Rampage is loosely based off one of my favorite childhood games. I remember playing this game hours on ends on the Sega Master System.  Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays the titular role in saving the world.  Unlike other movies based on video games Rampage is a fun and exciting through and through.  If you’re looking for a fun giant-monster movie this is it even if you never play the game.  I wouldn’t be surprise if a sequel is in the works.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Surface Book 2 “15 Review

During the fall of last year I needed a new laptop and I was doing a lot of research and decided to go with the new Macbook Pro 15″.  I chose it mainly for the build quality, battery life, and it’s ability to be able to run Windows if I needed it to.  But as it turns out I ended up needed to be in a Windows environment more than I was expected.  Running Windows 10 via Bootcamp didn’t have the battery life I needed, and running it as a virtual machine via VMWare Fusion didn’t have the smooth performance I wanted.

On to the Surface Book 2 review, so I picked this up several weeks ago and I couldn’t be more happier with my choice.  The build quality is excellent and the battery life is great.  Prior to my stint with the Macbook Pro I was using a Thinkpad W520. It was a large portable workstation that I used for about 7 years.  Everything about the Surface Book 2 blows it away.

The 15″ screen is amazing. The 3:2 aspect ratio is great for productivity work.  I work on large spreadsheets, multiple Powerpoint files, and the occasional retro gaming, just to name a few, and the SB2 screen makes the whole experience more enjoyable. The screen is bright and sharp and I can easily use it in bright environments without any problems.

The battery life on the SB2 is exceptional. It’s likely due to it running on the Intel 8th Gen U series processor that is 15 Watt TDP instead of the 7th Gen H series that is 45 Watt TDP as used in the  latest Macbook Pro “15.  I’ve never had a chance to run down the battery completely to get the full battery life time, but on several occasions, as a lecturer at a University, I would take the SB2 to my office hours, then to my 3 hour class. I would go 4.5 hours and end with about 54 percent battery remaining.  On the Macbook Pro,  I would normally end with about 42 percent. For reference, my old Thinkpad W520 would struggle to go beyond 3.5 hours even with a new replacement battery.

I’ve always been a big fan of the Thinkpad line of laptops because of their durability and unassuming designs but at the expense of a more modern and fashionable styles (which is reserved for their Yoga product lines). The SB2 is all about the industrial look. It’s slim and minimalist looking. It’s as close to the Macbook Pro in quality than any other laptop out there in the market.  The SB2 hasn’t gotten hot or warm at all during the time that I’ve used it during my non-gaming use. The keyboard is great. There’s plenty of travel and it is very comfortable to use, and the glass trackpad is smooth and very responsive. I think its one of the best trackpads for a Windows system I’ve used. The trackpad does have a loud clicking mechanism, but I tend to use the double-tap to click function anyway.

Overall, the Surface Book 2 “15 is one of the best laptops out on the market.  It’s a 2-in-1 device as the screen can be detached and used separately as a tablet. I don’t see myself using it as a tablet, but knowing that if one day I do need it that it’s there.  The mechanism to release the screen is ingenious. All I have to do is press a button and a message pops up to say its ready to be removed.  Popping the screen back into the base automatically locks the screen in place.  I’ve taken the screen off a few times to show people how it works, and every time people are surprised how cool the features is.  If there’s only one thing that I wish the SB2 had was a Thunderbolt port. It’s just annoying that as expensive and high-end this laptop is suppose to be that it’s missing something that is standard among mid range laptop released last year.  It’s only saving grace is that it has a USB C port.  I’ve used the USB C port a few times to charge and to output video to a VGA adapter (not at the same time).

