Review | 2017.12.17

West coast

Dog weimaraner shore beach La Jolla

Jes and I took Kaf down to the cove. Rain had washed part of the path away, so we had a difficult descent and even more challenging return.

Dog weimaraner cliff beach La Jolla

The beach was nice and practically deserted, as usual.

Motorcycle Zero S parking lot Santa Ana winds pine needles

The December Santa Anas made for some strange weather and, of course, nasty fires. It was crazy to see heaps of pine needles blown up against all the cars in the parking lot.
East coast

Snow shed yard

The east coast was quite the opposite. 20s and 30s with a couple of days of snow over the week I was resident.

BWI airport Baltimore Maryland sunset

It wasn't all bad weather, but there wasn't much to do outside the office.

Warframe Plains of Eidolon Ash Prime

I did pop down to J's house for some K'nex, Old Ox, Warframe, and...
Monster Hunter World (Beta)

Monster Hunter World beta sliding

PS+ offered a free trial of the new Monster Hunter. The beta primarily demonstrates a lush open world and combat mechanics. I'm told a big part of the game is inventory management and crafting, which the trial doesn't really feature.

There are a number of melee weapons, which means close combat with a catalog of massive creatures. They're difficult to master as they are often slow and require charged shots or combos.

You can also go ranged with a few bow and firearms options. For the beta monsters, being at a safe distance meant you didn't really have to worry about your health bar.

Each monster has a few recognizable moves that may or may not be avoidable. They're pretty unique in the scope of the beta, I'm not sure how this will map to a full game.

Monster Hunter World Monster Hunter World Monster Hunter World Monster Hunter World

It does kind of feel like a hack and slash button masher where instead of mowing down squishies you're making no visible impact on a legendary monster. Even if the combat isn't a main selling point, it could be a great experience in its totality. We'll see what the reviews say. In any event, it's good to have an upcoming co-op title for the PSN sessions.
Zero, part II

Motorcycle Zero S charging station parking sunset

A month or so into ownership, some commentary on the Zero:

Subject Commentary Resolution
Sidestand Big, beefy, won't sink through new asphalt by the looks of it. Great lean angle. The Duc's was bolted into the crankcase, which turned out to be a flaw, this one is on the frame.
Steel-braided brake lines I'm not sure if this is now standard, but it's nice to see.
Mirrors Stock rearview mirrors are always huge and terrible. Happily, they come off easily. I borrowed the bar end mirror from the Duc, however it's clamped to the bar end plug, which is not a great way to go. Unfortunately the grips leave no space to clamp.
Incandescent turn signals C'mon, electric vehicles should only have LEDs. Thankfully Zero used standard indicator housings and I got these for $60-80 a pair (so double that).
LED taillights Okay good. But on a silver and black bike, a big red housing looks a little gross. I was a huge fan of the aftermarket smoked housing I got for the Duc, I don't expect one is available unless this is a standard tail light part.
Halogen headlamp Right, so going LED or HID here would probably up the sticker price a bit too much. But it'd be nice to have a factory option since messing with an ebike's electrical system seems dangerous. It looks like a direct replacement may be difficult? The web had this combination: lamp, housing, bracket.
Blandness Fairings are nice, especially when you don't have to ever pull them off to do wrenching. But if you're going streetfighter, at least make the bottom fairing the color of the tank. For $300 I can carbon up some of it. Maybe plasti-dip the bottom plastics?
Enormous rear fender This must be a DOT thing? It's... horrendous. There's an $85 metal bracket that holds the plate and turn signals. I'm considering the composite path though.
Battery linearization So battery level is based on voltage. As the battery discharges, the voltage drops. This is nonlinear - the thing we all know, the last x% of your battery lasts no time at all. When you're making a vehicle, you'd think you could linearize it to account for this curve (more or less). Nope. The top 14% gets me ten miles, the bottom 14% gets me one mile. I have to do the leg work of characterizing the battery in my head. E.g. 25% will get me to work. The app has a stupid calculator that shows you how much fuel you've saved by going electric. Why not, instead, provide an empirical estimate of miles remaining?
Eco mode 70 mph limit Are you kidding me? That's a great way to endanger your rider: on the freeway moving to pass, roll on, suddenly no more power. Great. Also, you can't go eco->power without stopping. Only sport and custom modes.
App Of course there's an app. It looks primarily intended to go on a phone on a handlebar mount and show telemetry that really doesn't matter (like the displays on a Prius). Of course its real use is to solve the above issue and program a custom ecu mode that is tuned down but has no governor. I used it and am not entirely sure if I flashed my settings - the ui was a little ambiguous. It'd be great to be able to reprogram the existing eco/sport modes.
Key Why no nfc key? Life would be much easier if I just had an nfc key in my jacket and could hop on and scoot away. See, unlike most other components that can be easily swapped, changing up the ignition system is unpleasant even for the massive benefit to rider experience.

