Changing The Platform in 2019

The website has undergone many different platform changes over the last ten years: Joomla! to WordPress to Pelican. I was never satisfied with any of them for one reason or another. I therefore changed the platform every three years or so. With a new year upon us, I’ve decided to switch back to WordPress.

Unlike eight years ago when I had WordPress installed, WordPress has matured considerably so much that I now enjoy using it. I’m also planning to consolidate my retired WordPress blogs under one domain, making this platform change semi-permanent. For now. We will see what happens in 2022. Old and new content will be going up slowly in the coming months.

My newest content can be found on YouTube, Twitter and Medium in that order (most active to least active). Be sure to follow me on each platform.

Nick Fury As Spider-Man’s New Daddy

A new trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home dropped this week, prefaced with an Avengers Endgame spoiler warning from Tom Holland. If you haven’t seen Endgame after it made over $2.5 billion at the box office, don’t watch the new trailer or continue reading. After the first trailer dropped three months ago, I made a video speculating who would make a better father figure to a young Peter Park, Tony Stark or Nick Fury. With Captain Marvel and Avengers Endgame behind us, and Far From Home coming out on July 5, 2019, let see how well my speculations held up.

My most glaring error was that Peter Parker was already on his school field trip in Europe when he ditched the school bus to join Tony Stark at the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War. I speculated that the timeline would reset in Endgame and Far From Home would resume with him ditching the school bus to join Nick Fury instead. The school field trip in Infinity War was to the Modern Museum of Arts in New York City. The school field trip in Far From Home was to Europe during summer vacation.

Because the timeline was not reset in Endgame, Far From Home will take place six years after Spider-Man: Homecoming. Endgame starts three weeks after Thanos snapped his fingers to eliminated one-half of all life in the universe at the end of Infinity War.

Captain Marvel shows up, rescues Tony Stark and Nebula in space, and takes the Avengers to the planet Titan, where they discover that Thanos used the Infinity Stones to destroy the Infinity Stones. If she used her superhero powers to reset the timeline all by herself, Endgame would have been a much shorter movie and spared my bladder from three hours of trauma.

Yes, Captain Marvel is that powerful.

Endgame skips ahead five years to when Antman gets out of the quantum realm, finds the Avengers, and convince them go on a cosmic treasure hunt to collect the Infinity Stones from parallel timelines since the past cannot change. Add another six months for Fat Thor to sober up, Tony Stark to build his time machine, and the rest of the universe returns from being snapped out of existence.

Peter Parker’s class, if not his entire high school and everyone in New York City, returns as if the timeline was reset. The population at large should be split between those who returned unchanged and those who stayed behind for six years. Maybe Thanos was a Republican who snap the Blue States like New York out of existence while leaving behind the Red States.

With Tony Stark dead at the end of Endgame, Nick Fury has no choice but to assume the father figure role for Peter Parker. Based on the new trailer, I no longer think that is the case. Nick Fury will put a boot up Peter Parker’s wazoo to get him to become Spider-Man. Happy, who was too friendly with Aunt May in the last trailer, will become the father figure that Peter Parker need to help get over mourning for Tony Stark.

An alternative theory is that Nick Fury is MJ’s baby daddy. Considering that Peter Parker’s last girlfriend’s father was the super villain Vulture, his next girlfriend having a superhero father wouldn’t be that far fetch. Nick Fury as Peter Parker’s father-in-law might be a boot too many up the wazoo.

Is Nick Fury’s MJ’s baby daddy?

Watching Avengers Endgame At Pruneyard Cinemas

I wasn’t planning to see Avengers Endgame during opening weekend since tickets were sold out two weeks in advance at many movie theaters in Silicon Valley. While AMC Theaters added more showings around the clock, I wasn’t going to see a sold out showing on Saturday at 4:30AM. A group of friends were seeing the movie at Pruneyard Cinemas in Campbell on Sunday at 6:00PM. One of them dropped out at the last minute and they asked me to join them. This was my first visit to Pruneyard Cinemas, a dine-in movie theater and restaurant that opened over a year ago.

Pruneyard Cinemas occupies the former locations for Pizza My Heart, Camera 7 movie theater, and a bar-and-grill restaurant. When entering the theater lobby, the kitchen doors and ticket kiosks are to the left, and the entrance to the restaurant is to the right. What was Pizza My Heart became the kitchen for the new establishment, and the old box office for Camera 7 became a storage room for the kitchen. The new restaurant is the Cedar Room with a bar along one wall and tables on the other side.

