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Ender’s Game Review

So overall, here are my thoughts. I enjoyed Ender’s Game more than I expected.  I was really not having high hopes. I just recently read both Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow the past year. And had concern that the film would be a bubble gumball take like Starship Troopers.

First the movie deviates from the book in a number of places. Some of which I feel were done wisely, and others not so wisely.

Characters from various interactions and platoons are lumped together in one platoon.  And I feel this worked. It simplified things but did not take away from the story in abbreviated form.

I was glad the included Ender’s siblings. But feel the sadistic nature of his brother could of been emphasized further. But the aspect of the books political element with the siblings was completely cut. And I think that was a wise move as well. It is extraneous to the core plot.

A few issues I have are similar to those highlighted in some reviews. That the ostracization of Ender is extremely brief and I think more needed to be done to focus on that. We leap to quickly into the “We embrace and are loyal to Ender” mode of the story, rather than the turbulence that had to be endured before hand.

Very Minor spoiler – there is a scene where Ender is ordered to do a set of push ups followed by a second set. I feel they blew it with this scene. If you’ve been to a military academy, you know that second set would have included ALL your fellow cadets being forced to join you. This would of provided a great opportunity to play up the outcast nature. And I think they missed it.

The other issue that is completely lost is the fact that Ender was much younger in the book. And thus smaller than everyone, except for Bean.  But in casting, Ender is taller than many of his rivals.  Including Bonzo Madrid, whom while muscular was extremely short.  It took away the fear that was there in the original book scenario.

With that gripe aside, I loved the casting.  First off, amen and thank you for having some ethnicity. Alai actually has dark skin. Oh, and seeing this on IMAX you get to see all the flaws of the actors. Asa Butterfield’s moles. Pimples covered in makeup on other actors.  But it makes it a bit more human. And I like that.

In fact that was one of the big plusses of this movie. That the characters cast have imperfections of beauty and look real. (This is one of my gripes with Marvel Agents of SHIELD, other than Colson the other characters are to physically perfect and ultimately forgettable.) Petra, had a unique face and appearance, that slightly off from normal model that we see in Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen.  I like that Hollywood is actually leaving moles on characters.  I also liked the casting of Bean. But really wanted them to just highlight him a bit more. Show him being willing to stand up and question Ender. And being similar in that thoughtful streak.  All the more so having recently just read Ender’s Shadow. But I felt he looked fairly close to how I pictured him in my mind.

I do have a few more gripes, with certain aspects threw elements off for me – especially at command school. But I’ll reserve those due to plot details.

That said, I fairly liked how the adjusted the ending a bit. And how all that was done. While not true to the book. I think it was true to the spirit of the book.

So I give Ender’s Game a B-, it was better than I feared. But didn’t hit where it could of.  Ironically, I think this would make a way better mini-series on HBO or Netflix where that added depth to develop the characters and stories could be made.

 

The Magic of Disney

This little story is about the “magic” of Disney.  And an event that transpired that let us feel that beautiful magic beyond the commcercialism.

My son is four and he loves Tinkerbell. He has the pillow, the blanket, the PJs, the toys. So one of the main things we wanted to do in Disney was see Tinkerbell fly down from the castle.

Our first night at Magic Kingdom we found out that the park closed at 7pm for Trick’or’Treat (if you wanted to stay it was another $60/person – yikes). Really felt that Disney could of had better notifications on the Disney Experience planner. But we planned to visit Magic Kindgom twice.

On our last day, we decided to split it between two parks. Animal Kingdom (which was really cool, highly recommend it and it has the best coaster in Disney). And Magic Kingdom in the evening.  My 6 year old daughter decided she wanted to go to Epcot instead. So we were going to split out group.  No problem.

So we finishing up dinner. Plenty of time to get to Magic Kindgom and see Tinkerbell. When we had an “Oh Crap!” moment. The Disney tickets require a finger to enter. We had been advised to use a parent finger instead of our children/s fingers.  This was because we had a promotion offer so all of our tickets were technically “adult” and they said the system had trouble identifying the fingers of little kids on adult tickets. We’ve since been told this is not the case.

