Category Archives: Reviews

Android Auto

One of the things I am, folks, is a nerd for technology. I love all of the newest things. I love them and I frequently get them, even if I don’t mean to.

A lover of technology I am, and I reside quite squarely in the Android world. I’ve _tried_ to get into the iOS thing but… I’ve failed. I really just _like_ Android better. But… What I am not is a fangirl. Because I am not a fangirl, I had exactly no idea what Android Auto was. Nor did I know how new it was.

Electric Blue Metallic-N4B-17,48,105-640-en_USVery recently, I had gotten so entirely irritated with my 2006 Town & Country I decided it was time to sell it back to the dealership. I was not about to sink that much more money into the thing to repair it. But then, of course, there I was in need of a vehicle, right? I was very much after something with good fuel economy. I was going to be driving 25 miles each way to and from work, and I was tired also of 18 MPG. I had done some test drives of cars with good mileage that were the kind of car I was looking for, but I ended up going with the 2017 Hyundai Elantra.

This car, for me, gets 40 MPG highway, easy. But… That’s not what this is about. This is about Android Auto. I was told by my sales guy (who I adore, btw) something like, “It lets you see your phone’s… desktop… on your display.” <- This wasn’t exceptionally helpful, but I am good at figuring things out. Here’s what I found…

It allows me to open and initiate the audio programs on my phone… any of them… I have Google Music and Audible, which is pretty common, but I also use OverDrive for audiobooks. It lets me start them even though they weren’t previously open. This is a big deal. Other bluetooth radios in cars that I’ve used (a custom Kenwood and a stock system in a 2015 Impala) require that the audio program have been loaded and still be open in the processes (i.e. you can see it in the notifications panel) before it can be initiated, and you cannot change audio programs without a great deal of work. This is annoying. I can switch between them all, seamlessly, with Android Auto, no matter their state. There is only ONE part of this that annoys me: It won’t let you change playlists in Google Music. You have to play the last playlist you loaded or open your phone to pick a new one. You can, however, see all of the songs in the loaded playlist in Android Auto.

Android_Auto_ScreenshotIt works with Google Maps and Navigation. VERY VERY WELL. I love it. It is absolutely amazing. I hit the button on the steering wheel, I say the name of the place I want to go, Google returns a map entry for the place in question, I hit a button, and it tells me where to go. It got me straight to the IU Med Center in Indianapolis. It’s gotten me to restaurants, stores, and all of the things I’ve tried it with with no issues… which does speak volumes to the accuracy of Google Maps and it’s navigation features, but… But I really like the way it works with the display and the audio in the car.

When I call people from Android Auto, it’s really interesting. I shows me the picture for the contact I have in my phone. I love that. I love seeing the person I’m calling. The native Bluetooth calling in the car works well, but it’s not this fun. I really do like it.

There is only one thing I _don’t_ like… If my phone is already plugged into the USB cable when the car is started, the car doesn’t recognize the phone and I have to unplug and plug back in the phone before Android Auto will start. It is at most, a minor inconvenience, and I don’t know if it’s a quirk of the car or the program.

There it is. My personal take on Android Auto. There is so much they could do with this, but it its current state, I find it extremely useful. I look forward to where it does go in time.

New Phone: The Note 5

So some time ago I posted that I had options for a new phone, so I thought I ought to follow-up with the phone I went with.

galaxy-note5_gallery_with-spen_blackI ended up deciding I really wanted the Note 5. I’ve had three other Samsung phones. I got the 64gb version, the day it became available. I gave the guy at the Verizon store a lot of shit because he didn’t stock the 64gb version. I also gave him the voice that… sometimes, there are super users… and if you aren’t going to give me a 128gb option, you need to give me a card slot, no joke… though I know that this isn’t something he can fix. He can provide that feedback to someone. πŸ™‚

It’s a huge, fast phone. The new Touchwiz is natively theme-able, which I thought was a great improvement… then Samsung wouldn’t let me have access to the app to design themes for it because I didn’t have a portfolio……………. and let me tell you, the themes that were being put out there in their store… they were so stupid. They were so dang stupid. I guess that’s what Samsung wants.

My phone is encrypted, but it doesn’t ask me for an unlock code to decrypt my internal storage volume. I don’t know how I feel about that. It does have a fingerprint scanner, which is hella convenient so far. I keep trying to get my Galaxy Tab 4 (8″) to open that way and I’m all disappointed when it can’t. You are able to pin the things you use the most in the Settings menu so you aren’t stuck looking for them (and not finding them) constantly.

