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iPad Pro 10.5

So of course, I no sooner write that I don’t own an iOS device than, voila, I buy an iOS device. The iPad Pro 10.5, complete with Smart Keyboard Cover. Which I’m using right now for the first time. The keyboard, not the iPad. It’s going to take some getting used to...
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Quitting the Big Five?

So, I saw this article...

Why I'm Quitting Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, and Apple for a Month

...which led to this article...

Tech’s Frightful Five: They’ve Got Us

...and while I think both are overwrought, they did get me to thinking. Which, if any, of the "Big Five" could I live without? And, assuming I actually use one of their products, which could I give up?

So, here's the list (alphabetical order):
AmazonAppleFacebookGoogleMicrosoft Could I give them up? Well, as a first guess, no, but some I could toss or cut back on. The first to go is, actually, Apple. I don't use their products at all. The only Apple product I own is a fourth generation iPod Touch, and it currently resides in the drawer near my right elbow. iTunes isn't installed on any of my computers; any songs I've ever purchased from them are already downloaded and that's pretty much that. Voila, I'm down to "The Big Four."

As much as possible I de-emphasize Google. Th…

The Shape of Water

This? This is what was judged to be the Best Picture of 2017? This is the (arguably) science fiction film that finally won the big prize? This...creature (which is totally not from the Black Lagoon)? This?!? Let me be clear: The Shape of Water isn't just an awful film, it's Guillermo del Toro's worst. That's right, I think Mimic is better than The Shape of Water.

It's 1963 and a strange creature is brought to a strange lab where strange things transpire. The creature attracts the attention of a mute cleaning lady, and the attraction proves to be mutual. Fishy matters ensue.

As with all del Toro films, the design of The Shape of Water is gorgeous (except for creature himself; he's little more than a make-up job for Abe Sapien from del Toro's Hellboy films). The cinematography is well nigh perfect. As the mute cleaning lady Elisa Esposito, Sally Hawkins does a fantastic job, a gentle performance that stands out all the more due to the dreadful writing she has…

Apple HomePod, A Thought or Two

Apple is heaving their latest product onto an unsuspecting world. It's called HomePod and it's Apple's entry into the smart speaker market. It has typical Apple pricing, i.e., too high for what you get, yet it also performs like a typical Apple product, i.e., generally really well.

At least according to initial reviews, that is; I'm unlikely to experience this myself. Because I'm not an Apple guy (PC computers, Android phones, Amazon/Spotify music), I'm not looking to buy a HomePod. As such, I'm not going to pretend to review the product. Rather, what struck me was the irony of the state of the smart speaker market, and a lot of the blame lies with Apple.

I've owned an Amazon Echo since day one. I preordered the product when it was announced and had it setup in my apartment by Christmas 2014, that first generation product that came with it's own remote control (which I've never used and I'm not really sure where it is right now). Since then,…

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I went and saw The Last Jedi shortly after it came out and at first I didn't really feel like writing a thing about it. Why? Because the film just left me apathetic; I just didn't care. But I've been seeing arguments and counter-arguments fly back and forth, especially the aggregate professional critic (very high) versus the aggregate viewer (pretty low) scores. So, what the heck, here's my two cents' worth. And because I want to work myself up to a proper, full venting, there will be spoilers a-plenty.

We join the action shortly after the events of The Force Awakens. The Resistance (with no clear idea of what they're actually resisting) is fleeing from the relentless pursuit of The First Order (with no clear idea of what their order actually is). Death is closing in on our less-than-plucky heroes. Much running ensues.

And that's it, the entire plot in a nutshell. Yes, Rey (Daisy Ridley) goes off to receive training from Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). But it…

John Wick: Chapter 2

Later this month, John Wick Chapter 2 will be available for digital download, followed in mid-June by its release on Blu-Ray. So it's time to acknowledge that Chapter 2 is a master class in how to make a sequel. While building on the events of 2014's John Wick, it expands in logical fashion and generally avoids the pitfalls of just trying to repeat itself. The result is that I love both films, but for very different reasons.

John Wick's (Keanu Reeves) rampage over the murder of his dog has signaled the dark world he left behind that maybe he's back and not really retired. As a result, Santino D'Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) calls in a marker, compelling Wick to once more become a gun-for-hire. Massive running gun battles, legendary feats of gun fu, betrayal, lots of betrayal, and general, all-around great mayhem ensue.

JW was a delight for anyone in love with physical acting and action. Not only was it praise-worthy that Reeves did most of his own stunt work, the exte…

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

With its release on home video, we come to the unsurprising and yet still bitter disappointment that is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Unsurprising, because of a lousy director. Disappointing, because it should have been great. To explain further will involve light spoilers; I will avoid larger giveaways. In a galaxy far, far away, the Empire continues to consolidate its power after the fall of the Republic (see Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith). Toward that end, they are assembling a giant battle station, the Death Star. The Rebel Alliance plots a way of finding out what’s going on and perhaps, in the process, save their collective butts. Rebellious galivanting ensues. All of the elements necessary to craft a good story are here, yet none of them work. The blame lies almost exclusively at the feet of director Gareth Edwards. This is his third film (after Monsters and Godzilla) and his failings as a director stand out in each. The major problems with each film involve the peopl…