Regardless, the end result was that due to this. I had to go with my wife and daughter to allow her entrance into Epcot. So we rushed off to Epcot, got my daughter in. Then headed to Magic Kingdom. We arrived at the monorail just as they pulled the cable across to stop boarding. Even though there was plenty of room. We explained that we were trying to catch Tinkerbell. But it was a no go. We had to wait for the next monorail. Sure enough, as we’re approaching the Magic Kindgom I see her. Tinkerbell in the far distance coming down. I caught a 3 second glimpse and didn’t have enough time to pick up my son for him to see.

We were frustrated and upset, but largely disappointed. And this wasn’t the first time we’d been given bad information/advise by Disney staff.  I shared what happened at the Customer Service booth but did not feel they really cared or were going to listen. As they didn’t even bother to get my name/ticket#.

Well there was still the light parade. So we wound up wandering into one of the shops on Main St. And inquiring about the parade to confirm that we were in the right place to see it.  The guy was helpful, and after explaining our disappointing miss of Tinkerbell’s drop. He informed us Tinkerbell is on the first float.  And where to stand to get the best view.   He shared that he used to work the parade. And he led us to a spot in the middle of the street across from the fire station.  He showed us two markers in the ground and explained that the parade would come through right here. And those markers were for placement of the fence. So as long as we stood right “here” on the far side of those markers, we would find ourselves at the very front of the fence at the very start of the parade.

Sure enough Tinkerbell was the first float. My son blew her kisses, and she made eye contact. And I swear for the hole 90 seconds as she slowly passed by, she was focused on him. I almost wonder if he made a call to tell Tinkerbell to keep a look out on a blond curly haired kid. It was adorably cute.

Later the Cast Member (that’s the Disney term for staff/employee) returned to ensure that we had been able to see Tinkerbell.  We told him we had and thanked him profusely.  Then to our surprise he returned about 5 minutes after that with a little baby Tinkerbell doll for my son.

It was amazingly cool. I am not sure if he had to buy that doll out of pocket or if Disney has a program for that.  But all I know is that young man from NYC by the name of Enrique, saved the Magic of Disney.  He kept Disney from being a mere commercial entity. Our last night at Disney went from ending in frustration to ending in an amazing and truly magical moment that left tears in the eyes of my family.

So thank you, to an amazing young man for letting our final moments at Disney be something beautiful.

Jericho and Enrique
(If you see this guy around Disney, be sure to give him a shout out and tell him “Enrique Rocks!”)

Jericho smiling with Tinkerbell Doll

Jericho and Tinkerbell

Tinkerbell

PS – If you’re headed to Disney yourself. Be sure to check out my prior post with tips, tricks and reviews.

Thoughts and Tips from our Disney Trip

Disney Tips

Where to stay? Our trip was off season in September.We stayed at Parkway Resorts. It was like $595 for 5 days. Beautiful 2 bedroom suite, master bath with spa tub and large shower. 2nd bathroom. Living room which pull out bed. Kitchen….where we cooked the catfish we caught in the parking lot after a big rain.  Extremely clean and luxurious. And not much more than a standard hotel…cheaper than most actually.

https://www.expedia.com/Orlando-Hotels-Parkway-International-Resort-By-Diamond-Resorts.h692651.Hotel-Information

Highly recommend checking their rates out for your trip.

TICKETS

 

  • Tickets are tied to fingerprints. And limited to one individual.
  • Parkhopper can be beneficial if you want to see a park that closes early, such as Animal Kingdom and then hop over to a late night park
  • Waterpark tickets let you visit either of Disney’s two waterparks.  Note, that if you buy a 4 Day Ticket + Waterpark. You receive 4 waterpark days. So this makes for a rather economical deal. 3 Day Ticket + Waterpark = 6 days of activity.
  • Military promotions require a military member or their spouse to attend the first day. After that you can continue to use your tickets regularly. This is nice, because it can be very difficult for servicemen to get a week off for Disney. But it’s nice to attend with family the first couple days and continue your stay for the rest of your tickets.  The discount is fantastic. Thank you Disney. We had 4 day + waterpark. So 4 park days + 4 days at waterpark. 8 day + waterpark = 8 park days + 8 days at waterpark for 16 days.

