Got a Refurbished Windows Desktop PC, only paid $144 for it and here’s why [Updated]   Leave a comment

 

I got it from Amazon. Here is the listing.

 

It doesn’t come with a monitor but that wasn’t a problem for me since I just used the one from my broken Desktop with it. Works just fine. First thing I did was open it up and quickly discovered there’s no room for a second 3.5 inch HDD. There IS room for a 2.5 inch HDD–that’s the kind used in laptops–or an SSD which is always 2.5 inches. I have two Laptop HDDs I’m currently using with enclosures. One is 250GB. The other is 500GB. The SATA wires I bought for the connection should be sufficient but I’ll hold off installing the second HDD for a while longer.

That’s because I plan to buy this hopefully sometime in December along with an Enclosure for it. I originally planned to buy a 3.5 inch 2TB HDD first but after thinking about it, I figure it might make more sense for me to swap the system drive with this 4TB version instead of the 2TB version. What I could do then is fit the entire 1.5TB worth of data I currently have spread across 3 hard drives–two are basically serving as backups–and still have PLENTY of room to spare. I would also free up those three hard drives plus the one that came with this computer for other things.

I figured out I saved myself $100 when I realized I could simply reformat one of these hard drives to work with my PS4. I planned to buy an external hard drive for my 500GB PS4 Pro but now I don’t have to once I move things around to free up my HDDs. Once I buy the 4TB HDD and swap it into the computer, it’s just a matter of then deciding which secondary drive I want to add. I would use that secondary drive to exclusively store my Video Podcasts and Audio podcasts. Since I also have a 256GB USB Drive I’m currently using with my PS4 that would be freed up, I’d have that as a secondary backup for my PS4. By default, my 500GB Laptop HDD would go to my PS4. That would double my PS4’s storage capacity (It has a 500GB HDD already).

Like I told a few friends in recent weeks, I have had a problem with having enough local storage to cover my needs for almost 20 years at this point. Those problems should permanently end with the purchase of the 4TB HDD hopefully early next month. After doing all this, I would still be left with the 750GB HDD from my old broken Desktop. I recently got around to testing the OS and unfortunately the OS is broken. The HDD is still good though so what I’ll try is make a USB Windows Recovery Key and use that to try torepair the OS without wiping the HDD. If I’m not able to fix the OS that way, I’ll have to wait until I get the 4TB HDD to back up everything and reformat it later.

Moving on. The laptop I use at home now is literally falling apart. I’ll continue using it until it completely stops working and then scrap the computer. Of course, I’ll salvage the 500GB HDD it came with too. I assume this laptop will continue working after I at least get the 4TB HDD next month since it’s lasted this long. When the computer stops working, I’ll swap it with the other laptop I got last year and barely used since that HDD is only 250GB.

I plan to swap the hard drive in that laptop with a 2TB 2.5 inch laptop HDD early next month. It’ll work fine and the hard drive I take out will be put somewhere for safekeeping as an external backup storage. I considered just swapping in the 500GB HDD in this laptop into my other laptop but then again I would probably need to upgrade it anyway so I figure I get a new HDD with 8 times the storage size of the one already in it. I put in a 2TB HDD, I can fit the 1.5TB worth of data I mentioned earlier onto a laptop if I want to. At the very least that will include my entire iTunes Library and most of my current Steam Library.

I mentioned earlier my new Desktop has room for a 2.5 inch Laptop HDD or SSD. I’m thinking I’ll get a second 2TB Laptop HDD to act as a secondary storage in the desktop. It would house my Audio and Video Podasts as well as be a hard local backup for iCloud and Google Photos Libraries. Yes, I planned THAT far ahead!

 

 

 

I bought this cool device a few months back to solve a minor problem and wish it existed 5 years ago! It’s an HDMI Switch Box and it’s good for those of you who have more than two HDMI-supported devices hooked up to one TV. In my case I have a Blu Ray Player (yes, really), a Roku and a PS4. I would have to swap the HDMI cable for my PS4 or Blu Ray Player but not anymore. Yes, I know the PS4 can play Blu Ray movies. I prefer to have a separate Blu Ray Player for watching DVD and Blu Ray personally is all. It’s simpler for me to do that personally too.

 

On a somewhat related note. The combined movies, TV Shows and Music I’ve bought digitally over the last 16 or so years is almost 1TB, most of that to Movies and TV Shows obviously. Once I get the 4TB HDD, I’ll probably be able to have a hard copy of everything on one computer for the first time ever. No, I probably wouldn’t actually do that with the Movies and TV Shows though since I can simply stream all of them right now. Certain ones I’ll definitely download though. My Music though, I’ll definitely keep a hard copy on my computers. Since I got this switchbox, I have room for two more devices. Both will go to future game console purchases.

 

 

Amazon.com: Microsoft Authorized Refurbished- HP Elite Desktop PC Computer Intel Core i5 3.1-GHz, 8 gb Ram, 1 TB Hard Drive, DVDRW, 19 Inch LCD Monitor, Keyboard, Mouse, USB WiFi, Windows 10 (Renewed) : Electronics

 

It’s a buyers’ market right now for Refurbished PCs.

I know most of the world is OBSESSED with Smartphones right now and that is ironically what is driving down the demand for desktop computers in particular. People think just because Smartphones’ processing power is as good as a PC and they’re portable that they don’t need a computer at home anymore. Not true. For one, most computers–new and refurbished–cost only a fraction of most new smartphones these days. You go with a refurbished computer and you can pay as low as I did for this. Want a refurbished Chromebook, you might pay as little as $60 on just Amazon.

These days, most who buy several refurbished computers and aren’t teachers buy them to have their own home network. This usually involves setting up a server with mass storage capabilities. If you ever worked in an office with an internal network for employees to share data, it’s the same idea: You set up a computer to act as the “Server” which links every other computer connected to it. I wouldn’t do something like that unless I had my own apartment at least but the mass storage capabilities is what I’m going for.

Oh and I do plan to buy another refurbished PC at some point in the future. That second PC would be strictly for backup storage and would almost never be connected to the internet. I would only connect it to the internet to do periodic updates and nothing else. I wouldn’t use it for anything but data storage is why. That’ll be a purchase for when I have the money to spend because I would put an 8TB or bigger HDD in it plus another one as a secondary drive. When I’m not backing things up to it, that PC tower would be disconnected and in storage.

Wait, what about all the extra hard drives I’ll likely have by early February? After I finish moving data around, I’ll probably reformat most of them. The  250GB one in my other laptop I probably won’t reformat. I will just keep it storage for “just in case” in short. The 500GB laptop HDD I’m currently using for mass media storage with an enclosure will go to my PS4 like I said before. I’ll keep my 750GB HDD in storage.

The 250GB laptop I’m currently using for photo and document storage with an enclosure will probably be reformatted and kept for mass storage. Same for the 500GB HDD in my new PC when I replace it with the 4TB HDD hopefully in early January. If you lost count, I’ll have 1.5TB worth of extra storage. This is excluding the hard drive I won’t reformat as well. Like I said a few times earlier, I probably won’t have storage problems anymore by early February!

 

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The Prices of Personal Computers have sharply dropped, haven’t they?   Leave a comment

Laptops And Desktops: How Long Do They Last? - Empower IT Solutions

Back in 2013, I bought my now former Desktop PC for $300. Came with a monitor, tower, printer, keyboard and mouse plus the cords to run everything. This was about a year after I bought my last laptop–then a high-end machine–for about $500.

Today, you can buy a pretty decent Desktop PC for $150 to $250 on Amazon.

One thing I learned from when I owned both a Laptop and a Desktop at the same time is Desktops last a hell of a lot longer. Someone donated a laptop to me early last year just as the Pandemic started shutting things down. It started coming apart 6 months later (September 2020). Just so folks know, It never left the desk in my bedroom. Ever. One morning, a screw popped out. Now, the laptop is literally falling apart. It’s literally in two halves right now. I plan to keep using it until the wires connecting the monitor half to the motherboard fail at this point. Either that or I get a new deskop tower.

Speaking of. Although I had to throw out my old desktop PC, the monitor and keyboard still work fine. So, I’m saving at least $100 just buying a tower (comes with keyboard and mouse). Oh and I also salvaged the Hard Driive (750GB). I haven’t reformatted it–yet–but I did back up my media files onto two laptop hard drives I also salvaged. I have an enclosure for all 3 former Internal hard drives–I made sure to buy some last spring–so I suffered no data loss.  I mostly use my current laptop to use the internet, blogging and playing games on the Steam platform.

I actually did get another laptop donated to me last Fall but aside from work-related uses, it stays in its case in my closet. In short, I rarely use it becaue I don’t want to wear it out. The laptop I’m using right now has a 500GB HDD while the other one has a 250GB HDD. The Two Laptop Hard Drives total 750GB combined while the salvaged Desktop PC Hard Drive is 750GB for a grand total of 1.5TB worth of extra storage. That’s excluding my almost 15 year old 500GB external hard drive that I’m honestly trying to not use until after I’ve gotten a new Desktop PC if I can avoid it.

