Revisiting Old (TV) Friends

I was surfing through my usual YouTube news feed where I see a bunch of different videos from reaction videos, to tech reviews, to sports talk or highlights, to political commentary; when out of nowhere, a most interesting out of the box video was recommended to me. Somewhere, somehow, the YouTube algorithm figured out that I was a fan of Scrubs (though I haven’t seen this show in ages) and recommended a reunion panel that was taking place at the ATX TV Festival in Austin, TX.

Needless to say, this definitely piqued my interest and I happily watched it. Watching this panel I realized that Bill Lawrence, creator of Scrubs, also co-created another show that I really like called Ted Lasso. Boy am I oblivious. the sense of humor of both shows are so similar how could I not make that connection? Anyways, I also discovered the podcast that is done by Zach Braff and Donald Faison, called Fake Doctors. Real Friends, where they re-watch Scrubs episodes, talk about their experience with said episode and also invite fellow cast members or guest stars to also talk about their experience on the show. They even have fans call in to ask questions about the show or about Zach, Donald and company in general.

This panel has rekindled my Scrubs fandom and I’m now re-watching it alongside the podcast. The podcast is definitely a great companion piece to listen alongside the show. The irony, the podcast episodes can go for an hour or more; whereas, each tv episode generally runs around 22 minutes or so. So of course, I’m already on season 3 of the show but I’m still listening to Zach and Donald talk about season 2 and trying to remember the episodes I’ve already watched a while. I’m trying to hold off on binging more Scrubs episodes so I can catch up with the podcast but it is feeling like a losing battle.

Regardless, I found a fresh way to rewatch Scrubs and it has made my viewing experience all the more richer.

Multiverses Galore

Spoiler Alert: This post will/may reveal key plot points to movies discussed!

It seems to me that the latest sci-fi/fantasy trend in movies is the theme of multi-verses. I recently managed to watch 3 such theme-related movies (haven’t seen the animated Spider-man: Into The Spider-Verse) and it was interesting the takes on the multiverse that each one took. Oddly enough the more down to earth storyline of the three that I watched (Everything Everywhere All At Once) seemed to be the one more oriented in the rules of sci-fi. Both Marvel movies used magic as the foundation for their multi-verse storylines. 

So as stated, both epic Marvel movies (Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness) used magic as the base and launching point into the multiverse. With Spider-Man, Peter Parker was revealed as Spider-man while also framed as a villain and no one in S.H.I.E.L.D. or the remaining Avengers spoke to his defense. So left to his devices Peter came up with an idea, ask Doctor Strange to make everyone forget his identity as Spider-Man. 

So far so good, right? Well, Peter immediately remembered that there are some select people he wants to still remember his identity, while Doctor Strange was in mid-spell. Long story short, the spell got botched and somehow this faulty memory spell opened up Peter’s version of Earth to other versions. Enter cameos of Alfred Molina, Toby McGuire, Andrew Garfield, Jamie Foxx, etc., reprising their roles from previous Spiderman movies. In the end, to rectify this SNAFU, Peter Parker acknowledges that the original forgetfulness spell needs to be executed without any amendments. Doctor Strange does the spell, everyone forgets who Peter Parker is and all is well with the world. 

Then comes the Doctor Strange movie. In this film, there is a girl, America Chavez who has this uncontrollable ability to jump between multi-verses. This ability was triggered when she was young and was scared about being stung by a bee. This fear triggered her first multiverse portal that sucked in her parents and they were lost forever (as far as we know). Because of her ability, she’s being chased by demons, The film starts with her running alongside a Doctor Strange variant who is trying to get to the mythological book of Vishanti to fend off the demon that is chasing them. The battle looks fruitless and it seems the only solution is to kill America and take her powers before the demon does. Apparently this isn’t the first Doctor Strange variant to come to this conclusion. Well luckily for America, This Doctor Strange meets an untimely demise at the hands of the demon and she jumps into the version of Earth that we have become familiar with in the MCU. 