PARKING

Parking is $15/day. Magic Kingdom is kind of crazy. You park. Take a tram, which gets you to the monorail. Then you take the monorail. I didn’t try it. But I was almost thinking that parking at Animal Kingdom or Epcot, then taking the monorail/busses (free) might be easier.

Another thought….I noticed that the waterparks had free parking. But I also saw some busses. It made me wonder if one could in fact park at the water parks for free, and take the bus to Disney parks – downside risk. Waterparks close at 5pm, so I expect bus service to stop by 6pm-7pm (I think they said 2 hours). Your hotel may have shuttle service. Good to find out. But this might be a way to save $15 on parking for a park that closes early like Animal Kingdom.

FASTPASS: All tickets can get fastpasses, they do run out. It’s good to hit up the ones you want early. There might be a limit to how many you can get.  

NOTE: Disney allowed you to bring in outside food. The container/cooler has to be within a maximum size. So we usually had some snacks and drinks with us. That said, my understanding is that all of the eateries must provide you with a cup of ice water if you ask. And we did that a few times.

Download the phone app, it will show you times and waits. Most of the time, the waits were estimated higher than actual. 5 minute = time to walk through corridors. 10 minute = 5

Buy ponchos at the dollar store. It rains A LOT in Florida. And they’re like $5-$12 for ponchos in Orlando.

***

I really enjoyed Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Blizzard beach. We hit the Magic Kingdom on a Tuesday….very low crowds. I would suggest trying to do Magic Kingdom on an off day like

that. I’ll list rides and attractions that most appealed to me – and which didn’t.

Magic Kingdom

First thing first…summary:  Amazingly, when I arrived earlyish (about 1/2 hour after opening). the second time Magic Kingdom was fairly empty. Wait times for almost every ride was 5-10 minutes (or less). That said, by 11pm, all those struggling to get the kids out the door arrived and boom…it became crowded. Do a Tuesday or non-weekend and you’ll probably be able to do the whole park in a single day.

Oh, Starbucks on Main St. is expensive, but only in the fact its Starbucks. In fact most drinks were priced the same or about 50 cents more.

Ride Review:

Haunted Mansion – still amazingly fun with all the optical illusions. This is one of the few rides from my childhood that remained and was still as fun.

Pirates of the Caribbean – still fun, not quite as awe inspiring as when I was a kid. But worth going. Short wait.

Space Mountain – big disappointment. I remember going on this in Disneyland, CA. It had floating moons, etc. This was really just a roller coaster in the dark. And not even the greatest. Go on it if not busy, but really, if it’s crowded….skip it. Probably the ride I was most disappointed in.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – decent fun, typical train coaster.

It’s a small world – okay, worth doing for the history. Not too bad of a wait.

Peter Pan’s flight – this is pretty neat, it’s a gentle ride but they have like a miniature Peter Pan world and it’s kind of cool.

Splash Mountain – okay, this is a freakishly cute weird surreal world. And well, it as about as close to being in Toontown as one gets.

Monsters Inc Laugh Floor – moderately entertaining, worth going but not super.

Stitch’s Great Escape – Ok, it’s an experience not a ride. But it’s kind of like a 4D show with smellivision.

Tomorrowland Speedway – Basically go carts. Not much different than the game, except you’re locked in a path. I’d skip. You can’t even really race a friend. Only go if zero wait.

Under the Sea/Little Mermaid – rather fun, especially if you’re a Little Mermaid fan. I am not, but everyone seemed to enjoy (even me). (Epcot’s Finding Nemo is similar and way cooler IMHO.) But if you like Ariel, this is a must.

Railroad – I didn’t go on, but my 2 year old daughter loved it.

Swiss Family Treehouse – a walkthrough but I thought it was cool.

Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin – Okay….but line can be long.

People Mover in Tomorrowland – Nifty tram ride, go on this first and you’ll get a whole overview of Tomorrowland. Then see if you spot it while in other rides. Then you’ll have a better idea what you want to do.