 

I have two Desktop PC towers I’m looking at from Amazon right now. Both are Windows PCs. I plan to buy both of them but will buy the cheaper one first. Above is a picture of said cheaper machine. If it looks like the kind you’d see in a school or office, I’m just gonna go ahead and assume that’s where this refurbished machine is coming from. It’s got a 500GB Hard Drive but I’m gonna swap it with the 750GB Hard Drive I pulled from my broken tower–I never reformatted it–and make the 500GB drive the secondary drive. For those who don’t know, PC towers always have room for a second hard drive or a second optical drive (CD/DVD Drive).

If I can fit two hard drives in this, I may have to buy another SATA Cable to connect the second drive internally. I looked up what to do online so it makes the most sense for me to make the 750GB HDD I already have the system or Primary Drive while the one it comes with is made the secondary drive. I looked up what to do online so I’ll know once I get this tower what I can and can’t do. I basically just took the hard drive out of my broken desktop but I don’t remember taking out the SATA Cable for it. I still have the broken tower sitting in my room. The SATA Cable is still good so I’ll see what I can figure out once I buy this. If I need to buy a replacement SATA Cable, I’ll do that.

Mind you, I’m still planning to replace both hard drives with much bigger hard drives later on. First I’ll buy a 2TB HDD I’ve been looking at and put that in as the secondary drive. once it’s set up, I can put everything on my 750GB HDD on it–that’ll total about 600GB if I did the math in my head right–and then factory reset the HDD to get back to space if I want to. As a reminder, it will still function as the system drive…until I get a 4TB HDD in as the new system drive. Once that’s done, I’ll have a grand total of 6TB worth of storage on the PC and NEVER have storage issues EVER again.

 

I have a 3.0 USB Hub I’m using with my current laptop that I can use with this one to add more ports. The tower’s $141 price tag makes it a very easy priority buy. It will cover my immediate need for a dedicated Home PC. Oh and it also has 8GB of RAM. I have 4GB of additional RAM (2GB x2) from my broken PC that I already salvaged. I’ll probably add the extra RAM to this one.

Speaking of my broken PC. I figured out the Power Supply Unit (PSU) needs to be replaced. The hard drive is good obviously and I can easily put back the RAM I removed. The CD/DVD drive is no longer functional but since I bought an external CD/DVD drive last year, that’s not a problem for me. Oh and I would still have the 500GB HDD from this refurbished computer to put in as a secondary drive if I wanted to. In short, I would have two PCs with 7.25TB between them.

 

 

 

This is the other Desktop PC I plan to buy. Why? Because it comes with two hard drives: A MONSTEROUS 2TB HDD and a 120GB SSD as well. I’m assuming the 120 SSD (Solid State Drive) is the system drive and I’m fine with that. Like the other tower, it also comes with 8GB of RAM. I plan to buy more RAM for this one though. The $250 price tag makes this quite the deal to say the least. I plan to use this PC Tower primarily for Mass Media Storage and Physical Data Backup. I will probably keep this one in storage while I’m not using it. I’ll either get a VGA Switch box or just use the other one with my existing monitor.

 

Before I forget. I’ve recently heard a lot about SSDs and what I’ve heard is overwhelmingly positive. I’m not very familiar with SSDs personally but clearly I’ll need to look into them. More so given most new computers are being made with them already built in from now on. Most SSDs are the same size as laptop hard drives but are faster, more energy efficient and cheaper than traditional hard drives. My biggest drawback to them is there are not a lot of them over 240GB. What that means is even with the SSD as the system drive, you’re still gonna need a traditional HDD as your primary storage drive. Fortunately, you can buy get a 2TB HDD for $50 or less these days.

I forgot to mention this earlier but all PC Towers have space for two hard drives inside. If you remove the optical drive (CD/DVD) you can put another hard drive there. Actually, you can have up to 26 hard drives–one for each letter of the alphabet–connected to a single computer at the same time. I mean both internal and external combined on that note. Unlike in the 1990s when most computers maxed at around 40GB to 80GB on average, These days most computers have a 500GB to 1TB hard drive on average. This is aside from the fact you can buy Hard Drives that are 1TB or more for well under $100 these days. Want to use an Internal Hard Drive Externally? buy an Enclosure, put the HDD in it and connect it via USB.

 

 

 

….I STILL can’t believe someone is selling a Refurbished version of the first one for $250. It comes with a MASSIVE 1TB HDD and that’s why I’m sorely tempted to buy it. Or, when I have the income I may buy it New for $360. The biggest drawback is it only comes with 4GB of RAM. Then there’s the other two laptops. The middle one is $440 but comes with a 1TB HDD and 16GB of RAM. The bottom one is $420 but comes with a 2TB HDD and 8GB of RAM. I’ll only need one so…yeah.

I’m not in a rush deciding but I’m leaning toward the third one since it does come with a Number Pad. Not a deal breaker in regards to the other two though. Whichever of the three I get, It goes with me everywhere for work, conventions and when traveling. Right now I have a half dozen USB Drives as well as 3 external hard drives so I’ll probably never have storage problems ever again.

 

 

Finally, I also plan to buy a Chromebook. I found one on Amazon for $50 to $60.

Why get a Chromebook, a Desktop AND a Laptop? Well, I DO already have an iPad. I’d get a Chromebook primarily for streaming and using the internet away from home. Yes I can do both with my iPad already but for me, it would be easier for to do those functions from a Chromebook and I wouldn’t feel like I have to travel everywhere with both my iPad and laptop or Chromebook.

When I’m just traveling around the Boston Area on errands within a day’s time for example, my iPad and Chromebook would be sufficient. If I’m going to work, Anime Boston, staying in a hotel or doing a sleepover away from home I’ll probably bring both my laptop and iPad with me.

When I’m using public transit, I’ll turn my phone’s Hotspot on for internet access. When on a bus or the subway, I’ll just use my iPad since I’m typically not on them for very long. If I’m on the Commuter Rail or Motorcoach I’ll probably use the Chromebook since I know I won’t be getting off for at least 30 minutes.

Before I had both a Laptop and Desktop at the same time earlier this year, I went through laptops every 2 to 3 years before that and given I paid over $1,000 per laptop, naturally that’s not really sustainable. I basically used them so much daily, they just wore down and stopped working. What’s really amazing though is I never suffered data loss. When I had both a Desktop and a laptop, I used my Desktop while home and my laptop while away from home.

 

Best hard drives 2021: the best HDDs to save all your data | TechRadar

By now, you’re probably wondering why I feel I need so much storage.

My media library–Photos, Music, Podcasts, TV Shows and Movies–is around 400GB and that excludes what I have on Google Drive, Google Photos and iCloud (another 100GB or so worth of media if I remember right). The Computer games I currently play are around…I wanna say another 200GB total. This excludes My Blizzard games (World of Warcraft, Starcraft II, etc.) combined are another 250GB to 300GB. All these barely fit on a 750GB HDD. Getting a Roku meant I could buy movies or TV shows rom iTunes and instead of downloading them–I need a new iPod Touch on that note–I could just stream them on the Apple TV App from my TV.

…Being able to download my media means I can watch everything without relying on an internet connection. Once I get my Desktop situation sorted out, I won’t have storage problems anymore. Even if I do decide to try to fix my broken PC and move hard drives around, I’ll still have my laptop HDDs. I’ll be able to reformat both of them by that point and when I do, I’ll use one–probably the 500GB one–with my PS4. I’ll use my 250GB HDD to move things between my computers. It should be fine for just that purpose.

 

Right now, I have 3 Hard Drives that are covering my storage needs but I’ll feel a whole lot better once I have a new Desktop PC. If things work out for me, I should have one as soon as next month. I’ll then get a Chromebook in December and then get a laptop sometime early next year hopefully.

Time will tell but if you’d like to financially help move things along, feel free to use the PayPal Links below and above. The help will be appreciated of course.

 

 

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1990s R & B star R. Kelly found GUILTY of Sex Trafficking, Racketeering and other charges   Leave a comment

R Kelly 'disappointed celeb friends didn't offer money' before trial | Metro News

 

It was a long time coming but finally, this man is going to find out what it likes to be on the other side of a gang rape. If he’s lucky, someone doing life in prison will lynch him because this son of a bitch deserves it.

 

Once again, a prediction by MAD TV was proven accurate (sorry about the bad quality):

This Parody of R. Kelly’s “World’s Greatest” MAD TV did after his first case 20 years ago in which he was indeed convicted.

I’ve made my opinion of R. Kelly clear in two previous blog posts. One I wrote in 2013 and the other I wrote in 2019. I strongly recommend reading both of them.

Michael Jackson once said one of the reasons he made music was so he could live forever through his songs. Unfortunately for him and his family–more so in recent years–the child molestation trials and accusations from the early 90s and early 2000s permanently stained his otherwise legendary music career. I still respect Michael Jackson as a person and an artist personally but I obviously have a VERY different opinion of R. Kelly.

…R. Kelly’s entire music career should be erased from history. Even more so now.

