2019 Toys that made enough sense to buy or subscribe to…

After reading a post on The Furrygoat’s Experience blog about his year in review, I decided to post the things that have made sense for me to purchase and sign up for. 2019 has been a rebuilding year, as the last couple of years have been doing things only out of necessity, not out of what I wanted to do. So, in no particular order, here’s some of the things that made sense for me this year:


  1. Disney+: Ummm, everything Disney which includes Star Wars, Pixar, and the Marvel Universe… for $7 a month… oookaaayyy, how do you NOT sign up for that? Bonus, the Mandalorian was good out of the gate. It’s not Firefly, but, hey, what is?
  2. Youtube Unlimited: NOT the TV Service. This is $11 a month to remove the ads from Youtube (and gives you the music service). Frankly, it’s sad that it’s worth it to remove the ads, but it truly is. I watch training and product videos, and nothing is worse than the ads popping up. Now that they are gone, I find myself actually using the video management feature rather than just searching all the time. Bonus, I did sign up for the TV service to be able to watch some things away from the house. Second Bonus, YouTube integrates with the Movies Anywhere platform, so my movies from everywhere else can be watched on Youtube.
  3. LinkedIn Learning / Groove 3 / Udemy: These three get lumped together for education. I find most of what I ‘watch’ comes from here, as I been working on learning new skills, and brushing up on my old ones. Some advice, before buying a class on Udemy, make sure you search for coupon codes, the classes should never be more than $10-15
  4. Mint.com: Actually free, but worth being a target for ads for. This one is a bit controversial, my friend and I go back and forth on this one. There’s no ‘paid’ tier, so there’s no way to get rid of the ads. For me, thought, it’s been very helpful, allowing me to finally retire Quicken. The betas of the iOS apps look promising, as they move the ads out of the main pages. Not sure if that’s good enough, but we’ll see. Hopefully they’ll offer a way to pay to get rid of the ads at some point.


  1. Apple TV to Apple TV 4K upgrade: I did this one because someone I know needed the older version, and hey, I wanted to get the latest and greatest Apple TV. Probably wasn’t worth the upgrade cost, but it does allow me to seriously think about a 4k TV in the nearer future
  2. Apple 16″ MacBook Pro: my iMac was OK, especially with the external SSD HD upgrade, but when a friend of mine gave me a 4k monitor, all hell broke loose. To get the monitor to actually work required changing out my Thunderbolt 2 dock to a thunderbolt 3 dock, changing the display types, and various other machinations. In the end, the good discounts on the MBPs and the desire for more CPU / better video card won out over common sense, so the new MBP came home. So far, it’s been a good upgrade, as it’s got me back to using the computer. The iMac just wasn’t inspiring. For next time, always upgrade the memory. I didn’t this time, and am already kicking myself a bit. I’ll survive, but I should have gone 32 gigs…
  3. iPhone 11 Pro Max: Ok, somewhat better name than the XS Max, still horrible. Basically, it was a photographer’s upgrade. The camera and the software that works with the cameras is amazing. The battery is better. Everything else is the same. One word of warning, though. If you are sending back an iPhone to AT&T, MAKE SURE TO GET THE TRACKING NUMBER!!!!!!
  4. AirPod Pros: This is a no-brainer for me. I work in a rather noisy office. The noise cancellation feature made these an automatic purchase. Great upgrade over the AirPods. I just hope the battery life is better than before. The AirPods had a nasty problem of the charge that they held went to 1/2 in months (my talk time went from 2 hours to 1 in a shockingly short amount of time). This time, AppleCare was offered, and I’ve bought that for them if the battery charge dies like that again.

This year has been a great tech year. Finally, some compelling reasons to upgrade and some very compelling services. Looking forward to 2020!

Movie Review from my point of view… Iron Man 3

Been a while since I did a ‘movie review’ or felt strongly enough to SAY anything about a movie.  After last year’s wonderful movie releases, including the Avengers, Spiderman, Brave, Batman, and Wreck-It Ralph, I was hoping for more great movies this year, with Iron Man 3 leading the way…

Unfortunately, Iron Man 3 didn’t deliver.

These are just some random thoughts that I’ve had from watching the movie.

The movie was OK at best.  It felt very disjointed and kinda hard to follow.  My guess is that there’s about 30 – 40 minutes of footage on the cutting room floor that would absolutely make the movie flow better.  Kinda like Episodes I through III of Star Wars.  The cutting room floor stuff actually made the movies make sense.

***mild spoiler alert***

IM3 seemed to be cut from a very different cloth than One and Two.  It felt like the studio said, ‘Hey look at how successful the Batman movies were!  Let’s make this one just like the final Batman movie, all dark and serious and stuff!’

The beginning with the voice over was really weird.  It was almost like they took the opening sequence from the first movie with the time bump, but tried to let a voice over explain it instead of letting the people / actors / scenes tell the story.  Plus, the one liners feel very flat, and cheesy.  The other Marvel movies seem to be very light hearted, with the jokes being able to be tossed out with a second thought.  In this movie, every joke is almost cringe worthy.

The next disappointing element… the music.  Where’s the AC/DC?  How about Black Sabbath?  Good ol’ hard rock & heavy metal?  The hip hop doesn’t cut it for this movie.

For me, the biggest disappointment is that Tony Stark doesn’t get to *be* Tony Stark.  Downey Jr. makes the character the likable a-hole because of his playfulness and just ‘fun’ spirit. That is so crushed in this movie.  Stark is dour, moody, uncertain, and generally miserable throughout the entire movie.  If I wanted that, I’d go watch Batman.  The arrogant, fun, playboy that everyone wants to party with is completely missing.

One good thing is that you get to see more of Pepper Potts.  She has a bit screen time in this one.  Unfortunately, it didn’t feel like she and Stark connected that much, not like the first movie or the Avengers.