Not sure if it’s a problem with the headphones or the phone or maybe just some level of incompatibility between the older firmware on the headphones and the bluetooth software on the phone. My Bose AE2W, when you first turn them on, are supposed to automatically connect to anything they’ve previously connected to that’s in range and on. My phone is always near when I turn them on. The headphones connect, then disconnect, then maybe two minutes later, reconnect. I can try to speed up this process by opening up the bluetooth settings on the phone and trying to manually force the connection… sometimes turning off the bluetooth radios on the phone and turning them back on helps… sometimes not. I don’t know. It’s probably the most annoying part of all of this.

In the summer, I got a Kenwood in my van. I drive a 2006 Chrysler Town and Country. It’s a great van, but just before a lot of the wireless capabilities that are now available standard in just about everything. So I had to use a really awful auxiliary port that I had installed by the guys at Best Buy. I had been through half a dozen cables and everything was still awful and crackly. This Kenwood was a full job. The radio pairs with the phone, flawlessly. It makes calls, plays, pauses, changes tracks on my Google Music All Access. The steering wheel control the radio that controls the phone… It’s spiffy. πŸ™‚ I use this probably the very most.

All of the things I do regularly… play Dungeon Keepers and Boom Beach and Shipwrecked… listen to music… surf Google Plus… text the hell out of peeps… shop online… all great with the phone.

Android Pay works pretty well with it. I’ve also used it to pay with PayPal, which is also pretty spiffy. Samsung Pay blows so far, we’ll see how that goes.

The phone is fairly comparable with the Note 3 I traded in for it in terms of size. Battery life is better. Screen dims more for the dark. I do still use Nova Launcher… even after paying like $9 for Next 3D. It’s ok. I really like Nova. πŸ™‚

I feel like, overall, I have a better, faster version of the phone I had and loved. Nothing hugely horrible about it that makes me regret getting it. If you like the Note series, or even the S series Samsung phones, you’d really like this.

Thanks for reading,


Review: It Follows

Warning: Spoilers.

Ok, peeps. This is a horror flick. For sure. My husband didn’t like one part of it, and I’ll give him that part, but that’ll come

First, I’ll give it this: people were obviously acting. I mean, obviously acting. Conversations between characters were unnatural and forced. This is my one criticism.

In this story, a girl is seeing a cute guy who gets her into the back seat of his car. Things happen, of course, and then he knocks her out and ties her to a wheel chair… to show her this present he gave her: this thing that follows her.

The rules are simple: don’t let it touch you; it’s slow, keep moving; don’t go into a place that has only one exit; you sleep with someone to pass it on; if it kills the person it’s following, it goes back after the last person, and so on and so on; oh, and once you pass it on, you can still see it.

If you don’t want any spoilers, stop reading here. You’ve been warned. πŸ™‚

The group of horrid teenagers starts off with three girls and two boys. The first is the girl, Jay, that was initially given the thing.Β There’s her sister, some kid who’s in love with Jay, and another boy and girl who I can’t recall who they are other than they are around, I imagine.

We know no one can see it if it hasn’t been passed to them. The dynamics of the group are such that, they could easily pass it to everyone in the group, and everyone could see it and stand guard, and they would be able to work together, right?

No. No that’s not what happens. The girl trusts the one random dood who she barely even likes to do the dirty with and pass it to him. He gets complacent and one night she sees the thing breaking into his house, and it kills him. From then on, it’s a lot of running and planning and plotting and a lot of failure. At one point, she seduces some doods on a boat, and the thing still comes after her… so they presumably die.

They come to a point where they think they’ve stopped it, the girl does the dirty with the boy who’s all helplessly in love with her, and then we see them walking down the street, hand in hand… and as the camera zooms out, it’s following behind them, then BAM! Cut to black. This is the bit my husband hated. WHY DIDN’T IT END IN THE POOL! <- says he. πŸ™‚

It’s pretty thrilling, in spite of being predictable. It’s the kind of movie that could easily have a dozen sequels, and that wouldn’t bother me at all. I’m sure I’d watch them.

There it is… Maybe… 7 out of 10. πŸ™‚

Review: Metal Tornado

Metal_Tornado_CoverSo… Metal Tornado.

I’m looking at this movie, and I’m thinking… LOU DIAMOND PHILLIPS! HELL YEAH!

No. Just… No. The whole movie is… Well, it’s a lot like Bigfoot. With Bigfoot, I thought… OMG! It’s Danny Bonaduce and Barry Williams! The Partridge Family and the Brady Bunch! OMG! This is going to be pure awesome!!

No. It was awful. It was so awful I highly recommend you don’t even bother with Bigfoot… Unless you want to be driven to self-harm.