Every online platform should remove his music and every store should remove his albums from shelves. Not just in the U.S. but worldwide. The one exception would be the iconic song “I Believe I Can Fly”, which is a part of the soundtrack for the 1995 movie Space Jam. If you think that’s “excessive”, the alternative is to include a warning label notifying buyers the album was made by a well known repeat convicted Pedophile, Sex Addict and Serial Rapist which he is. A third idea would be for the money from future album or song sales to be given to R. Kelly’s dozens of victims.

I watched a recap of the conviction on Court TV and CNN. There were times the audio or video had to be cut during the trial because of how graphic the evidence or testimony was. Reporters who got access to the audio recordings or heard the graphic testimony in person had to recap this without going into detail. R. Kelly is a monster. Full stop. His extranged daughter Joann “Buku Abi” Kelly revealed a few years ago she had been having trouble finding work because of who her father is and even had to drop out of college because he stopped paying her tuition.

This is an aspect of high-profile legal cases you almost never hear from: How the case impacts the family of the Defendant. While the focus is on the victims as it rightfully should be, certain questions about a Defendant’s family naturally come up in the often ruthless court of public opinion. In the case of rapists, pedophiles and murderers it’s usually “What kind of family did they come from for them to turn out like that?”

All that said. This man is finally going where he should have gone 20 years ago. I do feel bad for his daughter who will have to carry the shame for the rest of her life. Hopefully this man doesn’t have any love children anywhere either.

 

 

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The story behind Peacock TV’s upcoming Drama “Bel-Air” legitimized fan-made trailers   Leave a comment

Bel-Air': Peacock Gives 2-Season Order To 'The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air' Drama Reboot – Deadline

 

If you are a fan of WIll Smith’s 6-Season 90s Sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, you may have at least heard of the new TV Series Peacock TV requested two seasons of last year.

This is the Fanmade Viral Movie Trailer that started it all:

 

Closing in on almost 7 Million Views, the trailer went viral when it was first released two years ago. The Fan Project was released at a time similar mockups were becoming very popular on YouTube. This one struck a chord with fans of the original 90s sitcom it was inspired by and before long, it was brought to WIll Smith’s attention.

Smith himself was so impressed by the video, he did something he didn’t have to: He took the idea to Peacock–giving full credit to the creator of the video of course–which liked the idea of a more “serious” version of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air so much, they actually requested 2 seasons up front. A few weeks ago Will Smith contacted Jabari Parker (not the basketball player), a fresh out of college actor from West Philadelphia to personally tell Parker he won the lead role Smith made famous 30 years ago.

Smith, who will be the new show’s Executive Producer brought Benny Medina, Quincy Jones and others who worked on the original show on board for Bel Air. It’s too early to tell or know if any of the original cast will make appearances in the new show but if any of them do appear, it will go a long way in endorsing it. I they do make appearance it will likely be as a cameo and most of them would probably not reprise their roles from the original show. We still don’t know all of which characters will be back though based on the fan trailer we can safely assume Will’s Mom, Aunt Viv, Uncle Phil, Carlton, Hillary and Jazz will be in. We will have to wait and see if Ashley or Geoffry are also included but they probably will be.

On that note. I want to take a moment to say something to those who don’t like the idea of reimagined versions of past shows or movies: It does’t matter what you think. The original version is still out there if you want to watch it. It is NOT being replaced. Oh and yes I know it makes absolutely no sense for the original 6-season show, which aired on NBC originally to be on HBO Max so hopeully Peacock TV can cut a deal to get both the show and last year’s reunion special from them ASAP.

Bel Air will be a more serious version of the 1990s Sitcom and each episode is expected to be an hour long. There will definitely be some lighter moments though the tone for the new show is clear. Even though the original was a sitcom, it’s easy to forget the show also covered a LOT of tough topics from Gun Violence (Will gets shot) to Absent Fathers (Arguably the best moment in the entire series) to what “Black Success” means to different people (Carlton gets rejected by a sorrority for not being “Black enough”).

Smith himself has not held back his excitement with how the new show could approach certain themes. He named Carlton being an unapologetic Black Republican as the one of the big ones. Will and Carlton butted heads a lot over the course of most of the show because of how vast the difference in values they had was. The episode in which Will gets shot–Carlton was with Will when it happened–sparked a conversation between him and his father as well as him and Will that caused a paradigm shift in how he viewed the world. To that point, he legit believed because his family was rich and his father was a district judge, he would have no serious problems in life. Will getting shot and then being told the suspect may never be found shattered the sense of safetly he felt up to that point and he decides to buy a gun. Fortunately, Will stepped in since he realized Cartlon would only end up ruining his life otherwise.

Uncle Phil’s evolution during the course of the show can of course be attributed to the actor who played him, the late James Avery. At the beginning, he and Will often butted heads and this was one of the ongoing themes of the show’s run. It was after Will’s father, who’d been out of the picture for most of his life suddenly walked back in and then out again that Will realized he already had a father who was there and was looking out for him. We see a throwback to their emotional moment at the end of that episode in the final episode of the show when Uncle Phil looks at Will and tells him “You are my son”.

The pacing of the original series allowed the introduction and development of extended family. We find out from Uncle Phil’s parents his real name is actually Zeke or Ezekiel, meaning his full name is probably Ezekiel Philip Banks or Philip E. Banks. One of the biggest surprises after the actress change for Vivian Banks was when Will’s mom was introduced on the show. It was not the same actress who plays his mother in the opening credits! We do find out from her that Will moving to Bel Air was meant to be a temporary arrangement–at least until after he graduated from high school–but after he explained he wanted to stay in Bel Air, she reluctantly let him stay.

Later in the original series when Will returns to Philadelphia to visit his old neighborhood, he finds out rumors spread after the fight the got him sent to Bel Air he’d been labeled a “coward” and accused of running away (of course, it wasn’t his decision to move to the West Coast). In the Bel Air trailer we find out the fight and his getting arrested with a gun were why he was sent to Bel Air. I could see this getting expanded on early in the new show. Most likely Will–with some urging from Uncle Phill–doesn’t tell his cousins and the new friends he makes everything behind why he left Philadephia. At least not at first. As far as they know, he was living in a rough neighborhood and he was sent to Bel Air so he could focus on Education. We know from the trailer Uncle Phil personally stepped in to get Will out of the legal system. I would not be surprised at all if it’s revealed Will moving to Bel Air was a condition for his help.

The original series covered a lot of social issues during its run and though they were meant for the time period, all of them are still relevant today:

  • Drug Addiction: Will gets some drugs from someone at his school. Later in the episode, Carlton takes them not realizing what they were and ends up in the hospital. Today, America (still) has a drug problem that has only become worse. I can see this still being done but the story told will be framed differently.
  • Biracial Relationship: One of Will’s aunts introduces her White boyfriend and future husband to the family. We see a conversation around this on the show and how it was done was both respectful and real. I can see this being done again for the new show though most likely it will involve a Same Sex couple time time.
  • Gun Violence: The problem has only grown in America to say the least with mass shootings among other things. This looks like it will be an underlying topic for the new show so we’ll see.
  • Social Justice: No question this will be touched on and probably frequently. It was touched on in the original series in basically every season. Most of the ones they cover will relevant for today’s audience.
  • “Blackness”: This was a topic that came up a few times in the original series. Early on, Aunt Viv challenged Will on the aspects of Black History he thought he knew. In a later season, Carlton challenges a sorrority that rejects him because he doesn’t seem “Black Enough”. Uncle Phil responds to Carlton’s rejection by posing this question to America: “When are we going to stop doing this to ourselves?”, the “we” being Black America.
  • Privilaged vs. Hood: This was the main theme of the show. You have a kid who grew up in the ghetto being transplanted into a posh Los Angeles neighborhood. It’s a culture for not just Will but most notably Carlton. As is revealed in Season 5, the Banks family actually did live in a run down part of town at first. Uncle Phil worked hard to move his family into a more privileged lifestyle but he never forgot where and what his family came from. This is also likely why I agreed to take in Will, who lived in a rough Philadelphia neighborhood. His hope was to show Will what the fruits of hard work and persistence looks like but as we know in the 2-part series finale, some people take longer than others to find themselves.
  • Celebrity Appearances: The original show had quite a few celebrity cameos during the course of its run, most known by people today and some only known if you were around 30 years ago. Aside from members of the original cast possibly making cameo appearances, we could certainly see some of today’s celebrities make cameo appearances.

 

…Those are just a few of the many things I am expecting to see covered in Bel Air. It’s sure to be interesting to say the least. We’re getting two seasons and though comparisons to the original show can’t be avoided, I urge folks to watch a few episodes before they judge at least.

 

 

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Remember those Community Farming and Urban Agriculture Ideas from about 10 years back?   Leave a comment

A Small Mattapan Farm Blooms, Despite The Pandemic | WBUR News

 

…It’s time we seriously start doing it locally, statewide and nationally.

In most modern countries in Europe and Asia as well as Canada and Australia, many households or families grow almost half of what they eat on average themselves. In contrast, most Americans buy almost all of what they eat and have since the 1950s when Urbanization exploded across the country. At some point after that, America decided it was more cost-effetive to import food grown in other parts of the world instead of growing it here.