Light Parade/Light show: They had a really cool lightshow on the castle itself. These are worth seeing once.

DID NOT DOs:

Hall of Presidents – Didn’t do, but would of liked too. Kids were a little small I think.

Riverboat – Could of been fun, and I think romantic.

Jungle Cruise – Closed

Tom Sawyer Island – Didn’t make it.

I’m skipping the kiddy rides btw.  

FOOD: Magic Kingdom food was so so. Burgers were eh. A number of the more ethnic restauraunts were closed already. (Consider using your park hopper to head over to Epcot or Animal Kingdom for better food selection. It’s just a short bus or monorail ride away.)

***

EPCOT

In a lot of ways, Epcot was one of our family’s favorites. Ironically, because most said the kids would be bored. And yet it was where my daughter wanted to go a second time.

First off, the villages…these are pretty cool. Will highlight.

China – MUST SEE when the gymnasts are there, this is like a mini-circ de solei. Ever seen women drumming with their feet and passing the drums around in the air? VERY COOL

Viking Village – Really fun little Viking Ship ride (Maelstrom). Looks like Jim Henson built it.

Canada – Nifty presentation on a 360 degree screen for Canada. Was pretty fun I think. And somewhat humorous. Worth doing IMHO.

Ellen’s Energy Adventure – Kind of hokey, but the dinosaur section made it worth it.

Soarin’ – I did not go, but wife and daughter did. They said it’s fairly cool. It’s one of those TV screen/motion rides I believe.

Mission Space – DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT go on the “orange” path. Green only. Took 3 hours to recover. This is a ride with a screen that makes you feel like you’re moving on a spaceship. In fact, it is a giant spinning ride that while kind of cool in the green. Is totally torturous in the orange, and really has zero added fun factor. Orange will make you sick, feel like your blood pressure shot up. And is the only ride I came away going “I DO NOT LIKE THIS SAM I AM”.

The Seas with Nemo and Friends – AWESOME!!! One of my favorites in all of Disney. So it starts of “Nemo” but then you realize there are real fish. There is an entire aquarium, dolphins, and more. So I’d give yourself an hour for all this.

Spaceship Earth (Big Ball) – This was actually really cool. Has some of the most amazing Animatronics I’ve ever seen. Subtle hand movements of some were amazing. It’s a tour of human history from caveman to modern day. Some really cool light effects. Night sky and a grid of LEDs that feels like an endless expanse.

Test Track – Cool coaster ride, but you can go into the group line and you get to “design”your own car and see how they compete. Plus tons of GM cars you can check out afterwards. Sit in a Camaro, Silverado, etc. This is a must do, and can be a bit of a line.

There were other rides we did not get too. Some of which I think would be worth doing. We did Epcot on a Sunday as our first park because we had a late start. 1pm – night. We came back on another day when Magic Kingdom surprisingly closed at 7pm for Trick Or Treatin ($60 per person ticket).

FOOD: First off, Epcot has some of the best food for reasonable prices. There is a lot of ethnic food in the villages. There is a middle-eastern restauraunt with reasonable prices for souvlaki, falafel, etc. And fancier dining with shish kabobs.

They do have a food and wine around the world for a few weeks. Not sure if that will still be going on when you arrive.

FREE DRINKS, that’s right. Coca-cola has a mini “world of coca-cola” with soda fountains that distribute samples of sodas they sell elsewhere in the world (France, Italy, China, India, Africa, etc). Some are really really good. And it’s free.

Magic Kingdom food was mostly sucky, since you have park hopper. Consider hopping on the monorail to Epcot for lunch/dinner, then returning back to Magic Kingdom. You might be able to take a boat across as well. Your stomachs (and tastebuds) will thank you.

Cool fireworks display and a nice light show. Be near the lake to really enjoy this.

***

Hollywood Studios

We did a bit of character seeing at this. Hit like 4-5 characters. You can mostly avoid this.

Honey I shrunk the Kids – Closed… 😐

The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow – Stand up show. But actually a lot of fun. The guy had Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow down to a T. Better than the one in Magic Kingdom show.