The layout of the theaters was no different than it was under Camera 7 for 15 years and United Artists for 43 years: Theaters 1 and 2 to the right, women and disabled restrooms straight ahead, Theaters 3 through 7 around the corner, men restroom up the stairs, and concession stand to the left. One notable change was the removal of the drop ceiling to reveal the wooden beams of the gable roof and open up the space overhead.

While food and drinks are available at the concession stand and bar, most people wait until they sat down inside the theater to order. The 6:00PM showing of Avengers Endgame was in Theater 2, the second of the two largest theaters. We were let into the theater 20 minutes before the movie started. Being a traditional movie theater, it was long and narrow. Each row had powered recliners with an attached table and cup holder that can swing inward. Unlike the powered recliners in a Dolby theater, these powered recliners can go all the way horizontal, if you like watching a movie between your feet or the first half of Avengers Endgame puts you asleep.

Waiters dressed in all black went down each row to take orders. I can’t say anything about the food since I don’t eat out at the movies and I’m not much of a foodie, but I did order a glass of Coke and a glass of water. My friends did order food and each one got a big plate, which smelled very good from where I was sitting, and they all reassured me that it was great. Most of the food arrived before the house lights dimmed for the trailers. If you’re into watching the trailers before the movie, you might find it distracting with waiters and busboys delivering food until the movie started.

Because this is a traditional movie theater, the screen was darker than the bright Dolby and IMAX screens. Our reserved seating was in the back center, which, in my opinion, was too far away from the screen for me to enjoy the movie. I felt like I was watching Avengers Endgame from the backseat of a car at a drive-in rather than at a dine-in. Food and ticket prices for the Pruneyard Cinemas is in line with other theaters in Silicon Valley, making it an reasonable alternative if you want to eat something better than plain old concession stand food.

Should You Keep A Brand New AM4 Mainboard With A “Damaged” Socket?

Last month I posted a video on how I installed the AMD Athlon 200GE processor into the AM4 socket of the Asrock B450M Pro4 MATX mainboard with a little bit of pressure. Despite the clicking sound from the socket, the processor worked fine after extensive tests at stock and overclock speeds. Should you keep a brand new AM4 mainboard with a “damaged” socket?

While switching out heatsinks to lower overclocking temperatures, I made an attempt to remove the processor from the socket. I lifted up the lever and heard a clicking sound when the socket was fully opened. I was able to pull out and drop in the processor without any pressure, and press down on the lever to close the socket without a clicking sound. After repeating that a half dozen times, the clicking sound went away and the processor still works fine.

The AM4 socket is a Zero Insertion Force, or ZIF, socket, which does not make clicking sounds or require pressure to insert a processor. Something funky about the socket on the mainboard that now works fine.

  • If you are a new or less experienced PC builder, you might find it safer to return the mainboard for another one with a working socket.
  • If you are an experienced PC builder, the risk of something going wrong might be less than the hassle of returning the mainboard to the store during the return period.

Let me know in the comments below if you would have kept a mainboard with a “damaged” socket.

20 Years Between Star Wars Trailers

I got goosebumps from watching the teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker that came out last week. The last time a Star Wars trailer gave me the goosebumps was the teaser trailer for The Phantom Menace in November 1998. That was over 20 years ago. Before the dark times, before Jar-Jar Binks. A very different time for the Internet and movie theaters than it is today.

The online teaser trailer for The Phantom Menace downloaded — not streamed — over 10 million times, a record for the Internet at that time. Most home users had a 56K dial-up connection, and DSL that was much faster than dial-up was becoming more widely available. With a faster Internet connection at work or university, you still had to download the video file for best performance on late 1990’s computers.

The teaser trailer appeared in theaters before The Waterboy, Meet Joe Black, and The Siege. People paid $7 USD to see the two-minute trailer and then leave without seeing the movie. I wouldn’t witness that until the trailer appeared before Wing Commander in March 1999, where 90% of the audience left without seeing the movie. If you enjoy really bad science fiction, Wing Commander was great. Freddie Prinzer Jr., who co-starred in Wing Commander, would later voice Kanan Jarrus in the animated TV series, Star Wars Rebels.

I was as a video game tester at Accolade when The Phantom Menace came out in May 1999. Our HR person pulled off the impossible by having the entire company of 100+ people see the 1:30PM showing on opening day at the Winchester Century 22 movie theater. The same theater that I saw the original Star Wars in 1977 when I was a seven-year-old kid.

We left the office at 10AM to stand in line for three hours before the movie started. The HR staff handed out sandwiches and soda for lunch in line. Other people in line wondered why we were getting the VIP treatment. Besides being hardcore gamers, we were hardcore Star Wars fans.

Like many people who saw The Phantom Menace, the movie itself did not live up to expectations of the teaser trailer. We will not speak of the evil known as Jar-Jar Binks.