We’ve been paying the price for giving up our food security as a nation for convenience ever since. Since the early 2000s, there have been efforts from nonprofits and the private sector to help change that. Some Farmers are going into cities to teach some of what they know to encourage people to grow their own food. Two of the biggest things driving that are the rising costs of buying food and people seeing the need to source their own food supply in light of current events. If you go to places like Japan, Norway, Holland, China, New Zealand and Mexico it’s not unusual to at least see vegetable gardens at most homes and apartments. Even renters have access to raised soil beds, greenhouses or similar setups with which to grow some produce.

…We need to be doing that nationwide in the U.S. and Canada.

Even better is it costs next to nothing to simply teach people just basic farming skills. I’m not talking about working a large wheat or corn field. I’m not talking about raising and taking care of livestock. Just growing vegetables which most already know doesn’t require a whole lot of space or effort. People just need to be taught how to do it.

At the very least you need all of the following, most of which can be bought–and very cheaply:

 

  • Soil (can be bought)
  • Shovel or Hoe
  • Hand Spade
  • Work Gloves (optional)
  • Water Source or Watering Can
  • Mulch and/or Fertilizer
  • Compost Bin (reccommended)
  • Garden Fence or Cinderblocks (to partition the vegetable garden)
  • Vegetable Seeds (obviously)
  • Plenty of Sunlight (or a Sun Lamp for Indoor Gardening)

 

If you have the land to build even a Small Greenhouse or small wooden planter, go with one. You will at least have a bit of protection from animals and birds.

If you have an apartment without access to natural soil but do have for example a porch or balcony that gets plenty of sunlight, get a small planter and fill it with soil. As long as it’s at least 3 to 6 inches deep, that’s enough to grow things in it. Oh and yes, you can grow vegetables in a 3+ Gallon bucket or bin.

Now let’s get into how long it generally takes to grow certain vegetables:

 

  • Potatoes: 18 to 20 Weeks or 60 to 90 days. The best time to plant Potato seeds is in March, April or May. They’re ready to harvest roughly 4 months later. They should be watered every 2 or 3 days until the soil is moist but not saturated.
  • Carrots: 8 weeks or 70 to 80 days. The best times to plant Carrot Seeds are Early Spring (Late March to early April) and Late Fall (Early November). They should get at least one inch of water per week or their growth will be stunted.
  • Cucumbers: 6 to 8 weeks or 50 to 70 days. The best time to plant Cucumber seeds is Late March to Early April.  They should be thoroughly soaked at least once a week.
  • Tomatoes: 2 months or 40 to 50 days.  The best times to plant Tomato seeds are late Spring (Late May) or Early Summer (Early June). Tomato seeds and plants should be watered daily in the morning.
  • Lettuce: 30 days but you can leave it longer if you want bigger plants. The best times to plant Lettuce Seeds are in the Spring or Fall. Lettuce seeds and plants should be thoroughly watered daily.
  • Onions: 3 to 4 months but can be harvested early for Green Onions or Scallions (also known as Leeks). Can be planted anytime during the year but most people will plant Onion seeds in Early Spring, Early Summer or Early Fall. Onion Seeds and plants should be thoroughly watered once or twice a week.
  • Green Peppers: 2 or 3 months for Sweet Peppers and at least 5 months for hot peppers. The best time to plant pepper seeds in general is in the Spring but they can be planted in any season. Pepper Seeds and Plants should be thoroughly watered at least once or twice a week.
  • Green Beans: Two months and they yield crop continuously once matured. The best time to plant Green Bean Seeds is in the Spring. Green Bean Seeds and Plants should be thoroughly watered at least once a week.
  • Squash: Two months or 60 days. The best time to plant Squash is in the Spring though you can plant in late Summer or Early Fall for Winter Squash. Squash Seeds and Plants should be thoroughly watered at least once a week.
  • Cabbage: 6 months or 80 to 100 days though it will continue to yield crop after the first harvest. The best times to plant Cabbage are in the Spring or Mid-Summer as it is a cool weather crop. Cabbage Seeds and Plants should be thoroughly watered at least once a week.

 

…I think that’s enough for plenty of variety.

You will need to water more or less frequently depending on how much or little rain there is and how hot the temperature gets. As a general rule of thumb, you do not need to water plants every single day unless outside temperatures are very hot. It’s always better to do one thorough soak a week than several deep soaks a week. On that note, the best time of day to water plants is in the morning as well. You don’t want to be watering plants at night because mold or fungus is much more likely to develop overnight with the cooler temperatures.

The harvest estimates above all assume you don’t use known argiculture techniques to speed up the process. There’s stuff you can do to speed up the process from fertilizer to compost to pre-soaking the seeds before planting. Growing your own produce really, really is not all that difficult. Time consuming yes but not difficult and certainly worth the effort. More so since you get to eat the end result of all the work.

If you live in an area prone to natural disasters like flooding, hurricanes or tornadoes you should try to prepare as much as you can. If possible, try to transfer some of the crops into a planter and bring them inside. That way, if your crops outside are ruined you still have some that are viable and can be replanted. Any crops ready for harvest should be picked and brought inside as soon as possible because there is no guarantee they won’t be destroyed by wind and water.

 

 

A Beginner's Guide to Using a Hobby Greenhouse ~ Homestead and Chill

Pure Garden 27.5 in. x 19 in. x 50 in. 3 Tier Greenhouse-M150076 - The Home Depot

 

Don’t want to be bound by the seasons for growing food? Buy a Greenhouse. You can buy both indoor and outdoor greenhouses without spending a lot of money. Having them in natural sunlight is best but for growing either out of season, during winter or in a room without adequate sunlight, getting sun lamps would be the next best thing. Of course, you would also have to be ok with the fact keeping sun lamps on almost 24/7 adds to your electic bill. This is also why I said if you can set up your green house either outside or at least where it would get a lot of natural sunlight, that would be best.

Oh and yes, all of the plants featured above can also be grown indoors in an Indoor Greenhouse. With Outdoor Greenhouses, you don’t really have to worry about bugs or animals. You can either make the outdoor ones walk-in with shelves–this is the most common type for homeowners–or have it cover soil beds as seen on most farms. You could even do a combination of both if you want and have the space for it, usually one side with soil beds and the other side with shelves to ensure proper water and light distribution for the crops.

Washing A Compost Bin – Ways Of Cleaning Out Compost Bins

 

Weather you grow food outdoors or indoors, it IS renewable and more so if you Compost. Composting is how you revitalize the soil between harvests…by making new soil. How? You get a bin like this one–design, size and material don’t matter–and fill it with biodegradeable matter. Mainly leaves, grass clippings and organic food waste like banana peels and apple cores. Then, you let earthworms get in and break all of it down for you. The results will speak for themselves.

On that note.

I left out fruit trees mostly on purpose. That’s because they take YEARS from when the seed’s planted to produce fruit. For example, it takes Apple Trees 6 to 10 years from when they’re planted as seeds to mature and produce fruit. You can save some time by either buying a sapling–they’ll produce fruit 2 to 3 years after planting on average–or if you’re willing to pay the money–and it will not be cheap–buying a fully matured fruit tree.

For reference, Apple Trees last for 35 to 45 years once fully matured so it’s probably not ideal to get a fruit tree if you rent and may move at some point. This is to say nothing of fruit trees often only bearing fruit every other year once matured.  It’s a lot of keep track of and know to say the least. This is why growing fruit trees is only reccommended for homeowners with the land for it.

Release your Inner Frankenstein - Graft a Fruit Tree | Wallyhood

 

I haven’t even gotten into explaining fruit tree grafting. That’s when you take branches from one tree and graft it onto another to have a tree capable of producing either multiple types of the same fruit (above picture) or multiple different kinds of fruit. This is really something you should have someone who knows what they’re doing do for you the first time at least though it’s not hard to find out how to do it online. In short, you take a branch from one tree and tie it to another. Over time, the branch will bond with the recepient tree but still produce the fruit of the tree it came from.

You’ll know it worked when the transplanted branch blossoms. If the branch dies, you’ll know it failed to properly bond. It does take time and this is why I said it’s best to leave it to someone who knows what they’re doing to do the first grafting at least. Once the branch bonds with the recepient tree, you won’t need to do anything special afterward. It will simply grow with the rest of the recepient tree normally. Only difference is the transplanted branch produces fruit from the fruit tree it came from.  The rest of the tree still produces its original fruit on that note.

…Whew.

I ended up giving a crash course on Agriculture and growing crops in general there, didn’t I? Hopefully someone finds much of all this helpfu at least. For more more specific Gardening tips or info, you have a few options. You can either search online, go to a library or ask someone who knows their way around soil. Pick one =)

That aside, I am pretty sure there will soon be a surge in people in the U.S.–especially in Urban and Suburban areas–suddenly taking an interest in growing their own food. Not just because of the rising costs of organic food prices in particular or the ongoing pandemic in progress but because people will want a stable food source due to the political discourse in most of the country, the South and Midwest in particular.