Lastly, the thing that surprises me was the Surface proprietary charging port.  I was annoyed that Microsoft decided to use a proprietary solution instead of the USB C/Thunderbolt. As it turns out the port uses a magnetic adapter solution, similar to the old Macbooks MagSafe chargers.  There was a couple of times where I accidentally kicked the power adapter and the cable snapped off as expected. If it was charged via USB C my SB2 would have easily flown off the table. At that point I didn’t feel so bad for having that proprietary charging port.  So, if you’re in the market for a high end Windows laptop that provides smooth and productive computing experience I highly recommend it given you can stomach the high price.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆

Incredibly Fast
Excellent Battery Life
No additional Manufacturer Bloatware
Windows Hello Face Recognition is very fast
Great build quality

Very expensive
Doesn’t come with Surface Pen
No Thunderbolt 3 port
No Fingerprint reader

Macbook Pro, You’ll be missed

Several months ago I got a brand new Macbook Pro 15″.  It was my first Mac computer and it was great. It was great for doing many of the basic things like browsing and presenting PowerPoint  and a few other things. But creating documents were a bit frustrating. I’ve used MS Office on a Windows PC for so long and it’s the only way I’ve done it.  It’s nothing against the Macbook Pro or MacOS its actually the MS Office Suite for Mac was just different.  Basic templates for it weren’t available and the ability to embed web videos isn’t available as it is on the Windows version, just to name a few.

I got VMWare Fusion 10 to enable my Macbook Pro to run Windows, but the slight sluggish performance was annoying. It was annoying when browsing, working on MS office suite apps, and other software I can only use in Windows.  I switched to Bootcamp, Apple’s tool to run Windows natively on their hardware. This solved the Windows performance issue. But that solution led to another problem.  Since the Macbook Pro has a discrete video card, a dedicated high performance video card, it was the primary video driver for Bootcamp.  Instead of using the Intel integrated video chip it used the discrete video card 100% of the time which dramatically decrease the battery life, and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Unable to live with those annoyances I sold the Macbook Pro and got the Surface Book 2, 15″ model.  The Surface Book 2 is an amazing device it does everything that I need it to do and the battery life is awesome. It’s just as good as the Macbook Pro, with MacOS, if not, better.

There are a few things that’ll I’ll miss from the Macbook Pro. First being the amazing trackpad. The smoothness and all the gestures built into MacOS makes it a joy to use.  The trackpad on the Surface Book 2 is also great. Windows 10 has a lot of great trackpad gestures but overall performance and smoothness the Macbook Pro edges it.  Secondly, the Macbook Pro’s build quality is top notch. Almost everything about it makes it feels and looks premium. The Surface Book 2 looks just as premium. The build quality is also great. Again, the Macbook Pro has a slight edge against the Surface Book 2.  I think its the Surface Book 2’s magnesium case. Maybe its just me, but it feels plasticky (is that a word?).  I know its all metal. I guess I’m not use the magnesium feel of it.   If I had to give it a score for build quality the Macbook Pro gets a 10 and the Surface Book 2 gets a 9.5. And Lastly, I will miss the Thunderbolt 3 ports.  The ability to charge the laptop from any port and use any of them to connect to a monitor or a Thunderbolt 3 hub makes it so flexible and future proof.  The Surface Book 2 doesn’t have a TB3 port. But it does have one USB-C port. You can charge the SB2 with it and output to a monitor, but not at the same time.

There are some trade offs between the two laptops, but overall the Surface Book 2 is the ultimate laptop.  I didn’t mention it yet, but the SB2 is a 2-in-1 device as it has a touch screen and the screen is detachable and it can be used with a Surface pen things the Macbook Pro can’t do.

Website Rebuilt

So I decided to rebuild my WordPress blog.  I migrated to Dreamhost so long ago I don’t even remember when I did it.  Before Dreamhost I hosted the site myself on an old desktop in the living room.

Over a decade with using WordPress I’ve tested a bunch of plugins and and add-ons and stuff.  Anyways, I decided to delete the whole site and imported only the posts and images making the site cleaner.

Next steps for me is to pick a theme and make a few cosmetic changes to the site.