Motorcycle Zero S gauges riding

Funny side note, the app demands gps to pair to the bike, they even show a pop up that says it's required to pair. Yeah, nah. Pairing via phone settings miraculously managed to solve the problem. It is bluetooth, of course, which invites the question: if someone exploits my bike would you call it a Zero day? I'll see myself out.
The Last Jedi

Star Wars The Last Jedi

While Todd Gurly singlehandedly destroyed my fantasy championship run, I caught The Last Jedi. A few thoughts, no spoilers.

Damm, that was a good movie. I was apprehensive based on the last few, Disney, J.J. Abrams, and how Star Wars is now like the biggest kids brand in history. But they did a really good job with this one.

The premise felt a little like they were continuing the reboot/sequel theme - The New Republic is gone, Snoke has somehow asserted himself over the galaxy. It's not unbelievable - considering the Republic capitol was destroyed in TFA - but the entire time I was wondering how the new galactic order could have been so quickly reduced to a calamari cruiser and few support ships. And, well, you might have to assume out-of-order scenes between the power shift in the galaxy and what otherwise would have to be the longest lightsaber handoff in history.

Star Wars The Last Jedi Luke Skywalker Millennium Falcon cockpit

Luke brings the post-traumatic nihilism that many expected, offering the criticisms of the jedi that have floated around the extended universe. Hopefully the argument isn't dismissed altogether as the series progresses, the Star Wars franchise is better without absolute good and evil. And so I felt the writing is very good. Subtle enough, adult enough, with a bit more tension-breaking humor than I'd prefer.

Star Wars The Last Jedi Poe XWing

The action is handled very well. The space battles play out true to the series but leverage the wonders of modern cgi. The lightsaber and blaster battles aren't painfully long or unnecessarily over the top - it stands in contrast to all these agonizing super hero movies.

Where Empire was dark, this movie is profoundly sad. The story is melancholy, but the few remaining original cast members bring a subtle sentiment of sadness and loss - one that's only amplified by what's happened on this side of the fourth wall. It's not a movie that has you walking away thinking about space battles and laser swords, but of the iconic characters that are fading away on screen and off.

Addendum: feedback from Jon

Poe approaches a FLEET of First Order ships. Apparently they have their hundreds of fighters just standing by, sure. He prank calls Hux to by time enough to get close, ridiculous but whatev. He then proceeds to blow up every turret on the Dreadnought with 1-2 shots each. I know I wasn't the best at X-Wing, but I remember those taking several shots, or a bomb. Long story short, a single fighter renders a huge ship useless, while the support fleet around it just watches. Jon
There is, painfully, too much "no no, don't launch fighters until I say so". That said, if you're trying to cut your budget, not sending TIEs out and back every five seconds is probably smart. Happens on the Republic side too. In X-Wing it took several shots to take out a star destroyer turret. So yes, he got it done in way fewer shots, but I liked that he plowed the side of a capital ship, like you do in the game. It's the invisible hand of Disney trying to make Poe yet more heroic, but doesn't really have an impact other than setting up the low speed chase.
Kylo comes back the other way and with minimal backup, he tears up the rebel capital ship. He's in a different looking fighter so perhaps it is really advanced - fine. All the rebel fighters are still docked when he torpedoes them, that's lucky, but so was Midway, and Kylo has the force. With the help of his wingmen, he even takes out the bridge of the capital ship... but then what happens? Hux calls him off because his TIE fighter is too far away to protect? What! What protection had Hux been providing before? What protection does Kylo really needs since he clearly just crippled a capital ship with three fighters?
I thought there were TIEs in the initial combat with the Republic capital. No? Could Kylo solo a capital ship with his super force powers? Doesn't really matter because it's an unnecessary risk when you have the fleet on lock.
The rebels are on the run. Apparently, the really big rebel capital ship is slightly faster than the really really big first order ship. Okay, fine with that. However, there are also regular star destroyers that look sleeker than the rebel capital ship, are they also slightly slower? Could none of them jump ahead and get in the way to slow the rebels? If the First Order has all these ships, shouldn't others be able to converge to cut off the 'escape'? Since all the other plot in the movie happens around this 'high' speed chase, it's kind of important to have a logical premise here.
Are you saying they don't get as much space-wind resistance? Perhaps they could have done a microjump to corner the Republic fleet. Of course, the Republicans still had the option of making a hyperspace jump at any point, so it might be a good way to end up in disarray. I don't recall whether the Imperials were knew how much fuel they had. And, of course, my main issue is that they aren't using nuclear power on their flagship.
Laura "Devine Wind" Dern. The shot was visually quite stunning. However, do we really want to open Pandora's box here? Why would a kamikaze strike suddenly be a viable option? The First Order is more heartless, but never sent a Star Destroyer into hyperspace through the rebels. The rebels had several minimally-manned corvettes, but never turned around on the First Order ship. Perhaps it wouldn't have been massive enough to destroy the ship, but certainly it would have done significant damage, possible enough for the fleet to get away. Even A-Wings have a hyperdrive, so what are the rules?
Yeah if you suddenly start introducing kamikaze imperials (Republic doesn't have the evilness or spare people) and then hyperspace torpedoes it could break the whole mechanic. Maybe it's an f=ma scenario where anything short of a giant hunk of metal will just bounce off - though the 'a' adds a lot to the equation.

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