Muppet Vision 3D: Loved it, except for one thing. Some stupid 3D animated creature that was the plot. But ALL the Muppet stuff was great. Especially Waldorf and Statler. But if you remember the old Muppet studio/theater. This is a really cool recreation.

Rock N Roller Coaster: Fun, one of the better coasters. This is way better than Space Mountain. And far closer to my memories of Space Mountain in Disney World. It is an indoor coaster in the dark. I think you’ll want to do this ride at least twice.

HUGE HUGE HUGE TIP HERE: I had a fastpass, and it took me forever to get one. This is a “two by two” ride. So I went into the “single” vs “group” lane thinking it would be faster. I watched 300+ people in the group lane go by. I realized, the “single” lane is not fasterif it is a narrow seat ride. Basically, no matter what size group. They almost always filled it in. So us singles waited for 20 minutes longer. It was funny, I saw one guy who when reached the group line and was asked, how many….”Oh just one, then he looked at us, smiled and basically winked”. This probably stands true for ANY ride in which the rows are only 2 people wide.

Star (Wars) Tours – Okay, it’s just a screen and tilting seat ride. But its worth doing.

Studio Backlot Tour – Kind of fun, especially if you like Indiana Jones. Go early and talk, and perhaps you can get selected as one of the volunteers. They bring a group of like 8 out.

Toy Story Midway Mania – Think carnival shoot the duckies but on a ride, then multiply by 100x. This was fun, very competitive. Trick to it is that you yank the ball on the rope back and forth like a pop-gun. I blew away my family. By extending, and then just wiggling my hand back and forth really quickly. Aim for the higher point targets. It is a 3D ride too.

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – Really nifty, it is a haunting experience with a sci-fi “Twilight Zone” twist. We now want to see this episode. Followed by a very large bounce ride. My 6 year old daughter was terrified of the Haunted Mansion ride but loved this one enough to go on 6 times.

There are a few more exhibits and activites. We didn’t get to do all. But did most we wanted too.

FOOD: Okay, here I am going to do something shocking. I am going to recommend you book a lunch at “Hollywood and Vine” restauraunt. We did a “character lunch” with a bunch of kids characters like Handy Manny, Jake the Neverland Pirate, etc. Which the kids enjoyed. But mywife loved the food. It’s a cafeteria arrangement. But man, the food was rather decent. (No Texas de Brazil, but…it was good). My wife loved the lobster mac and cheese, they had a lot of seafood. A lot of meat. ) She was still raving about it like three days later.

There is also a 50’s Prime Time Cafe – we didn’t go here but it looked nifty, the entire decor is a 1950’s style cafe. So maybe hit this for lunch and the Hollywood and Vine fordinner.

***

Animal Kingdom

Okay, this was cooler than I thought. And also has Disney World’s best coaster. We were only here for a half day due to a late start…argh.

The Everest Ride – Is an amazing roller coaster. I put it in the top 10 I’ve been on, along with Superman, Shockwave (first stand up loop de loop coaster). Fun story too. Walkway is almost a museum

Dinosaur – Cool fun, bumpy coaster ride. Much cooler dinosaurs than Epcots Energy ride.

Kali River Rapids – Fun typical big tube ride, but I’d go on it just for the fake fire/smoke scene.

Maharajah Jungle Trek – We did this, really cool. I think this is where we saw the bats. Seriously, take like 5-10 minutes and just watch the beautiful fox bats.

Did not see….

The Boneyard – Sadly, didn’t get to make it to this.

World Tree – looked really cool

Kilimanjaro Safaris – Didn’t make this

I feel there was more to see. We did see a weird parade. But I think if we go again we’ll plan for a bit more time here.

Note this park closes earlier. So consider going here and hopping back to Epcot or such with your park hopper pass.

FOOD: There were a few ethnic choices, both for quick and sit down. There was a Thai restaurant and an African one (that sadly we had missed for lunch).

Also, there is a Rainforest Cafe that is pretty cool And has a lot lot lot shorter wait than the Volcano Rainforest Cafe in “Downtown Disney”.