For those who may be wondering. During my first year in the City Year program, I received about 2 years worth of training on Environmental Science and Agriculture in 4 months. You don’t forget what you learned and put into practice even 20 years later. I checked online for some of the more detailed info but the way I explained everything is based on what I learned and put in practice back in the day.

I would definitely urge folks in the U.S. to take up growing food weather you rent, own or otherwise. Especially people of color. Not just to source your own food but for Wellness-related reasons too. It’s quite the workout and you’re also fortifying your mind at the same time. This is an effective way our society can fill idle time modern conveniences have created for us. Automation and Robotics are sure to replace more and more jobs traditionally staffed by people in the coming years. It would be to our benefit to at the very least retain the knowledge and

It’s also sure to come in handy when our society falls apart. Don’t take my word for it. Just watch the evening news. The widespread destruction caused by Hurricane Ida is yet another reminder to people on the ground at the end of the day, too many politicians will say all the right things for an election season but at the end the day, they don’t give a damn about people.

All that said–and I had to add this back in after publishing the article–there are commercial benefits to growing your own food that gives added incentive to the time investment. You could sell your excess crops either at a farmer’s market, to a local store or even just out of your car. You could make back some, most or all of what you spent to plant the crops. More often than not, you could make a decent profit depending on how you do things.

I do think there is a lot of untapped potential in local, privately done agriculture. More so if whole communities start doing it across the U.S. For one, it would deeply cut into the mostly silent Hunger epidemic that’s ravaged the U.S. in recent decades. Not just help address the physical food need but we’re also talking new job opportunities and so on. In short, being able to grow food means you will always be able to eat AND make money. Even better is it’s sustainable longterm. I know of too many empty lots across just Boston that could be converted for growing crops. It’s just about investing the time and resources to get things going.

 

 

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I finally watched the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” Reunion Special on HBO Max!   Leave a comment

Will Smith Ends Feud with Janet Hubert on "Fresh Prince" Reunion – B98.5

…That’s the full song, which plays with the Pilot episode.

 

To celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the show’s launch, Will Smith assembled the show’s cast for an almost 2-hour trip down memory lane. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air is one of the few 90s sitcoms that is still around today because of how massively popular it is. It is such an iconic show, good luck finding kids who haven’t at least heard of it.

Despite the fact the show ran from1990 to 1995 spanning 150 episodes, it has lived on in reruns in the 25 years since the final episode aired in 1995. A few cable networks carry the show and you can find all 6 seasons in their entirety on HBO Max (without Ads!).

Speaking of. I plan to binge all six seasons while my HBO Max subscription is still active. I finished Season 1 and I now know for sure the set changed after the first season. I was never sure but now I have it confirmed. The interior of the Banks home changes to the iconic look we all know and love after the first season:

 

Pin by Sidney Gray on living room | Living room 90s, Living room background, Living room

Fresh Prince of Bel Air 30th Anniversary Reunion /...

 

…The second picture is from the Reunion Special and is a faithful recreation of the original set. It is also fueling speculation Will Smith plan to make a new show idea a reality. While he was promoting the Reunion Special last year, Smith said he was very open to creating a new series with himself as the dad. The idea would be for it to be a tribute to the late James Avery (1945-2013), who played Uncle Phil on the show. We will have to wait and see if it happens.

The Reunion special was done in 2020 during the pandemic if that wasn’t already obvious. Since that was before Vaccines became available, great care was taken to ensure the cast–almost all of whom are now over 50–could safely interact and be physically close to each other. I am hopeful they will do another reunion special, this time in front of a audience.

The show’s had quite a number of not just celebrity appearances but guest appearances by actors who would go on to star in their own sitcoms, dramas or movies. Queen Latifah made several appearances early in the show’s run as several characters. Like Will Smith, she was looking to transition into acting after making a name for herself as an artist. She would go on to co-star on Livin’ SIngle and the movie Set It Off, which established her acting career. Malcom Jamal Warner plugged the Cosby Show during his guest appearance, having made a prior cameo in a daydream sequence on the show as himself. Nia Long famously played Smith’s girlfriend on the show as several characters during its run.

The show is more known and beloved for tackling issues and and topics common from within Black America, all of which are still relevant today. In fact, you can have a group discussion after almost every episode. The cast revealed during the Reunion Special they didn’t just want entertain people but also wanted to enlighten, inform and uplift.

 

Here’s one now iconic moment from Season 2 that got renewed attention in recent years:

 

“No way! Dude’s got a gun. Next thing I know, I got six warning shots in my back.” This clip has been immortalized on YouTube. It was clearly done as dark humor but 30 years later, this line has taken renewed interest due to recent events that have made the news involving unarmed black men being shot by police. It’s not that it wasn’t happening back then. The difference its in recent years, it’s been getting recorded a lot more.

 

 

Uncle Phil’s question at the end “When are we gonna stop doing this to each other?” at the end was clearly directed at Black America. It was a shot at what had to that point become toxic stereotypes about what “being Black” is or is supposed to be perpetuated by Blacks. Not just the vernaculars but the “Street Smarts Culture” Black Americans perpetuated throughought the 70s, 80s, most of the 90s and most of the 2000s.

All that said, this moment and others from the show are clearly was a clear shot at “Black Hood Culture”. As much as many folks in my generation like to tout the 90s as “The last good decade”, it wasn’t all Nintendo and Michael Jordan. Especially for Black America. Let’s just be real: rap music, certain talk shows, certain comedians and gangsta movies all went a long way in distorting and devaluing Black Americans for a whole generation by glamorizing self-destructive habits, ideas and behaviors.

That’s a whole other topic that would need a series of posts to cover though. Before I move on, I will say the way this show tackled real life issues didn’t feel feel forced. Sitcoms–short for “Situation Comedy” or those who never knew–of the 90s, 80s and 70s are often criticized these days for having projected the false narrative any problem can be resolved within 30 minutes (or two episodes) during their eras. That IS true but the Fresh Prince of Bel Air was one of the few shows that covered real issues purposely and with great attention to detail.

 

 

Now here’s a scene many in America regardless of race or ethnicity felt the first time they saw it:

 

WIll Smith commented on the story behind this scene both in the Reunion Special and in past interviews after James Avery died. First off, this was 100% scripted. The backdrop to what is easily the most iconic scene in the entire series is James Avery pushed Will Smith to bring it as an actor and refused to allow filming to end until we got the finished product. Smith revealed during the embrace, Avery whispers to him ‘Now THAT’S acting!”

Earlier in the episode, Will and Uncle Phil have a huge fight and at the end of it, Will smell exclaims to him “You are NOT my father!” It’s not hard to understand how much it hurt Uncle Phil to have him say that to him and more so since he moved to Bel Air. For all intents and purposes, Uncle Phil was the father Will never had and needed.

 

That aside, the line “How come he don’t want me?” cut deep and hard for millions of Americans regardless of age who either grew up without a father or were the mothers of kids who grew up without one. No more needs to be said.

Oh and Will Smith–the person, not the character–did grow up with his father in his life. Some folks might also remember the song he did a few years after the song he did called “Just The Two Of Us”, which is actually a rehash of an old song with the same name. He did the song as a tribute to his firstborn son after he broke up with the mother of his son and got full custody. This was before he married Jada Pinkett (they have two kids together). No, not his other son Jaden. That’s his son with his wife.

 

 

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air': How Daphne Maxwell Reid Really Feels About The Aunt Viv Comparisons - SHADOW & ACT

When Season 4 began, there was a new actress playing the role of Vivian Banks. While Aunt Viv was spared the same fate as Family Matters’ Judy Winslow–who went upstairs one day and never came back down–there was no ignoring the fact she was played by a different actress for the second half of the show’s run. As Jazz put it, Aunt Viv “drastically changed” five months after giving birth.

Mind you, Nicky Banks (played by Ross Bagley) was “aged up” a few years between Seasons 4 and 5 (which again, Jazz points out) but given there is an implied time skip while Will is in Philadelphia (complete with 4th Wall breaking of course), you can kinda hand-wave this. More so since by then, viewers clearly noticed the new Aunt Viv and the one they’d grown to love had their own approaches to their protrayals of the character.

 

The interesting thing Daphne Reid, who played Aunt Viv in Seasons 4 through 6 revealed during the Reunion Special is she was initially considered to play Aunt Viv. She passed on the role and it wasn’t until the show began she realized she missed out on being a part of something special. Then, the role of Aunt Viv suddenly opened at the end of season 3.

 

Speaking of:

 

Five highlights from The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air reunion - NOW Magazine

Will Smith and Janet Hubert-Whitten had their first face to face sit-down meeting in 27 years during the Reunion Special. After playing footage of that sit-down meeting between them, Smith told the rest of the cast it wouldn’t have felt right to do the Reunion Special without her and more so since she had been a big part of the show’s popularity both during her time on it and in the 30 years after the show ended.