As much as I hate to say it, the Iron Man movies are probably done.  It seems Hollywood is in love with the format of 3 movies, then retell the first one again.  It’s truly ironic that the latest Spiderman summed it up pretty nicely (I’m paraphrasing)… ‘There is only one storyline; the main character discovering who he/she is’.  I think that’s why the original stories are always so intriguing.  We don’t really care that a hero is doing hero work, we want to know why they became a hero in the first place.  Unfortunately, that bites the comic book stories in the rear.  Three movies isn’t a lot of time to develop a character.

Will Downey Jr be back for the second Avengers movie is anyone’s guess.

Pirates of the Caribbean Review

I’ll keep this short and sweet… It Rocks! Excellent movie, great ending, great setup for the next one. So far, this has been the best movie of the summer. Yes I saw Superman. It was OK, but nothing to write about. POC/DMC is just pure fun. It’s a long movie that you will not want to move a minute for.

Quick ‘Da Vinci Code’ movie review

Ok, I confess, I went to go see Ron Howard’s ‘The Da Vinci Code’ this weekend.  I wish that I hadn’t.


I enjoyed the book.  It was a fun read, blending a bit of history with an interesting story.  It reminds me of Tom Clancy’s ‘The Hunt for Red October’.  Unfortunately, the movie fell short.  Too much focus on the religious aspect, and very little focus on the characters.


Oh well, there’s always ‘Over the Hedge’.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire ROCKS!!!!!

Wow!  I just finished watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire…  This completely makes up for ‘Prizoner of Azkaban’. 
First off, I have a standard statement about movies that are made off of books.  The movie is going to be different from the books.  I don’t like it any more than anyone else who is a fan of the books, but there is far too much material in the book to stuff into 2 1/2 hours of movie.  BUT, they did an EXCELLENT job of capturing the points that make the story move forward.  One of the things that really bothered me in the movie version of ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ was that there were a LOT of things in the movie that made no sense UNLESS one had read the book.  There was much significance in the symbols and events that were not even close to explained during the movie.  That’s not the case with Goblet of Fire.  The movie really captured the essense of the book.  There was only one or two places where the story hiccuped a bit, and I’ll bet every Harry Potter fan noticed.  Fortunately, it in no way, shape, or form distracted from the movie.
Final verdict… Awesome movie that I’ll be seeing again before the weekend is over.

‘Serenity’ review

All I can say is… wow!  I loved the TV series, and wished they had run far longer than 11 shows.  I bought the DVD’s as soon as they were available.  I like the fact that Joss Wheaton focused on the character interaction rather than the special effects (come to think of it, that’s why I like the new Battlestar Galatica).  I like the special effects, but I’ve grown out of movies/shows that are only special effects (else I’d have loved Revenge of the Sith).  I really like the fact there was humor thrown in everywhere, even when the situation was dire.  You do have to listen really well to what everyone says, as those are the funniest remarks.
About the only thing that I didn’t like is the ‘unreal’ saves.  It reminds me of some of the writings of Terry Brooks.  Sorta like… "Things can’t get worse, things get worse, things can’t get worse, things get worse, poof, we made it through with no problems."  There are some surprises, but the ending does get a little bit out there…
Hopefully, there will be more movies in this series, or that they will revive the TV series..

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Quick review of Charlie…  The original book was creepy… The first movie was creepy…  This movie is creepy…
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a good ‘rainy-day’ kind of movie.  The thing that I liked about it was the music.  It was VERY twisted….  I LOVED the parody taken straight from ‘Spinal Tap’. 

Quick ‘Sith’ Review…

Just walked in from seeing ‘Revenge of the Sith’…  THIS is the movie all the fans were waiting for.  We finally get two things… Bad Guys being BAD! and music everywhere.  Episode I and II didn’t really have much in the way of bad guys…  The worst thing Darth Maul did was have an unconditional urge to flash Jedi…  Dooku?  What, is it a crime to have a really stupid name that rhythms with doo-doo?  If you remember, the first thing Darth Vader did in the original movie was STRANGLE a guy!  He’s a BAD DUDE!  The other thing that really bothered me about this whole series was how disconnected it was.  Each movie jumps 5 – 10 years at a time.  The original series was set over the space of a couple of years.  Characters were the same in all three movies.  In the prequel series, it’s a different set of characters in EVERY movie.  And why the heck did EVERYTHING have to tie back together?  Can’t there be a LITTLE bit of mystery?  Ok, enough of the ranting of the things that went wrong with the series.  I personally wish Episode I and II didn’t exist, and Episode III was I, but I’m not George Lucas. 

I did like the movie.  I will have to see it at least once more in the theater, and will DEFINITELY buy the DVD.

Long and short… For Star Wars fans, it is a very good movie.  For people who get drug along, it’s bearable.  If you wish Star Wars didn’t exist, don’t walk in the theater.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…

I got to see the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy this weekend.  Well, I STILL haven’t made up my mind if I like it or not.  I LOVED the book, but the humor has become a little ‘faded’.  Hitchhiking is now associated with mass murders, and making up words is much better left to J.R.R. Tolkien.  The movie had some very cool scenes, and the aliens felt like they were THERE, not some blue screen insert.  All in all, probably not a bad way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon, but don’t expect too much.

‘Robots’, Ho-hum…

I have to say that I agree with my friend Rick about ‘Robots’.  I had to drag some friends to go see it.  They thought it so bad that I may have lost those friends!  (just kidding).  Actually, I think it made a LITTLE more sense than Rick did, as I sorta understood the Briteny Spears scene.  (Don’t ask… )  It seemed like all the really funny parts were shown in the trailer.  I just hope Star Wars isn’t like that, great trailer, terrible movie…