I recommend that you only bother Metal Tornado if the idea of an electromagnetic tornado appeals to you at all and be warned that this lives right up to the awesome standards set by lowest-budget SyFy movies. Dear god.

Sharknado 2, this is not.

Review: Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer-2Snowpiercer… This is an interesting one. I thought it was clever in a lot of ways. I really did. But the end was a tremendous disappointment. I don’t know what I expected, but I expected something more than that.

Acting was pretty good. I’ll give it that. Visuals were pretty awesome. The idea for the drug in film was creative, I thought.

On the whole, I’d recommend it with maybe 3 out of 5 stars… Which reminds me, I need to come up with a rating system and calculations. πŸ™‚

NCIS: I’m a junkie

So… I am an anarchist. This means that I have a fundamental problem with the idea of “police” and “police agencies” and codified law. But, I love NCIS. Let me count the ways…

I love Zeva David. She loves to be a kid, something I’m sure she didn’t have much as a child (yes, I know she’s a fictional character). She’s very smart, very fast, tough, but just the right mix of sensitive and strong. πŸ™‚

I love Tim McGee. He’s your prototypical nerd. I would totally date him. No joke. And I did just rediscover a scene from one of the very early episodes where McGee finds out that Abby sleeps in a coffin, and he says, “You let me _sleep_ in a coffin!?” And Abby replies, “Not just _sleep.”_ Bwahahahahahahahaha

I love Tony DiNozzo. He _is_ the class clown. We know that he’s extremely sensitive and his clownery is how he hides all that away. But he does _love_ Zeva, and I feel that he would risk just as much for Tim or Abby or Ducky as he has risked for Zeva and Gibbs in the past. I think that he is fiercely loyal. I love how he handles his father, and I sympathize with the unease he feels when his father appears out of nowhere.

I love Gibbs. He’s a good guy and a bad guy. He has his own set of rules, which appeals to me on a very basic level. But his rules allow him to take lives when it suits him. He is vengeful in a way that makes me uncomfortable from time to time. But he would never ask anyone to act in a way that would compromise their own values, no matter how much it may hurt him. He loves everyone enough to let them be themselves without interfering. He’ll smack you when you’re a moron, he’ll hold you when you’re broken, and he’ll burn down the world to save you. The father none of us ever had but all wish we did.

I _love_ Jimmy Palmer. The things that he interjects that always irritate Gibbs, are always adorable and fun and relevant… Jimmy Palmer relates to the world much the way I do. I appreciate that. He’s smart, though maybe a bit too trusting at times. He’s dedicated. He’s honest.

I ADORE Dr. Mallard. Ducky is gramps. Everyone’s grandfather who has stories about all of the things. He has a great understanding of other people’s motivations and he is very observant. We know that when he was younger, he was involved in much more secretive stuff, like Gibbs was involved in. He’s capable of _great_ fury, but generally, he’s very sweet and a great listener.

My favorite is Abbs. Abby. Ms. Schuto. I know her tattoos are fake. I know that she’s written to be everyone’s kid sister. But you don’t just act a part. Especially after so much time, the part becomes a part of you as much as you become a part of it. Pauley Perrette is actually a forensic scientist by trade. She’s also really from New Orleans. Everyone says that she makes goth adorable. I don’t think Abby is a goth. I think Abby is herself. Probably more herself than anyone else. There’s an innocence about her. She hasn’t been spoiled by anything, even the awful things she bears witness to over the course of the average day at work. When I grow up, I want to be just like her.

Vance. Vance is interesting. Vance… I know that Vance keeps a lot of things very close to the vest. Not unlike Jenny Shepherd did. I know that he doesn’t have nearly the connection with Gibbs that she did. And while he is always a hard-ass, I feel like he is every bit as protective and loyal as Jenny would have been… of all of them… I do not think that there will ever be a Vance betrayal. I feel like he can be trusted.

There you have it. My feelings about the entirety of the main cast of NCIS.

I think that I get over my hatred of police and law in order to watch this show because 99.9% of the time, they’re investigating a death. Whatever the law is or isn’t, investigating death will always be worthy and proper. I can live with it. Lying, entrapment, violation, I cringe at, even in this show. But I get over it. πŸ™‚

Have a good day, all!

