Checkpoint: New House Edition

It’s been a long time since I posted one of these and with good reason. It’s been a very busy time in our lives. I sold my old place and moved to a new one.

The latter half of 2020 was spent futzing over details on how to sell the house, purging/organizing personal belongings, and trying to figure out what we will need in the new place. You would think it would be easier while working from home, trying to juggle house related things while staying engaged with work is tougher than it ought to be.

Smarter House

Nest Hello, TP-Link smart light switches, smart garage door opener, smart stove, smart fridge, smart washers/dryers. I went from just a Nest Protect and Nest to everything has wi-fi now. For the most part, it works very well. The light switches are very convenient and the door bell saves us a trip to the door, but the smart appliances in the kitchen leave a lot to be desired. The smartness of the washer and dryer are a must for us considering they’re now tucked away in the basement.

Nothing Fits; Everything Must Go

We moved bedroom furniture, 5.1 surround speakers, and other stuff thinking it would work in the new space, but it turns out that’s not the case at all and we’re undergoing a post-move purge as well. Bed frames, headboards, and my entire Harman Kardon 5.1 surround system were sold or in the process of being sold. On the plus side, we’ll get stuff that better fits our new space.

Sound Bar Life

I purchased these Sanus speaker stands and it turns out they aren’t compatible with my speaker mounts at all. Frustrated and fed up with the whole setup, I’m ready to move on and just live the high quality sound bar life. Unfortunately, that life isn’t as simple as it should be and I’m better off just waiting until the latest sound bars launch and see how they fair. I was all set to either go for a Sonos Arc, JBL Bar 9.1, or the Samsung HW-Q950T, but they all had some kind of limitation or oversight that wasn’t okay with. So now I wait and live that TV speaker life.

New PC for me?

My gaming PC suddenly bit the dust. I hoped it was a power supply, but after swapping it out without any luck, I isolated it to either the motherboard or the CPU. The ASUS Z270i PRO GAMING board has troubleshooting LEDs, but only the standby lights up. I’ve been meaning to upgrade for a while; I wanted to return to AMD with their Ryzen 5 5600X. I was about to shove that new PC into the trusty BitFenix Prodigy case, but then I realized I would be building this new PC just to sit there. The GeForce GTX 1070 is very long in the tooth and I spend most of my time on the new consoles.

So this new PC will be for the fiancee who will be more than happy with the GTX 1070. She primarily plays shooters like CS:GO, Valorant, and Overwatch on a 1440p 144Hz monitor so this video card coupled with that new AMD Ryzen CPU should work well. We’ll also be able to eventually get rid of that huge NZXT case of hers. It’s just a beast of a case that I find unnecessary.

I thought it was going to be quite difficult to obtain the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X CPU, but I lucked out and managed to get my name onto a list at Canada Computers and was able to pick one up within a day or so. The challenge now is finding slim 120mm case fans which may or may not be necessary depending on how everything in the Cooler Master NR200P case that I chose for her ends up.

Gaming Limbo

I was in a bit of a gaming limbo as I purchased a copy of The Last of Us Part II late last year, but realized that it may receive a next-gen patch so I held off on it. Instead I’m just playing a lot of Apex Legends and Overwatch. I’m starting to dabble into Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order on the Xbox Series X, but it hasn’t taken root yet. I will probably stick with it, but we’ll see if that is actually the case.

I realized that I didn’t do my game of the year 2020 round-up in January due to all the commotion of life. I don’t believe I have enough 2020 games for a top 10 or maybe even a top 5, but I should find the time to document it all.

Research & More Research

Blinds, sound bars, and PCs. There’s a lot of research going on around here and I’m finding myself spending quite a bit of time looking up what’s the best for us. It’s been a long time since I went down so many rabbit holes at once, but it’s been fun!

Checkpoint: Lockdown 2020 Edition

It’s been a while. Despite having all this time, I still haven’t found the time sit down and churn out some thoughts on here. We’ve been in this COVID-19 lockdown since March 12, 2020. What does that mean for us? We’ve been working from home and keeping to ourselves for all this time. I had to go into the office for a week’s rotation but besides that, it’s just been the two of us.

Home Life

We haven’t driven ourselves crazy. We’ve annoyed each other in playful ways but all this time together only reinforced our decision as life partners. We keep up with exercising via Ring Fit Adventure and regular 45 – 50 minute walks outside. We’re playing games, watching things, and just living out our “normal” lives. We certainly would be going more places if we weren’t lockdown but I feel at “home” with this routine.

You would think I would have more time to play games and such but by keeping up a work and home routine, we’re not truly “free” until the weekends or holidays. With that in mind, I’ve been keeping up with Overwatch and Apex Legends. Daily stints in those games along with Persona 5 Royal and Animal Crossing: New Horizons have given this lockdown a summer vacation feel.

I have a laundry list of games that I wish to chip away at in the near to immediate future:

  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps
  • Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE – Started but Persona 5 Royal nudged its way in
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake – Coming within the month
  • Gears 5 – Nearing completion but just need been dragging feet with it
  • Luigi’s Mansion 3 – Nearing completion but losing steam.