Twenty years later…

  • You can stream The Rise of Skywalker teaser trailer on your cellphone or PC, as everyone has enough bandwidth and hardware performance.
  • I very much doubt anyone will pay $20 USD just to see the teaser trailer and walk out without seeing the movie, which I think might be Avengers: Endgame opening next week.
  • With reserved seating for Dolby and IMAX movies these days, no one stands in line for hours to see a Star Wars movie, or any movie for that matter.

Will The Rise of Skywalker live up to expectations of the teaser trailer? We will have to wait and see.

James & Oliver Phelps (Harry Potter) Coming to SVCC 2019

The organizers for Silicon Valley Comic Con 2019 posted on Facebook last week that a new guest announcement would be made 24 hours later. With three lightning bolt emojis in the Facebook post, there were several possibilities as to who the mystery guest could be. Based on the timing and the use of the lightning bolt emoji, Zachery Levi was the most obvious choice as Shazam opened last week. Other possibilities included Brie Larson from Captain Marvel, Chris Hemsworth from Avengers Endgame, or David Harbour from Hellboy.

Whom did the organizers announced with great fanfare 24 hours later?

James and Oliver Phelps, the twin brothers who played Fred and George Weasley in Harry Potter.

With Silicon Valley Comic Con 2019 just four months away, the guest announcements have been few and far between. The guest list prior to new announcement was Jason Momoa of Aquaman, Morena Baccarin of Deadpool, and Ben McKenzie of Gotham. You can watch my Jason Momoa video to catch up on the announcement misfires from last year that cast doubts on the organizers’ ability to put together a half-way decent guest list.

The impromptu timing and buildup for the Weasley Twins was just another announcement misfire by the organizers. You don’t drop three lightning bolt emojis in a Facebook post just before Shazam opens and then announced actors from a completely different franchise.

The announcement also didn’t coincide with any major Harry Potter news for that week.

Unless you counted the Polish priest who apologized for burning Harry Potter books and other “evil items” that promoted sorcery in society. His book burning campaign was against sorcery in general, and not against Harry Potter and non-Western religions in particular. An anti-smog group filed a complaint against the priest for illegal burning of garbage in public.

If the organizers waited until this week, they could have announced the Weasley Twins to coincide with premiere of the Universal Studios Hollywood’s “Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle” at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park. With the mainstream media covering that event, the Weasley Twins announcement could have benefited from the renewed interest in Harry Potter.

Somewhat ironic that a priest burned Harry Potter books for promoting sorcery last week when Hollywood is promoting sorcery at the Harry Potter theme park this week.

The organizers should have simply announced the Weasley Twins without fanfare and let the announcement speak for itself. Like Lou Ferringo, who played the Hulk in The Incredible Hulk TV series, and David Harbour from Stranger Things and Hellboy announced this week. With Hellboy opening at the movies this weekend, the organizers should have promoted the heck out announcing David Harbour.

Prepare Your Bladder For Avengers Endgame

Avengers Endgame clocks in at 183 minutes or three hours and three minutes. If you are like most hardcore Marvel fans, you plan to sit through the credits to see the final button scene. If you are not careful about what you eat and drink during this long movie, you might have to leave the theater to use the restroom. Either just before Stan Lee’s reportedly last cameo or the button scene after the credits. If your bladder is ready to burst, you may find it uncomfortable to pee for 15 minutes straight.

I have an epic bladder buster story to tell you from personal experience.

The third movie of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of The Ring, The Return of The King, came out in theaters on December 17, 2003. Selected theaters around the United States were showing the extended versions of the first two movies, The Fellowship of The Ring and The Two Towers, in the two weeks before the new movie. Each extended movie was over three hours long.

A coworker and I drove up from Silicon Valley to San Francisco after work on a Friday night to watch the first movie at the AMC Metreon Theaters. We each got a large Coke and a bucket of popcorn. Sat spellbound through The Fellowship of The Ring, drinking our Cokes and munching our popcorn. When the theater lights came on, we ran to the men restroom, stood in line with aching bladders, and wondered when the peeing will ever stop once we started peeing.

I thought pissing a kidney stone with a full bladder of blood, pus and urine for five minutes was bad in 1995. Pissing a full bladder of urine for 15 minutes was much, much worse. You would think that we learned our lessons after watching The Fellowship of The Ring.

Oh, hell no.

We did the same thing the following Friday night for The Two Towers. Large coke, bucket of popcorn, and a never ending piss. No doubt our bladders suffered permanent scarring from watching those two extended movies.

As for non-extended version of The Return of The King, which clocked in at 200 minutes or three hours and 20 minutes, I followed these three tips to avoid bursting my bladder.

