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.

Work

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.

Checkpoint: Banff Edition

Here I am watching episode 3 of Neon Genesis: Evangelion in a hotel in Banff. It’s an older hotel that radiates old wealth. I can see appreciate it for what it is but it isn’t my idea of an impressive hotel. I like my hotels modern.

At least I have adequate complimentary Wi-Fi to entertain me during the down time. The down time isn’t much but it’s enough to catch an episode of Evangelion on Netflix or Billions.

Banff is a sight to behold. Being completely surrounded by mountains and trees should be awe inspiring but there’s something about its abundance that I find conflicting. I feel like it’s unnatural to humans like myself. This isn’t where I belong. I somehow find a small piece of green space carefully curated by man to be far more fascinating than the vast forests and mountain ranges stretching across the landscape.

There’s also the clash between all this nature and all these people milling about trying to capture epic vistas for their social media pages. At least in a crafted garden, the touristy reality of the spot is apparent — I felt those spots were more honest to their nature. I find there’s a lack of authenticity to Banff. Many of the locations were operated by foreigners who hailed from other Commonwealth nations. All of this feels like I am paying a lot of money to breath in cleaner air and have beautiful background for me to wake up to. I’m neither fascinated nor engrossed by any of it.

Canada Day is coming up and there’s still much more to see. Maybe there’s still something out there that will make the hours of driving worth it.

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