Make no mistake the two said a lot more to each other than what we saw but the point is after 27 years, Will and Janet reconciled. Their feud was one of the longest in Hollywood history. Before I continue, Janet clarified the narrative everyone including Smith himelf assumed that she had been fired. In reality, her contract had expired. Janet actually was pregnant during the taping of Season 3 and her pregnancy was written into the show.

Her contract was up for renewal when she had her falling out with WIll. Negotiations fell through and her beef with WIll Smith, who was a rising star in Hollywood prettymuch meant her acting career was over. In the context of when their beef began, Janet told Will she knew that at the time they had their falling out he was basically untouchable. While clearly more was said between them than has been publicly shared, Will admitted he knew she was stressed from the pregnancy and needlessly added to it with his badgering. Janet told him aside from the pregnancy and the contract negotiations that fell through, she was also dealing with an abusive and failed marriage.

Will knew things came to a head when NBC first got wind of the rumors about them. He and the rest of the cast likely had been simply told she had been fired and her role was recast. Daphne Reid, who was originally considered for the role was chosen to replace Janet Hubert-Whitten for the rest of the show’s run. Aunt Viv is noticably absent from three of the final four episodes of Season 3 (she gives birth in Episode 20). She was paid for her final appearance in the Wedding Anniversary episode, which is a flashback episode.

 

Alphonso Ribiero already showed he has some SERIOUS dancing skills prior to the introuction of what is The Carlton Dance. For those who didn’t pick up on the obvious references, Ribiero took dancing lessons to be a backup dancer for Michael Jackson. Those plans were put on the shelf when he was cast as Carlton…or so he likely thought.

The song “It’s Not Unusual” by Tom Jones saw a surge in record, cassette and CD sales after its first appearance on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. When he learned why his old song was suddenly so popular, Tom Jones begged to make his one cameo appearance on an episode of the show during a dream sequence with Carlton.

Will Smith recognized Alphonso’s talent outside acting and pushed for him to have opportunities to show off his range. This would continue 20 years after the show ended as well.

Alfonso won Dancing with the Stars in 2014 thanks to the Carlton Dance. He knew he would only be allowed to use it once and he knew people wanted to see him do it so he saved it for last, winning the competition with it.

 

A Look Back at the House from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" - Hooked on  Houses

Here's What The FRESH PRINCE BEL AIR Mansion . . . Looks Like NOW!!! - MTO  News

 

I almost forgot to mention this but the iconic Fresh Prince of Bel Air mansion is actually located in Brentwood, which is next to Bel Air. The show is loosely inspired by the life of Benny Medina–known as the REAL Fresh Prince of Bel Air–who was the show’s Executive Producer. That’s not his actual mansion but Medina did own a mansion in Bel Air. He sold his mansion in 2015 for about $13 Million when he moved to New York.

As for the Fresh Prince of Bel Air Mansion, it’s still there. I think it’s owned by Will Smith but I can’t remember. Last October, Smith partnered with Air BnB to host five sleepovers. One night for $35 but in exchange, you could basically do whatever you wanted while there. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they could only source people from the LA County area who lived together. There will probably be another promotion once the Pandemic is under control though.

 

 

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Ok so Facebook has disabled my account, likely permanent   Leave a comment

Oh and no it wasn’t from violating any of that platform’s rules or community standards. I did not post something that triggered someone on Facebook. Nothing I posted was flagged. I would have been notified if that was the case. Based on what I’ve been reading on Twitter for the last few hours, this is actually  widespread problem and has been for over a year now. The problems coincidentally began with the rollout of the new desktop interface last year.

The thing about the Facebook platform that annoys all users who have ever experienced a problem is the fact that it is impossible to speak to a live person. Their Help & Support section is useless as there is no way for users to actually resolve a problem like this that a human tech person should be handling.

I am not expecting my Facebook account to be unlocked just like the other two that were disabled for no explained reason in January. As for what I was doing, I was simply managing the Facebook Groups I made myself. On that note. My account was restricted every week since late January just while doing that. No, really. I spoke to one person who lost an account just for uploading pictures in bulk to their personal account. I believed him because that’s exactly what caused one of my other accounts to be disabled in January.

As a platform, Facebook is even more broken than it was in recent years. More so given user data is compromised from major hacks every few years. The platform has already been dealing with bad publicity from its invasive info-gathering practices for almost 10 years that have only been stepped up in recent years.

 

A few examples:

  • Authentic Name Policy: This was what led to one of my accounts that I had for 5 years to that point being disabled in January. Apparently, Facebook only wants people to use their real, legal names on Facebook from now on. This seems to be a new policy that is only selectively enforced since I know a lot of people who do not use their real name on Facebook. This is also a problem for those who do not want to use their real name on Facebook for legitimate privacy reasons. This was why I made an account with a made up name 5 years ago. Not everyone who wants to be anonymous on Social Media has malicious intentions.
  • Wanting an active phone number: This has been their policy for about 10 years WhatsApp, which they bought a few years ago is one thing. On the one hand, it’s much harder to change a phone number than an email address (espcially if said email is Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo). On the other hand, anyone who knows your phone number knows half of what they need to access your account.
  • Wanting to see a Government-issue ID or document to verify your identity: This is easily the one that is a giant red flag for a lot of people. Facebook insists they destroy the photocopy of the provided document after receiving it but that’s still a blatant invasion of privacy. More so for those who do not have an ID. I know a lot of people in The Philippines as well as on the African continent who do not have a Government ID simply because they don’t have the money for example.
  • Personalized Ads: Facebook knows more about you, how you think as well as your likes and dislikes than you think. In fact, the European Union and a few other places passed strict measures several years back to block Facebook (and other Social Media platforms) from gathering certain personal data and protect the public’s right to a reasonable level of anonminity online. The U.S., which is where Facebook (and Twitter) is headquartered never did because Facebook the lobbied to keep it from happening.
  • Inconsistent Policy Enforcement: A few Facebook groups I know of come to mind. In all of them, people basically post whatever they want with no fear of backlash from Facebook. I mean links to porn, graphic images (gore, body fluid, dead bodies, etc.) and spam. The group Admins looking the other way aside, there isn’t even a guarantee Facebook will remove the offending item when reported.

 

Facebook has been making it as easy as possible for people to find you online. You also need to keep in mind as far as Facebook is concerned, you are money for advertisers who want to be able to do targeted adverisements. As of this year, Facebook is believed to have 2.7 Billion unique registered users. That’s almost a third of the world population.

Facebook’s data collection practices are basically the envy of every world government that wishes they could do what Facebook does. It’s also why all governments are and should be VERY concerned with the fact Facebook has comprehensive information about every single accoun holder. They sell some of that information to the highest bidder for the purposes of targeted advertising. It’s why hackers keep targeting them so…yeah.

There has been chatter for the last 6 to 8 months now that Congress may order Facebook to break up as well as make WhatsApp and Beehive, which Facebook recently purchased back into independent companies. There is already a lot of public support and bipartisan support for this from those who have rightfully become very concerned by how much power Facebook has internationally and well as domestically over its users.

 

For those who don’t know, WhatsApp is an instant messaging platform used globally that features End to End Encrpytion. It does require a mobile phone to work–my biggest issue with it and more so with my cellphone problems in recent years–but does allow people who live in different countries to freely talk without a third party being able to monitor the conversation. As long as you know the other person’s phone number–and assuming both of you have data or Wi-Fi–you can text, voice call or video call with them for free. Facebook had been hoping to begin integrating WhatsApp like they’ve already done with Instagram (which they also own) but the latest WhatsApp update confirmed it will not be integrated, likely ahead of plans to sell the platform before they’re forced to.

Mark Zuckerberg is no longer trying to hide the fact he wants to sell Facebook. The problem may be finding a willing buyer. Why? Because the platform is regularly targeted by hackers who want to steal and then sell user information to the highest bidder on the Dark Web. Whoever is willing to buy the platform would need to make protecting user information their #1 priority because clearly it isn’t Mark Zuckerberg’s.

On a related note, he has candidly admitted publicly many times he does not use Facebook himself “because there are better ways to spend your time”. He has also said he will never let his daughter basically know it exists. The other co-Founders of Facebook have all said they have never used the platform and never will because of how “psychologically damaging” it is. More food for thought.

 

Anywho, WordPress is and has been my primary online platform since 2012. I only wish I found it a few years sooner. I could have saved a few hundred dollars worth of paying to keep a domain name active at least. If Facebook does reinstate my disabled account, I will make a push for folks to keep in touch with me via other means. I’m so done with Facebook playing games with me.

 

 

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Godzilla vs. Kong blows open the potential for more stories to tell   Leave a comment

Clash of the Titans: A 'Godzilla vs. Kong' MonsterVerse Primer - Bloody  Disgusting

 

Before I begin, let’s get the obvious bit of info you want to know first out of the way: Neither Kong or Godzilla die though both come close. I got HBO Max specifically for THIS movie as well as the two previous movies Kong: Skull Island (2016) and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2018) which I hadn’t seen yet. I saw the first movie Godzilla (2014) in theaters twice and then bought it on Blu Ray. It goes without saying I liked it enough to see the movies that followed that one.