Consumed by Pokemons

Over the last couple of of weeks I got started playing Pokemon Go with my children.  Before I knew it I was sucked into the Pokemon Universe. My wife reluctantly joined in on the party, so now we spend several hours a week walking around our neighborhood looking for these Pokemons. Once I started playing I can see the flexibility of the game makes it very popular.  It’s one of the few games that encourages you to go outside and walk around. You can play alone or play side by side with other players, and in my case it’s with my wife, kids and sometimes with other family members. The only time you really co-op with other players is when you battle against a Pokemon, and even then it’s limited to just attacking and trying to defeat that Pokemon. Win or lose you collect some random loot and you move on.

Holiday Weight Gain

Every weekend is almost taken up by parties, get-togethers, research time for deals for gifts to buy, which leaves leaving little room to workout. So far this season is off to a good start. I usually gain significant amount of weight over the Thanksgiving weekend that ends up lasting till the end of the year. So far I haven’t gained any partly due to being sick right before Thanksgiving which limited my appetite.  The season is still young and there’s plenty of time for me to unintentionally pack on the winter weight.

Upgraded my laptop

I’ve been hauling around my Lenovo W520 laptop for almost 7 years.  The sound no longer works and I’ve replaced the battery. The sound does work through headphones or through the DisplayPort.  It was great powerful laptop that did everything I threw at it.  But it was overdue for a replacement, so I after being a lifelong Windows user I decided to pick up a Macbook Pro 15 (2017). I’ve always admired the Macbook’s design and build quality and this one is no exception.

It’s been a few days and so far it’s great.  The screen and battery on this machine is amazing.  I’m planning to get VMWare Fusion to run Windows 10, so I’m not missing out on my Windows specific apps and games.  This is probably one of my most expensive computers I’ve bought, and I’m hoping it’ll last just as long as my Thinkpad did, and if it does I feel it’ll be worth every penny of it.

Should I run when I’m sick?

Last week my kids got me sick.  Since they recently started school they must have picked up a bug and now spreading it to my wife and I. I decided to rest over the Labor Day weekend and just relaxed.  Earlier in the week I felt pretty good, so I ran an easy 10k (6.2 miles). But the following morning I felt like crap. I guess I didn’t fully recover.  I think I’m going to take a few more days off to try to fully recover (or do super easy runs).  I have the San Jose Rock and Roll Half Marathon in 4 weeks, and I don’t want have to have anything lingering going into that weekend.

Note 8 Hands-on

So I got my Note 8 a few days ago.  When I first held it in my hand the first thing I noticed was how heavy it was compared to the S7 I was currently using. It’s probably the heaviest smartphone I’ve ever held.  The size of the Note 8 is large as well, but it wasn’t a surprise as my wife has the S8+ which I get to play with it once in awhile.  Like the S8+, it’s fast and smooth. The camera is excellent.  The bokeh effect with the dual camera is a nice feature. It makes regular looking shots look like I took it with an expensive DSLR.  If you have an iPhone 7 Plus then you’ll understand what I mean.

The biggest concern about the Note 8 was the battery life since it has a 200mah small battery than the S8+.  With my first full day of normal use (after installing all the apps and configuring all my settings the day before) the phone was at 71% from 6:30am to 430pm.  This included Always-on-display, about 20-25 Hangout messages, about an hour of web browsing, a few minutes of videos, and about 20 emails. Typically my S7 would be around 40%.  That’s not bad at all.

So far I’m totally digging the phone. I could have done without the curved edge screen, but it doesn’t bother me much as I have a Spigen Tough Armor case where I can hold the phone without touching the screen.

Note 8 or V30?

Samsung announced their Note 8 last week. It was almost the perfect phone except for the 3300 mAh  battery. I was hoping it was going to at least match the S8+ 3500 mAh battery. With the Note7 owner discount offer ($425 off) I decided to use it and preorder the Note 8.

Then a couple of days ago LG announced their V30. The device is quite compelling and as of right now the V30 could be considered a better device. Until I see it in person the Note 8 will be my #1 choice.