Nothing highlights the limitations of your workplace’s telework capabilities like a forced lockdown. Our whole world was rattled by this lockdown. In comparison, it looks like my brother’s private sector job hummed along without skipping a beat. Now people are scrambling to evaluate and implement plans to enable more and more people to work from home. I’m not surprised by any of it. Public service tend not to act on things until they’re forced to. And this lockdown is forcing a lot of departments to act. I’m just curious how much of it will stick around after the lockdown is eased.

Checkpoint: iPhone XR Edition

I bought my first smartphone on Tuesday, September 3rd , 2019. I’ve owned multiple iPhones over during the last 9 years but I never actually bought one for myself until now. My iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, and iPhone 6 were all hand-downs from my brother. Normally, I would just wait until he upgrades and happily use his old one but he has no intention of upgrading this year and iOS 13 is dropping iPhone 6 support.  

So after some deal hunting, patience, and a trade-in involving my old Nokia 2610 handset, I got myself an iPhone XR for just over $450 after taxes.  

Why the iPhone XR?

I’m staying in the Apple ecosystem. I like it. I like how it works with my iPad Pro 10.5″ and my MacBooks. I may not like their prices but I generally like Apple’s hardware. There’s no question that I would have preferred the iPhone XS over the XR but I’m not willing to pay over $700 for a phone let alone over $1000.  

I could have picked up an iPhone 8 for less but I wanted a paradigm shift in my smartphone experience.  An iPhone 8 is essentially a faster iPhone 6 from a user experience perspective. I wanted FaceID, edge-to-edge screen and Qi wireless charging. The iPhone 8 didn’t offer that and the iPhone XS costs a small fortune, so the iPhone XR was my only choice. 

Colors of the Rainbow 

Yellow would have been my first choice. Then red. But I chose white/silver because all they had were white or black.  

I’m content with the fit and finish of the iPhone XR. It feels familiar; it reminds me of an enlarged iPhone 6 married with an iPhone 4S. It’s not as slippery as the iPhone 6 but that’s a moot concern because it didn’t take long for me to put a Spigen case on it.  

6.1″ is too big  

I think the iPhone XR’s 6.1″ screen is too big. I preferred the XS’ 5.8″ but for whatever reason, Apple decided to squeeze the XR between the XS and XS Max. The form factor of the entire phone feels excessive in my hands and my poor pockets. I was finding the iPhone 6 a little too big so this XR is just a device of decadence in this regard.  

I’m quite certain I will get used to owning such a big phone. I felt the iPhone 6 was too big at one point and now I think it’s fine. However, I don’t know if the iPhone XR will win me over completely. When I’m considering crossbody bags and fanny packs just to carry my phone, I think phones may have gotten too big for my lifestyle. 

LCDs & pixels per inch 

OLED would have been my preferred choice of display technology for a pricey phone like the iPhone XR. I would also like a pixel density closer to 458 ppi like on the iPhone XS as well. And if I were paying anywhere close to the suggested retail prices and  launch or today, I would reconsider my choice of iPhone.  

Or I would if I were purely looking at specs. 

After a week or so of using the iPhone XR, I found the pixel density to be fine; it’s just like my iPhone 6’s. I was fine with that and I’m fine with this. 

Long Time Performer

This phone is fast. Very fast. And I appreciate every ounce of its speed. Everything from Face ID unlocking to launching and switching apps is just so much faster than the iPhone 6 and I’m spoiled by it.

I also appreciate how long I can use this phone without having to charge it. With my light use of Twitter, some browsing, and Spotify, I can go 3 or 4 days before having to charge it. Incredible.

It’s a fine phone 

The iPhone XR is a fine phone. It’s the iPhone for the masses and it’s easy to see why it’s so popular. With discounts and offers, this is a no brainer for anyone who’s looking to upgrade their iPhones without taking out a small loan. 

Checkpoint: Uncle Tetsu Edition

Just had a slice of Uncle Tetsu’s cheesecake and a madeleine. After we shared some Korean Fried Chicken from Go Gi Ya, we waited a whole hour for those Tetsu delights and it was worth it. But that’s the last time I go out of my way to wait a whole hour to get some cheesecake. It’s good but not worth the lineup.

I can see why many people prefer Tetsu to Rikuro but I am a fan of both. If I had to choose one, I’d choose Tetsu’s for its richer taste. Uncle Rikuro’s cheesecake airs on the fluffier and eggier side of things.

Ottawa asian food choices are blossoming and I’m all for it. Go Gi Ya on Bank leans more western with its Korean Fried Chicken and K-Bowls but it’s all made with Korean sauces sourced from South Korea. They have 3 other locations serving KBBQ and an expanded menu but we have yet to partake.

It’s been a busy couple of months. Helping my brother move out, pondering and picking stuff for our new house in 2020, and rejigging all sorts of IT infrastructure stuff within the house. I’m swapping PCs because my RVZ-02 just couldn’t handle that Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 1070 in that case. I think it was throttling and causing stutters in Wolfenstein II. I haven’t tested it yet but even if it doesn’t alleviate Wolfenstein II’s stutters, I should have a quieter gaming experience.

Game wise? I’ve been dabbling with Overwatch whenever an event kicks off but I’ve been primarily playing Apex Legends Season 2. I just hope I can continue playing it because I’m taking the plunge and cleaning out my PlayStation 4 Pro. While I’m in there, I’m going to replace the thermal compound in hopes of shaving off a few more degrees.

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