TIP #1 – EMPTY YOUR BLADDER TWICE

You want to empty your bladder before the movie. Not once but twice. I recommend peeing before you leave home and peeing after you arrive at the movie theater.

  • If you are young and stupid, you may skip this tip and hope for the best.
  • If you are slightly older and less stupider, you can go once and hope for the best.
  • If you are much older and more wiser, going twice isn’t really an option.

I recently made the mistake of not going to the restroom prior to seeing Captain Marvel and missed the second button because I was in the restroom. So I saw Captain Marvel a second time to see the second button scene and confirm my theory that Brie Larson’s character was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

TIP #2 – MODERATE EATING AND DRINKING

Be careful about what you eat and drink during the movie.

I avoid eating at the movie theater because concession food is expensive and unhealthy. I find it cheaper and healthier to eat something light at home before leaving for the movie theater. Remember to pee before you leave if you do eat at home.

If you do buy concession food, avoid the large bucket of popcorn and large soda combo. Salt, sugar and fat is the magic combination that make you eat and drink more than what you need. If you find yourself eating half the popcorn and drinking half the soda during the trailers, you really need to ditch the popcorn.

If you cannot go through a three-hour movie without drinking something, I strongly suggest a bottle of water. If paying $7 USD for a bottle of water is too much for you, get a large cup filled with ice and fill that with soda. Or get an Icee. For half of the movie you are drinking soda and the other half melted ice water.

Avoid alcoholic beverages altogether if your theater has a bar. Alcohol will cause your kidney to produce more urine and fill up your bladder.

Avoid eating and drinking all at once by taking small bites and sips throughout the movie.

TIP #3 – KNOW YOUR MOVIE THEATER

Consider what format the movie is in, what kind of seating is available, and where to sit in the theater.

  • Dolby has powered recliner seats that can take the pressure off of your bladder with your feet up.
  • IMAX seats are comfortable but you have to position yourself in such a way to avoid putting pressure on your bladder.
  • Regular seating will put pressure on your bladder when sitting upright for an extended period of time.

If you have a hair-triggered bladder, sitting near the exits or on the aisle might be a good idea. And, finally, if you can wait until the movie is over and the house lights are back on, the lines to the restroom are much shorter.

Unless you are sitting with a hardcore group of Marvel fans. I saw Captain Marvel twice a week apart and 90% of the audience for each showing stayed for the two button scenes. I’m used to seeing a half-dozen to two dozen people stick around for the button scenes. Never a nearly full theater.

Ellen Ripley (Alien) & Anna Fisher (NASA) 40 Years Ago

This year is becoming a blockbuster year for celebrating anniversaries in real life and at the movie theater. The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 manned moon landing in 1969, as celebrated in the biopic First Man and the documentary Apollo 11. The 40th anniversary of Alien introduced the kick-ass heroine, Ellen Ripley, in 1979. Six months before Alien became a hit at the movie theater, NASA selected Anna Lee Fisher to be one of six women astronauts for the space shuttle program in 1979.

Did you know that Ripley and Fisher were both moms in space?

My initial idea for this video was about NASA’s first all-female spacewalk with astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch outside of the International Space Station. NASA cancelled the spacewalk a few days later because there was only one medium torso among the four spacesuits on the International Space Station. The other available medium torso was, quite literally, out to the dry cleaners on Earth. The spacewalk went on with astronauts Christina Koch in a medium torso and Nick Hague in a large torso.

After sending 500 men into space, NASA still has problems with women in space.

If that was not bad enough, Vice President Mike Pence demanded from NASA that the first woman and the next man on the moon be American astronauts launched on an American rocket from American soil in the next five years. Never mind that the America First approach to space doesn’t include budget increases for NASA to return to the moon sooner than 2028 and design new spacesuits to accommodate different size astronauts of the opposite sex.

While researching this topic, I came across an essay by Taylor Page about the similarities between Ellen Ripley in Alien and Anna Fisher being selected by NASA in 1979. The two women—fictional and real—redefined the traditional female archetype to become role models in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

GENDER MINORITIES

They were gender minorities in male-dominated industries. Ripley was an aerospace engineer and one of two women working on the doomed space tug when it came across the distress signal from LV-426 and the nearly indestructible xenomorph. Fisher had a master’s degree in chemistry when only 25% of chemists were woman at the time.

THIRD IN COMMAND

They were both third in command for their space assignments. After the captain and the executive officer, Ripley was third in command as the warrant officer. Fisher was a mission specialist and the third in command on board the Discovery for STS-51-A in November 1984, launching two satellites into orbit and retrieving two satellites from orbit.

