knowledge of the original movie. In my case, I saw it because I thought it looked worth seeing from the trailer, and I have not seen the original movie.

Therefore, I cannot answer the question: "Was Blade Runner 2049 better than the original movie?"

The official page of Blade Runner 2049 can be viewed here

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Harambe Gorilla Cheeto sells on eBay for $99,900; Others Sell their Cheetos

Harambe Gorilla sells on eBay for $99,900

Would you be surprised to learn that a gorilla shaped Cheeto from a bag of Flamin' Hot Cheetos sold on eBay for $99,900?

eBay seller "valuestampsinc" listed "Gorilla Hot Cheetos - RARE - One of a Kind Cheetos - Harambe Gorilla"

The Real Harambe the Gorilla was not so Fortunate

You may recall that the real Harambe (the 400 lb. Gorilla) had to be put down during a kidnapping in 2016 at the Cincinatti Zoo after grabbing a 4 year-old child and violently dragging him around his enclosure.

Cheeto Winning Bidder on eBay Received Free Standard Shipping

The seller started the bidding at $11.99 and the price increased from there until the Harambe Gorilla Cheeto reached $99,900. The auction attracted a reported 132 bids, and finally closed on February 7, 2017 at 3:45 a.m. User valuestampsinc sold it out of Burbank, CA. The winning buyer even received free standard shipping.

Even More Strange Cheeto Auctions on eBay

Since the sale of Harambe the Gorilla, others are flocking to eBay to sell their Cheetos. 

User "2cutechicksboutique" is selling "Cheetos shaped like Statue of Liberty" with a Buy It Now price of $1,000. This listing was active as of February 7, 2017. View it below.

Statue of Liberty shaped Cheeto
User "cheapvaluables" is selling "OBO-CHEETO-Looks Like THE HEISMAN TROPHY Shaped-UNIQUE-FRITO-LAY-ONE OF A KIND" on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $495. View it below.

Heisman Trophy shaped Cheeto on eBay

Another user, "game911over" is selling "Unique Flying Superman Cheeto Collectors Item Original Cheeto Unusual L@@k" on eBay with a Buy It Now Price of $5,000. View it below.

This listing is somewhat unique as he puts this in the description:

Unique original Cheeto. Nothing altered on it. Original shape straight from the bag. 
Looks like a Unique Flying Superman Cheeto , you don't even need a description, 
you can see his arms out, the head the nose, legs out and cape, very unusual shape. 
If you like collecting weird stuff or like superheroes then this is for you. Just trying to get 
money to pay for my fathers funeral, he just died unexpectedly at the age of 58 and 
didn't have life insurance, he was a hero to me and my and his grandchildren. God bless. 
Superman shaped Cheeto for sale on eBay

Saturday, January 07, 2017

2017 College Football Playoff National Championship: Alabama vs. Clemson

2017 College Football National Championship Alabama and Clemson

As far as college football goes, there is nothing bigger than the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship. On Monday, January 9, 2017, it will be between Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

Head Coaches and Mild Alabama Offensive Coordinator Controversy

Nick Saban coaches the Alabama Crimson Tide, and Dabo Swinney coaches the Clemson Tigers. Some controversy may be said of the Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, who accepted a job as the head coach of Florida-Atlantic University, and will not be on the field for this National Championship game. His replacement is Steve Sarkisian, who will be coaching on the sidelines, and this is the first time he has called plays since 2014 and being clean from alcohol abuse. Sarkisian took a break from coaching to undergo rehab for substance/alcohol abuse. The Los Angeles times has reported many alcohol incidents during his head coaching at Washington. In comparison, when Kirby Smart was announced as Georgia's head coach, he finished out the post-season play as Alabama's defensive coordinator before assuming his new position at Georgia.

2017 College Football Playoff National Championship: Alabama vs. Clemson

Monday night's game is a rematch between two talented college football programs. As Dabo Swinney said after his win over Ohio State, Clemson has set itself up as an elite football program. And most fans of college football would agree that Alabama is already the best college football program in the nation, seeing post season play almost every year, thanks to the coaching from Nick Saban, and the great athletes that are recruited by his program.

As you can see below, Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney are both in the top three for coaches with the best win percentage for coaches at the same school since 2008 (ESPN).

Statistic: If Alabama wins on Monday night against Clemson, it will be the first team in college football history to finish a football season 15-0 (wins/losses). Source: SEC Country

Alabama Crimson Tide's Biggest Threat is Deshaun Watson

Alabama's biggest threat in Monday night's game is the Clemson quarterback, Deshaun Watson. Last year, he was able to score 40 in Clemson's loss to Alabama. Deshaun was able to throw for 405 yards, with only 1 interception, and he ran the ball for 73 yards.

Alabama's defensive play forces the opposing team's quarterback of playing a perfect game, and Deshaun Watson is capable of playing great under pressure.

Steve Sarkisian needs to run the ball more than Lane Kiffin

While Jalen Hurts has been playing exceptionally well for a true freshman quarterback, Alabama fans are voicing that they want to see Steve Sarkisian run more plays that involve Bo Scarbrough, Damien Harris, and Joshua Jacobs in running the ball down the field.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Review: Coup is a Fun Game App in the Google Play Store

Want to know a fun game app in the Google Play store?

Over the holidays, I discovered a game in the Google Play store: the game Coup.

Coup app icon

The app is available in the Google Play store is based on a board game of deception and manipulation. This app game is essentially a card game, and is all about bluffing, and learning how to bluff successfully.

The game is free to download. There are in-game purchases available, but not necessary to play.

The game consists of five character cards:

  1. Duke card - the Duke draws a tax of 3 coins, and cannot be blocked or challenged.
  2. Captain card - the Captain can steal 2 coins, and can be blocked by the the Captain or Ambassador card.
  3. Contessa card - Contessa can block an Assassination
  4. Assassin card - in exchange for 3 coins, the Assassin can attempt an assassination. The Assassin can be blocked by only Contessa character card.
  5. Ambassador card - the Ambassador can exchange 1 or 2 cards from the player's hand, and allow the player to choose from the next 2 cards drawn

Coup Gameplay

Each player has a total of 15 cards in the deck. Each character appears 3 times in the deck The player is drawn 2 random cards to start with in their hand.

You then can bluff or truthfully choose how you want to play based on the character cards' abilities, or you can draw 1 coin if you choose. There is a motivation to get to 7 coins. Once you reach 7 coins, you can press the "Coup" button, and force the player to reveal 1 card. A Coup cannot be blocked.

If you have an Assassin, you must have 3 coins in order to use the Assassin card.

You have 1:30 to play your turn, unless you are in a challenge period.

If you choose to only tell the truth, then logic could reveal your cards to the other player.

After you successfully accomplish certain tasks, the game awards you with badges that you can display on your Coup profile picture.

Coup Tips

  1. Plan on bluffing. The game requires you to bluff to be successful.
  2. If you do not have the Duke, but want to collect tax, start bluffing in Round 1 (your first turn)
  3. If you have a card, but want the other player to think your bluffing, play it at an odd time
  4. If you are in a challenge period of 30 sec., you can hesitate to play, but it will look like you do not have the card if you do this. You can hesitate to make the other player think you don't have the card.
  5. You can use chat features to communicate pre-selected phrases and taunts to the other player. Use these strategically while playing.

Screenshot of Coup app
Disclaimer: The author of this blog post was not paid in any way for this blog post, and wrote it out of pure interest.

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