Now let’s backtrack a bit and provide some background info for those who may not be familiar with what fans call the “Monsterverse”. Fair warning, there be some spoilers for these last three movies (including Godzilla vs. Kong) so if you do not want to be spoiled, scroll down to the next picture.

The second movie. Kong: Skull Island actually lays the foundation for what we see in the other three movies: The Hollow Earth Theory. Before I continue, this is an actual theory that is now widely dismissed due to how much we now know about the planet. In the Monsterverse, the Hollow Earth Theory is the belief that there are tunnels within the planet that the Titans used in the past to quickly travel from one part of the world to another.

As is revealed in Godzilla vs. Kong, there is another world deep within the world–referred to at the end of the movie as Hollow Earth–that is the homeland of all the Titans. In Godzilla: King of the Monsters we find out that there are Titans on other worlds: Gidorah, who was trapped in ice in Antarctica was one of them. He was referred to as a False King because although Gidorah is an Alpha, he is not originally from Earth. When that movie ended, Godzilla killed Gidorah and was then acknowledged by the other Titans as Earth’s Alpha Titan. Gidorah was another Alpha who wanted to claim dominance as the Alpha Titan. Godzilla challenged him, won and was acknowledged by the other Titans.

…All but one: Kong.

The events of Kong: Skull Island takes place in the early 1970s. A then “teenage” Kong is introduced as the last of his kind. We find out near the end of that movie that Kong’s parents were likely killed by Skull Crawlers, which are menacing pseudo-Titans that attack Kong and other creatures on the island on a daily basis. The movie ends with Kong killing the largest one that likely killed his parents in the past. One of the human characters in the movie notes near the end that Kong is still growing so…yeah.

Skull Island is referenced throughout Godzilla: King of the Monsters and the final scene before the credits confirmed the next movie will feature both of them. At the beginning of Godzilla vs. Kong we find out Kong was moved into a special environment on Skull Island was for two reasons. The first was obviously to keep Godzilla from finding him. The second reason was the storm that has enveloped the island by that point in time.

It’s revealed the native population that we see in Kong: Skull Island is wiped out by the storm that enveloped the island. At the beginning of the movie, the survey team that travels to the island actually flies through a hurricane that surrounds the island. Skull Island was in the eye of the storm at that time but no longer by the time Godzilla vs. Kong takes place 50 years later. Jia, a deaf girl who can communicate with Kong using sign language is the only human he will listen to (by the way yes, they used an actual deaf actress) so she’s along for the ride.

By the time of the beginning of Godzilla vs. Kong, Kong has grown and is not only much bigger than he was 50 years earlier but older. You can clearly see the beard on his face with some signs of greying in it. Apex Cybernetics is the true big bad in this movie. They’ve created Mecha Godzilla but it has a major problem: It needs a new power source capable of letting it operate at full power. We first see it being tested at 40% power but it shuts down barely after rending a captive Skull Crawler in two.

Apex Cybernetics needs a new power source and they decide Kong, whose presence has been hidden from the world for 50 years may be the key. They propose the answer to their problem lies in Hollow Earth, the Titan’s homeworld. As a Titan himself, they believe Kong would be able to lead them to the Titans’ homeworld.

At the beginning of the movie Godzilla attacked their facility in Palmacosta, Florida. The company and the media framed it as Godzilla turning on humans though admittedly, Godzilla only attacked Apex Cybernetics and no other place. Later when Kong is being moved across the ocean, Godzilla intercepts the fleet and attacks Kong. Prior to Godzilla’s arrival, Kong was restrained with massive chains on the lead barge. This is when the survey team learns Kong can communicate with Jia using sign language.

When Godzilla attacks and Kong’s restraints are eventually released, their first fight is on. Godzilla has the clear advantage since they’re in the middle of the ocean. The fight ends after Godzilla drags Kong deep underwater. The fleet fires depth charges that force Godzilla to release Kong, who resurfaces alone and collapses in a heap on the barge after coughing up water. Godzilla resurfaces shortly afterward and after watching Kong for a few moments, leaves the area.

 

The survey team airlifts Kong the rest of the way to Antarctica. Jia convinces Kong to enter the entrance to Hollow Earth discovered there. and then we see the Titans’ homeworld. To Kong, his new home is an upgrade to Skull Island. He finds a chamber that is a bit of a throwback to the lore involving Kong and Godzilla’s species. Apparently, his ancestors were very good at killing Godzilla’s kind as he finds an axe made with a bone and the dorsal fin of Godzilla’s kind in the skull of the same species.

Kong takes the axe in his hands and holds it triumphantly as a powerful weapon to use the next time he and his genetic rival fight each other. That time comes much sooner than expected. By that point in the movie, Godzilla has just arrived in Hong Kong with his sights set on the Apex Cybernetics facility there. He notices Kong’s presence and uses his atomic breath to bore a massive hole all the way to the chamber where Kong is, challenging him to come up and fight. It goes without saying he doesn’t need to ask twice.

Now with his axe, Kong and Godzilla fight until morning. After a brutal battle that devastates the city, Kong outlasts Godzilla to win their second battle. Godzilla rises to challenge Kong for a third, decisive battle as morning breaks. This time, Godzilla overpowers Kong and dislocates Kong’s left shoulder before pinning hm to the ground. Having literally beaten Kong within an inch of his life, Godzilla stands triumphantly over Kong. He then turns his attention to Mecha Godzilla, which has just emerged and is razing the city. The artificial Titan has gone rogue and its first target is the Apex Predator it was created to replace.

Having just fought Kong in two brutal battles back to back, Godzilla is obviously not 100% and is quickly overpowered by Mecha Godzilla. Kong is revived and then directed by Jia to help Godzilla fight theartificial Titan. After popping his shoulder back into place, Kong joins the battle just as Godzilla is about to be finished off. Despite the numbers disadvantage, Mecha Gozilla is having little trouble keeping both Kong and Godzilla in check. When the mainframe computer controlling it is sabotaged, the artificial Titan is weakened enough for Kong to hack it to pieces with his axe with a nice assist from Godzilla.

With the mutual threat destroyed, Godzilla and Kong stand off in the above scene for a few moments before Kong drops his axe to show he doesn’t want to fight again. Godzilla appears to grin, accepting the gesture and then leaves. Even though Kong was the one who beat the foe he wasn’t able to beat himself, Godzilla already beat Kong twice by that point and probably saw no reason for a fourth fight. He already proved he could beat Kong twice and left out of respect. That’s probably also why he didn’t kill Kong when he clearly could have both times he won their fights. He just fought until Kong until he couldn’t fight back both times he won, assuming he was fatally wounded after the second victory.

In the final scene, Kong has returned to Hollow Earth where Monarch is sure to be spending quite a bit of time in the near future.

 

New to Streaming This Week (3/29/21), Including 'Godzilla vs. Kong' and  'The Serpent' – The Streamable

 

The fact that both Kong and Godzilla lived through the movie should be enough for you to know they will be back in subsequent movies and/or TV shows. Some people believe the next Godzilla movie might feature Destroyah, who is another Alien Titan from the Monsterverse.

We may also see the return of Mothra, Queen of the Monsters. Though she was killed in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, she did lay an egg before she died. That is something that will need to be revisited for sure.

Overall, I give Godzilla vs. Kong an 8/10. Like the first Godzilla movie (2014), the human characters were just there but Team Godzilla–Maddie, Josh and Conspiracy Guy–didn’t feel necessary. They were literally just there for gags and comedy relief. I was turned off by Conspiracy Guy off the bat and had to fast forward past his scenes during my second watch of the movie. He bothered me that much personally.

Monarch was prettymuch absent from this movie which makes no sense after the first three Monsterverse movies. No doubt they’ll have their focus split between the surface and Hollow Earth moving forward.

 

 

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There is an untapped potential for low-cost Portable MP3 Players globally   Leave a comment

Flashback 1998: Birth of the MP3 Player | Sound & Vision

We’ve come quite a long way since the first MP3 Players hit the market in the late 1990s. Most people stream their music online these days, usually through their smartphone or computer. You’re hard pressed finding people under 50 who still have or use CDs and Cassette tapes though Vinyl Records have been making a bit of a comeback in recent years.

The turn of the century saw people beginning to digitize their CD collections and put their music on their computers so that they can play them while doing something else. In the aftermath of Napster being flipped from the most imfamous Piracy Software ever to a legit digital music store, Online Streaming like YouTube and Spotify and Online Stores like iTunes and Amazon Music arose. No longer did consumers have to leave home to but music if they didn’t want to.

 

…The problem only partially solved with the advent of bigger hard drive storage was having enough space to fit your digital music collection on the go AND keep it organized. This week marks one year since my desktop computer broke. It had a 750GB Hard drive of which almost 300GB was just Music, Movies, TV Episodes and Podcasts. Mind you, this was amassed over the last 20 years. Fortunately for me, I didn’t suffer any data loss for various reasons.

 

The two biggest reasons I didn’t suffer data loss was because the hard drives didn’t fail and most of the media I bought from iTunes. When you buy from iTunes, you permanently own it and can redownload anything you bought even if they no longer have it listed. Today, Apple is the only electronics company that still makes MP3 Players (iPod Touch, iPod Mini and iPod Classic) though the iPhone and iPad are their biggest sellers followed by their computers and watches.