***

Downtown Disney

Can we sell you something? anything? everything?

Okay, this had some cool stuff though. Definitely catch the Volcano Rainforest Cafe (it literally erupts).

Lego Store was AWESOME!!!!!

There are a few other rides, activities, etc. We didn’t get to stay here long due to kids melting down. But I definitely think you could spend an evening or afternoon or two.

Best of all, it’s FREE!!!! Just a mall really.

***

Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon – fun park, we did this one as our first waterpark but got rained out. We re-visited it. Excepting two items, I must preferred Blizzard Beach.

Castaway Creek – This is a nice lazy river, I love these things. But it can be hot on the tubes. Get some of the noodles. Put one or two under your legs. And one or two under your neck. And you get to drift AND be cool

Crusn N Gusher – Three tubes each named after fruit (Pineapple, Coconut, Banana as I recall), but here is the deal. There are single, double and triple tubes. And they’re only allowed in certain pipes for weight reasons. The one on the right (as I recall) is the only one that allows “single”, it is also like twice the wait or no better experience. So go in the middle and left ones. I tried to tell a couple, they didn’t listen. Boy did they regret it. Had about 100 people in front of them – we had none.

Gangplank Falls – Really long wait. Only ride we skipped.

Humunga Kowabunga – Fast drop water slide, much preferred the neighboring Storm Slides

Storm Slides – Twisty, turny, fun…

Surf/Wave Pool – Okay this is one area that is far cooler than Blizzard Beach. This is a huge wave pool with like 6ft waves. Intense. Fun.

Shark Reef – Bring a waterproof camera/corder. And swim with the Sharks and rays. Yes, real sharks. There is just something very cool about being in a pool with a hammerhead shark. Downsides, the water is much cooler (for the animals) and well they loan you snorkels, and clean them with a chemical solvent. Which doesn’t taste so great. So first wash it out in the showers near the exit. But seriously, when else are you going to swim with sharks?

😉

Oh, and you can buy an oyster with a pearl.

There are a couple of other water slides with tubes. Mayday and Keelhaul. These are okay…

And there was one other I forget the name that was pretty cool. It too was a one or two person ride. Different tubes could only go down different channels. We were nice, when we went up, we brought extra tubes.

****

Blizzard Beach – Okay, as for the two waterparks. This was by far my favorite fun wise. If not for the shark tank and the giant wave pool. I’d go here all the time.

Chairlift – As long as the line isn’t too long. This is a nice way to get up to the top. Leave your water shoes behind for most of these you can’t take them with you. You can still walk up to the top of the mountain btw. But it gives your legs a break from climbing all those steps.

Creek/Lazy River – Not as big as Typhoon. But still fun. These are a great way to get around the park.

Downhill Double Dipper – short, fun, shows you your time. Did it once. There were more interesting rides IMHO.

Bay – Smaller, kind of more relaxing wavepool.

Summit Plummit – Imagine a Nazi swedish masseuse, uh ya, this drop beat my back up. But that was probably because I was cruising at 40mph at the end. Thing bouncing on water when waterskiing. It’s cool to do once, and to see your “MPH”.

Slush Gusher – Fun, but scared the crap out of me. My mass seems to be faster down these type of slides than average. This is slightly small than the free fall slide but with a couple big bumps. The first go me an or two in the air. The second? I was probably close to a foot in the air. I could see the trough below me. Oh my…. it was fun/scary.

Steamboat Springs – round raft, 6 people, big pipe…this was fun and we did it a couple of times.

Toboggan Racers & Snow Stormers – Okay, these were simple, but actually my favorites. They used these foam toboggan like things. The twisty turny ones were fun. But the Toboggan Racers were my absolute favorite. For whatever reason, my dense body mass just thrust me down. Even when I let everyone have a bump or two head start, I would beat EVERYONE at the end. The downside? I believe it was like 87 steps to get back to the top.

TIP: If you want to go REALLY fast down a tube, press your heels and head down, and raise your back/butt off the ground. It’s like hydrofoiling. Only your heels and head are making contact so far less friction.