My New Phone – Options

There’s a lot of hubbub about the up-and-coming flagship phablet, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. I’m really rather excited about it myself. There’s a trend in the current S-series devices that suggests that the new Note could move away from a removable battery and memory card slot. I recall when 4.4.2 prevented many of my apps from using the SD card the way they had previously and I had to root my phone in order to fix this issue. I was annoyed by this. Additionally, I haven’t performed a physical battery pull on my phone at all that I recall. I’ve had it since…. October maybe… It used to be a very common occurrence, but it doesn’t seem to be anymore. So between being able to get the phone with up to 128 gb internal storage (the current S6/S6 Edge option) to deal with the external SD card issue, and the fact that I care not to pull the battery on my phone these days, this seems like a reasonable move. I am not dissuaded by this trend.

That said I’ve seen that today was the announcement that the OnePlus One is no longer requiring invites for purchase. It’s a very good price and is running Cyanogen. It’s not quite as big as my Note. Not sure how I feel about that. Additionally, not even sure if compatible with Verizon and I’m in no rush to leave Verizon given my current perks and geography.

I’m also interested in the HTC One M9, but I’m not impressed with its size. I don’t know how I feel about the UI. Having been so used to TouchWiz (even dressed up with great launchers), I just don’t know. I’d have to see it in action.

There’s also the Nexus family of phones. Also small. Not huge in terms of internal storage. And I suppose there’s the Sony Xperia… the new generation of these phones is being announced, currently, or will be soon, I believe. I think I read about the one being sold exclusively in Japan.

I’ll do all of this research and comparison, and I will probably end up with the next Note. I really have loved all of my Samsung devices so far. I am thinking though that I may end up with the Dev edition straight from Samsung rather than the commercial version from Verizon. We’ll see. πŸ™‚

Bose AE2W Bluetooth Headphones

BoseAE2wsideI got these headphones recently. It wasn’t a small decision. I ended up with a pair straight from the Bose store for about $180. I was in the market for dual-pairing, binaural, over-the-ear bluetooth headphones. I wasn’t interested in going cheap. I was interested in good, quality headphones with a great warranty and long life expectancy. I had heard great things from other folks I personally know who have these headphones, I’ve read a lot online, and I feel like I made the right decision.

I have two very small problems. First, it doesn’t come with a hard case by default. You can buy the case for the headphones for $15 on amazon. Very much worth it. Second, if the headset loses connection, either to the primary broadcasting device, or to any other secondary paired device, it has a problem continuing to play whatever it’s playing. Even if it is a time after the disconnection when you start playing again. I used to have to turn off my bluetooth on my phone and turn it back on again to get it to clear. This was, however, me being impatient. The problem corrects itself in a matter of seconds. It isn’t significant enough to dissuade me from making the purchase again if I’m faced with it. πŸ™‚

So there you go, highly recommended. Bose AE2W Bluetooth Headphones. Worth every penny!

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.So I watched the first season of this show. I cannot believe how much I have come to love the characters on this show. I felt so betrayed when the betrayal happens. I have come to trust characters that we have been made to distrust. I try really hard to not get too caught up in the drama, but I cannot help it here. I think this show is really well done. I absolutely hate getting into a show because I know just how easily shows get cancelled anymore. I worry that this one will be a victim of “We don’t want girls watching.” Bastard TV execs.

What I can’t help but wonder here is if it is part of my anarchist side that loves this show. Coulson is operating nearly completely autonomously of the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. He flouts their rules, he has a wonderful sense of who others are and what they need and when they need it. Betrayal happens, but no one is perfect. I have no doubt that Coulson blames himself, but I haven’t seen the second season yet to know how this bit plays out.

I will watch this second season hating every moment of drama and loving it in spite of myself. πŸ™‚



Snowpiercer (2013)

So… I didn’t know what to think of this thing… I really wasn’t sure. I mean… It’s got the guy who plays Captian America… I was shocked to find that the evil woman was the chick who plays Gabriel in ConstantineΒ and Orlando in Orlando.

The movie, I’ll admit, did _not_ go as I had expected. It was a typical dystopia, it was surprisingly well made. It apparently made nothing in the US relatively speaking, but did huge abroad. I think it was an independent flick anyway, based on a french graphic novel.

I’m trying hard to say things about this movie without giving too much away. It’s really crazy. I will say that it repeats quite a bit this very strong reinforcement of social class. So much so that it hurts me to witness it throughout the movie. Every bit of society is represented here in this little world. Some believe it is all that is left of humanity, even.

The plot goes like this: someone has come up with a chemical to cool the earth, to counter global warming, and it plunges us into a sort of ice age. Aware of this future, the man named Wilton builds a train that will run forever, around the earth, once a year, and he takes enough people onto this train to sustain a closed ecosystem. The movie is about how he accomplishes this and how the social dynamics in the train change over time.

I really liked it and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys apocalypse and dystopia.