All that said, iPods are expensive. Despite most people having migrated to iPhones, iPads or a combination of both, the overall price range for the latest model iPod Touch (6th Generation) is still $200 to $400. Even worse is they no longer sell or carry the older iPod Touch models and neither do stores. There are online stores that sell preowned or refurbished models but too many sellers want you to pay more than the price of the current model so…yeah.

 

Microsoft Finally Puts the Zune Out of Its Misery | SPIN

Many people including myself who had a Zune Player were devastated when Microsoft announced they were discontinuing it 8 years ago. Microsoft basically made the same mistake Sony did with the Vita: They didn’t give it a chance. Microsoft may have felt having the Zune Brand on the market at the same time as the then new Windows Phone was too redundant and folded it into other brands. The service permanently shut down in 2015. The sad thing is Zune offered a viable alternative to Apple. I had both the original and HD models at different times so I can speak to this. Sandisk had an MP3 Player too but nothing as sophisticated as the iPod or Zune.

The fact of the matter is not everyone wants to use their smartphone, tablet or computer for music. Like I said in a post two years ago, Cloud-Based Storage requires an internet connection to be used and that makes it unreliable for that kind of use. The fact that people are reinvesting in discontinued storage media such as Vinyl Records shows people still want to own the music they listen to.

…The same concept can an should be applied to MP3 Players. We just need to make some MP3 Players with large storage capacity, long battery life and some modern conveniences such as Bluetooth and Touch Screens. All storage options most not exceed $200 either. Quite the challenge, I know.

Here’s some things I would personally like to see included with an Affordable MP3 Player:

 

  • Compatability with iTunes and Windows Media Player: Apple and Microsoft would likely need to give their permssion for this kind of thing. Basically, you can use either computer software to manage the device. Apple would likely have to make an iTunes App for the MP3 Player so people can use their Apple Library on the go.
  • App Store: This is a fair “want”. Each Device will have some stuff preloaded but the option of adding more apps would help make it a viable option.
  • Bluetooth: Not just speakers and headsets but keyboards and controllers.
  • Ion Lithium Battery: Preferably can run for 8 to 12 hours on a single charge.
  • Internal Speaker: Allows Media to be played or listened to without headphones.
  • AM/FM Radio: Hey, we still have AM/FM Clock Radios!
  • Document Reader: For viewing documents in PDF, TXT, DOC, and other formats.
  • Photo Album: For viewing pictures.
  • Offline Translator App: Would come with a library of 24 languages: American English, British English, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, German, Arabic, Portuguese, Mandarin (Chinese), Japanese, Korean, Tamil, Swahili, Zulu, Tagalog (Filipino) and Russian. More languages can be downloaded.
  • Video Player: Separate from the media player. Recorded video.
  • Voice Recorder + Microphone: Could come in handy for students or just note-taking in general.
  • Several Storage Options: 32GB ($40), 64GB ($70), 128GB ($100), 256GB ($150) and 1TB ($180). All storage sizes would also have SD Memory Card and MicroSD Memory Card comparability as well as Cloud Storage options.
  • Wi-Fi Only: This would help keep costs down though it can be paired with a Mobile Hotspot or Home Wif-Fi Network for uninterruped internet access.
  • Cameras: One camera on each side for taking photos, video recording and video chat.
  • Local Wireless Communication: If someone else with the device is within range, you can communicate with each other. No internet connection required.

 

…We already know from the Nintendo DSi and Nintendo 3DS Family consoles that it’s more than possible to sell popular low-cost handheld devices for $200 and less. The 3DS Family consoles allow local wireless communication without an internet connection. Those who ever owned one should already be familiar with the Streetpass feature so…yeah.

Even with the above wish list, I think it’s possiible to make an MP3 Player available for less than $200. In the meantime, I’ll search online for a used iPod Touch 3rd and 4th Gen selling for less than $100 each. Why am I looking to buy a few iPods, you may be wondering? Aside from some I’m obviously going to keep for myself, I am buying iPods to preload and ship to people I know in The Philippines, Tanzania and South Africa. They live in areas with no Wi-Fi access or a poor wireless signal so I would need to preload the iPods with media they can use without an internet connection. That also means they would not be able to add anything to it unless they shipped it back to me and that wouldn’t be easy because international shipping from certain countries isn’t cheap.

That aside, this is one of the biggest reasons why there is a lot of untapped potential in the development of some low-cost Portable MP3 Players. You could have someone in a developed country (U.S., China, Japan, etc.) buy some in bulk, preload them with media and then ship them overseas.

Let’s say you’re interested in missionary work. You can download seminars available on Apple Podcasts or Spotify for free directly onto the device. This way, they can be watched or listened to without an internet connection. Now let’s say you have family in another country and have home video or photos you want to share. You can put them on the device, ship it overseas and still have those memories backed up on your end.

What about people in developed countries? Not paying a lot of money for a reliable MP3 Player would be great. It also wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) have all the complex features Smartphones have either. Just keep it simple, scaled down, reliable and affordable.

 

 

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It feels like my desire to leave the U.S. need to be moved up now   Leave a comment

Divided America - The Fractured States of America

 

I can say right now, one of my short term goals is to have a passport by the 2022 Midterms.

Anyone who’s been following my blog on Politics and News since last year should already have a good idea of how I feel about the political situation in the U.S. right now. To pull a quote from the 1998 video game Metal Gear Solid, “They always put politics first”. It’s ironic. Being positive and hopeful will only work for so long in reality.

I’ve seen enough to know at this point the U.S. is going to tear itself apart sooner than later. This is much bigger than Trump or Biden and that should be obvious by now. As some of the pundits across Corporate Media put it, the political divide is so deeply entrenched, no one wants to try to listen to anyone anymore. First I’m going to get my own apartment. Then I’m going to get a passport. Then I’m going to start visiting countries on my short list of places to move to.

I’m considering taking The Philippines off my list of countries to move to because of the volcanic activity, earthquakes, floods and typhoons which are a very frequent occurance over there all year round. This is aside from the obvious fact most of the country is in extreme poverty. The quartet of natural disasters is why despite the massive number of islands that make up the country, most of them are uninhabited. I look at the Taal Volcano, which is 45 miles south of the country’s capital Manila. When it eventually erupts–and everyone knows it will–we’re potentially looking at millions of people dying. The middle part of the country has Typhoons and Flooding while Mindanao to the south has earthquakes.

 

Even if I picked an area of the country that wouldn’t be directly affected by the quartet of natural disasters directly, I would still be at risk of being cut off because of natural disaster elsewhere. The Philippines has laws that don’t allow non-citizens to own land. So, I would have to become a Filipino citizen to own land. Two common workarounds to this is having a citizen be the land owner or more commonly, marrying a Filipino. I plan to visit the country regardless just to look at a few areas of interest. The low cost of living over there is why it is still a very strong contender to move to.

 

Canada’s on my list simply because it’s close by. I’m pretty sure once COVID-19 is under control by this Summer or Fall, it will be easier to move around again. From what I’ve been hearing from friends of mine who live in Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa, the country is bracing for an influx of Americans looking to move there before the 2024 election and more so if Trump runs for President again as many believe he will. Our neighbors to the north know most of us are not crazy. I have been hearing rumors Canada is considering a provision that will allow Americans to apply for assylum and be granted entry into the country before the 2024 election. We will see.

 

Tanzania, Ghana and South Africa are three countries of interest I can disappear in without too much difficulty and I do mean in a good way. It helps I know people who live in all three countries too. My plan would be to get land on which I could grow food on. Knowledge is power in all three countries and it would also help there are many in all of them who are hungry for knowledge.

Having said all that–and I’ve said this on my blog on Politics several times last year–I do think we will see a mass migration of people looking to leave the U.S. for other countries. I won’t pretend to know where people will go but I’m feeling confident in saying most who leave the U.S. will probably head to what most Western countries consider to be developing countries. I’m talking Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America, The Philippines and Eastern Europe.

As for why, the cost of living is much lower than North America, Western Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. I believe that will be one of the driving forces anyway. Economic opportunities and fleeing persecution or discrimination of some kind round out the other big reasons for mass migration in the near future. Like I said earlier, I am looking to get a passport as soon as possible myself. I’m obviously not in a rush to leave the country but I am doing what I can to plan and research from now.

My plans are independent from my immediate and extended family. Without going into detail, I’ve never actually like I belong to or am even a part of the family I was born into if that makes sense. So, I’ll focus on doing what I feel is best for me and nevermind what other people think of my choices or decisions. There comes a time when you need to stand on your own and a time when you need to cut your ties with people who have made it clear to you over and over again they want to be in your way and undermine you at every opportunity.

These are just some of the more personal reasons I am planning to leave the U.S. Before that, my focus is getting my own apartment. I’ve had a number of setbacks last year obviously but I’m staying the course. I’m patient when I know I need to be and this is one of those times that I need to be very patient.

 

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