WATERPARK TIPs: These parks close at 5pm. While you could burn one of your 8 day park tickets after a waterpark to return to Epcot or Magic Kingdom. Consider one of these a good day to explore Downtown Disney.

Or if you want to re-visit one of the Disney parks, with 8 days. You may find you decide to use a ticket on a late night. (Some parks have late nights). So if you time a water park (close at 5pm) with a Magic Kingdom close at 9pm/11pm. You can still get 4-6 hours in.

Also, I recommend alternating “amusement park” … “water park”…”amusement park”. You use very different walking muscles.

Bring your own food and snacks. There is much fancy. But you can bring a backpack and leave in one of the sitting areas. No one bothered our stroller.

***********

Outside Disney…

Kabob Express on Rt 192 (I forget, the route number, but it’s one of the main ones in Orlando/Kissime). But extremely tasty food. Got Lamb/Goat curry. They have kabob sandwiches on Naan bread for like $5.

LASTLY….super big favor. If you pass by the Emporium on Main St in Magic Kingdom in the evening. Ask if Enrique is working? Tell him Jason and Jericho say thank you for the Tinkerbell Doll. (On the off chance you find him, it’ll probably floor him with surprise.)

PS – If you’re driving, and pass the “South of the Border” weird Mexican shopping / amusement center. One of the novelty shops had whips for $3. 😉

But I presume since it is just the two of you that you are flying?

Also there is a really good cup cake place in Orlando http://www.sweetbyholly.com/

If you have any questions, and haven’t fallen asleep yet. Feel free to ask. And yes it has been known to rain catfish and dogfish in Florida.

😉

 

***

And please read about our amazing “Magical Moment” at Disney.
https://thesaj.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/the-magic-of-disney/

 

 

Google NOW, not quite there….

Google Now – high potential, but a lot of issues.
> First, location alerts are totally NOT working for me, but they work for many others. So I won’t lay this on Google. ( I am thinking this may have something to do with the nightmare AT&T Smart WiFi (and why is it whenever a company puts “Smart” in the application name, its usually an abyssmally dumb and defective application).

> Location Alert (arrival only? sometimes I need a reminder from when I depart a location, even crApple understood this)

> Set Location Alert for a given day – why does Google assume we don’t want to set a date for our location alert?

> Locations (Home / Work), why can’t I add other regular destinations? What if I work two jobs? Seriously, fail…how hard would this have been Big G?

> Why do I have to go into Settings, “My Stuff”, to see my “Reminders”.  Dear Big G, let me give you a bit of UI advice. I know UI is NOT your strong point BUT…if you force the user to go into anything labeled “settings” to access common daily data YOU HAVE FAILED!!!!
Location alerts are probably the main failing I’ve had with my Android phone. It is by far, more versatile than my old iPhone.  But seriously, I’ve not been able to get any location alerts to work yet. I swear, my phone must of come with some hidden default that prevents location alerts from working. I’ve tried a few apps.  =(
> No swipe to delete email in the non-gmail application.

AT&T vs Verizon

A few months back I was looking at switching providers. For a couple of days I had two Galaxy Note 2 phones. One on Verizon, and one on AT&T.  I decided to do some “speed/performance” testing.  While traveling between Pennsylvania and Baltimore I conducted numerous performance tests against Speedtest.net.

I figured I wouldn’t likely have the opportunity to do so with the exact same phone.  So what were the results? You can see for yourself with the attached spreadsheets. But I’ll give a personal summary.

SUMMARY – basically, along most of the highway route Verizon had better speeds. Being a lot closer to a 10mb/s average.  AT&T seemed to fall into the 3-5mb/s far more regularly.  However, near both my work and home I encountered reception issues. This made me decide to remain with AT&T, even though along most of the highway and most areas I travelled, Verizon had better performance than AT&T. That said, at one spot near the I-83/I-695 junction, AT&T exceeded 56 mb/s. For reference, 18mb/s was the top speed I achieved on Verizon.

So which network is better? Well, as you can see, it depends on personal factors. Overall Verizon was superior, but where I personally most needed cell service, AT&T performed better.  Verizon is more consistently in that 10mb/s range. AT&T in some areas really screams at 28mb/s, 50+mb/s.