MOMS IN SPACE

Something that the essay revealed was what happened before the events in Alien: Ripley violated “regulations by allowing a natural pregnancy to come to term” and her assignment on the space tug was “a renegotiation of her contract” to spend time with her daughter. Maternal instincts will become a big part of future Alien movies.

Fisher was the first American mom to go into space, having two daughters prior to her spaceflight and taking an eight-year leave from NASA to raise them before returning to the agency as a manager.

For the record, cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova in 1963 was the not only the first woman in space but also the first mom in space.

Alien (1979)

The essay noted that “Ripley served as one of the first non-sexualized leading independent women in cinema” (emphasis added).

*cough* Cheer if you remember the underwear scene in Alien? *cough*

Sigourney Weaver, who played Ripley, initially defended the underwear scene in an interview: “‘Are you kidding? After five days of blood and guts, and fear, and sweat and urine, do you think Ripley wouldn’t take off her clothes?'”After receiving negative fan mail about the underwear scene and seeing how traditional Hollywood scripts were towards women, she would think twice about taking off her clothes for a movie.

Of course, that was 40 years ago and the times are different today.

Science Fiction Women In Underwear

Why YouTube Is Warning Content Creators On Gleam Giveaways

Jay of JayzTwoCents recently made a video on why he will no longer do giveaways on his YouTube channel after giving away $100,000 in PC hardware over the last eight years. YouTube slapped him with a warning for using an external website link in the description of his giveaway video that could have driven traffic to inflate his engagement metrics. The offending external link was for Gleam, a popular contest management service that Jay and many other content creators have used for years.

Gleam, however, was a known problem for several months by content creators who pay close attention to YouTube policy changes. When I expressed my opinion in comments that Jay was responsible for the situation that he was in, I got push back that he had done nothing wrong and YouTube should not have given him a warning. Even big content creators like Jay need to stay current with YouTube and third-party policy changes.

Giveaways are either a curse or a blessing for content creators. Newer channels use giveaways as a way to grow fast at the risk of gaining an audience that cares more about free products than the latest video. Established channels use giveaways as a way to give back to the community and reward long time supporters.

Roberto Blake recommends that content creators should not do giveaways until they have at least 1,000 subscribers. He mentioned in a recent video that a channel with 1,000 subscribers represents the bottom of the top 10% of all channels on YouTube. To put that number into perspective, the top 10% include channels from 1,000 subscribers to 91 million subscribers. The 1,000 subscriber mark is where the remaining YouTube features become available, including monetization and super chats.

About two dozen content creators in recent months got warnings by YouTube for using an external Gleam link in the description of their giveaway videos. TeamYouTube tweeted a response to Erica the Technology Nerd that giveaways are not being ban. The external links that can inflate engagement metrics, such as views, likes and subscribers, are ban under YouTube’s “Fake Engagement Policy” and “Contest Policies And Guidelines.”

It’s unclear whether or not YouTube knows what Gleam does for the community.

Gleam is a popular service for keeping giveaways fair for the viewers and manageable for the content creators. Larger channels like JayzTwoCents can easily have 400,000 contest entries spread out across multiple platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The days of dumping contest entries into a spreadsheet, using a random number generator, and picking the winner from the corresponding row number of the spreadsheet are long gone.

Gleam has many actions for setting up a contest, including asking for views, likes and subscriptions on YouTube. Those particular actions are no longer compliant with YouTube policies. As of March 4, 2019, Gleam is recommending “visit a YouTube channel” as the preferred action for YouTube and let the viewer decide what to do once they are on the channel page.

On March 11, 2019, JayzTwoCents posted his giveaway video with the Gleam link in the description that asked for comments, likes and subscribes on YouTube. Shortly thereafter an asshat reported the Gleam link. YouTube disabled the Gleam link and slapped JayzTwoCents with a warning. The warning itself was a recent policy change in how YouTube handles community guideline violations. Under the old policy JayzTwoCents would have gotten a community strike with serious consequences for his channel.

On March 15, 2019, JayzTwoCents posted his follow-up video on why giveaways on YouTube were no longer worth the trouble. If he had made himself aware of the policy changes at YouTube and Gleam, he could have avoided the warning altogether. Or maybe not. With YouTube cracking down on external links in the video description, using Gleam or any third-party link may no longer be safe for anyone’s channel.

Jay announced his Gleam giveaway link on Twitter and his only YouTube action is to visit his channel. There is no penalty for telling viewers to go to his Twitter account for the giveaway link. For now, at least. By hosting his giveaway on Twitter, Jay will also need to stay current with policy changes at Twitter in addition to YouTube and Gleam.