But here are the data dumbs. Perhaps I might map them sometime.

DOWNLOAD DATA FILES (ods)

AVG Update and Screwing with your Search

I was able to fix most of the search values. Reset default page. Set search bar back to Google. But if I typed in the URL, the search went to AVG.  Argh…

After much searching, found the solution here: http://support.mozilla.org/en-US/questions/810780

Which was in turn found here http://forums.avg.com/ww-en/avg-free-forum?sec=thread&act=show&id=157513 ,

 

SOLUTION

1) Type in address-bar about:config and press Enter

2) Confirm warning dialog

3) Find keyword.URL (you can use Filter)

4) Change value of keyword.URL to http://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-8&oe=utf-8&q=

And there you have it, your URL is back.  😉

Is Microsoft that Daft? Yes…

Seriously, Steve Ballmer should have been fired years ago. I am hoping it’s very soon. The man is flat out an idiot of a CEO. Why do I feel this way?

1. He has repeatedly failed to see where the market is.

2. He has failed to leverage Microsoft brands and technologies.

3. He has failed to stop infighting and bring about a conducive team inside Microsoft.

4. He has failed to implement common sense “features” while repeatedly implementing immense change.

***

[Please note, I am actually kind of okay with Windows 8. I am sort of getting used to the interface. So please don’t view this as a Windows 8 knock. I think it’s adventurous and was worth the effort and simply needs some refinement. In fact I jut think they need to incorporate some easy drag n drop arrangement of the new tile screen. And some outlines in metro apps.]

But let me address each of the above:

1. Microsoft is just now pushing into tablets, 4th generation smartphones, and mobile devices in general. Come lately again? Granted Bill Gates nearly missed the internet itself.

2. Failure to leverage Microsoft brands. And to recognize which ones are tarnished and which ones are marketable. I’m going to be point blunt honest here. “Windows” is a tarnished brand; so is IE. Very few people are using Internet Explorer by choice. Even though it’s vastly improved in many ways.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has it’s Xbox and it’s Kinect platform which has an overall strong brand loyalty. I believe it was a mistake for Microsoft to push the Windows Phone platform. Especially, in such an appless environment. It’s not enough to motivate the market.

Rather, an “X Phone” that was branded with the Xbox platform. That had an emulator to play many of the mini-arcade Xbox Live! games. This could have gone somewhere. Yes, it’d need more work. But imagine if the Microsoft phone came out, and while it may have lacked apps, it had a thousand games available at launch. Imagine if it could sync with your Xbox, carry your Live! profile, store your replays of Halo matches. Suddenly, a few million Xbox owners have got a lot more reason to go with Microsoft’s phone. (Ironically, many of these suggestions were sent to Microsoft by myself long before the 360 came out. And they’re still missing the game. Had Microsoft done this back when the 360 came out with their Zune, they might have given Apple a far greater challenge.)

3. Look, I understand Office team, isn’t as fond of Windows team, and neither is as fond of the Xbox/Entertainment branch. Suck it up. A CEO’s job is to make sure the various major divisions of their company are working in synergy. Steve Ballmer repeatedly fails at this. And that’s because of the “pie problem”. Each has their slice of pie and feels at risk. Eliminate the feeling of potential jeopardy so that there can be synergy.

4. Common sense features. Okay, how many stinkin revisions to MS Office do we need? And why can’t I simply schedule a block of time in the calendar and then select “Out of Office”, and automatically have my out-of-office reply turned on ONLY at those times.

Instead, I have to remember to turn it on right before I leave for vacation, turn it back off when I arrived, turn it on a few days later when I might be out for a day, and then remember to turn it back off. Of course, I do none of this remembering. And the feature becomes one of uselessness and guilt.

Logically, one should NEVER set their auto-reply, they should simply set their schedule and denote the status as “out of office”. When that is done, the message should automatically be set. (With an option use a custom message or append a msg to one’s general OOO reply.)

Sadly, this probably won’t make it into Office 2013 either.

***

Please Steve, pass the torch to someone who “can do”.


March 2017
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