Once MCU Doctor Strange is up to speed, along with his Master Supreme (this DS didn’t make the cut because he was “blipped” by Thanos and was missing for 5 years), he decides to consult with Wanda Maximoff AKA Scarlett Witch to help, since it seems magic is at play (you know demons, runes and all). Well, it turns out that Wanda is the villain in this story and she was the one ordering demons to chase America for her purposes. And what’s her motive? If you saw Wandavision you know that she created a fantasy family to escape the reality that Vision was no longer alive and with her. In this fantasy family world, she spawned two kids (Billy and Tommy). Turns out that in other multiverses, there are Wandas that are actually living this family dream and she wants that for herself (lets ignore the fact that this means killing off one of these Wandas and taking their life as her own). This storyline is concluded when America gains control of her powers, “gives” Wanda what she wants, and jumps her to a Billy and Tommy variant whose mother was thoroughly used by Scarlet Witch to kill off their world’s illuminati (their version of the Avengers). Scarlet Witch, seeing the fear of god she instilled on these kids, she’s come to the realization that she cannot replace their mother even though it’s another Wanda variant. With this, she’s set to sacrificing herself (since she has no reason to keep on living) and destroys every version of the Darkhold (the book of black magic that she was using and the antithesis to the book of Vishanti) in all the multiverses. 

In the film “Everything Everywhere All At Once” the audience follows the life of Evelyn Wang (played by Michelle Yeoh), a Chinese-American woman running a struggling laundromat with her “hapless” husband, Waymond, and is stressing out as she’s trying to get all her receipts in order for her audit with the IRS agent, Deidre Beaubeirdre, played by Jamie Lee Curtis. On the way there, Evelyn’s husband, Waymond takes on a different personality and tries to explain that he’s Waymond from the Alphaverse. Not only that, but his departed Alpha-Evelyn was the one who created the verse-jumping technology that allows you to access the memories, skills, etc., of your parallel universe counterpart. Alpha-Evelyn is also responsible for causing irreparable psyche damage to her daughter Alpha-Joy, causing her to transform into Jobu Tupaki, a dark sinister force that has the ability to rewrite any reality and who created an everything bagel blackhole with the ultimate goal to destroy the multiverse. 

This film tackle philosophy, existentialism and family values with a voyeuristic acid trip feel, that resolves the storyline with love and acceptance. Basically all the Joys in the different verses could never satisfy their Evelyn-mom equivalent. This was especially true of Alpha-Joy whose mind was splintered by Alpha-Evelyn who kept forcing her to verse jump. Because of this, Jobu Tupaki was jumping into every different verse until she could find the one Evelyn that could truly understand her nihilistic point of view and was willing to end their existence by jumping into the Everything-bagel-blackhole (which was its true intention, not the destruction of the multiverse). 

Jobu Tupaki came close to black pilling Evelyn, the long suffering laundromat owner, but then her version of Waymond somehow broke through her dark outlook on life with the message of hope and kindness. With this newfound perspective, she was able to defeat her foes by finding their happiness from the different verses and sharing it with them and then finally saves Jobu Tupaki from her suicidal fate and also reconcile her strained relationship with her own version of Joy. 

It was interesting how the three multiverse related films were all dealing with different versions of human nature. The first two were dealing with selfish desires. One for the desire to be forgotten and unknown again. The other was about the desire of making one’s selfish desires come true. The third one was about familial concerns. True there were different selfish wants and needs sprinkled in, but it was for the outcome that would best serve others rather than the self. Joy/Jobu Tupaki wanted to end her existence because she felt she was not needed and her family would be better off without her. Her father (laundromat Waymond) wanted to divorce Evelyn because he felt that it was in the best interest for Evelyn since she “didn’t love him anymore” and would be better off in the long run. And Evelyn was just trying to get past the audit so she can keep everything afloat, please her never satisfied father, and continue keeping the family together. Also, the third film was more rooted in science fiction which I felt made for a more compelling story. Their concepts and premises were still rather ridiculous and off the wall (to trigger access to a skill from another self, you would have to do something nonsensical and out of character, like blow into someone’s nose for example). Whereas with magic, I feel you can always just create a new rule on the spot and always have a cop out to right the course of the story. At least that was my experience watching these films.

Apple Pay may finally work on Chrome, Edge, and Firefox in iOS 16 – The Verge

Apple Pay may finally work on Chrome, Edge, and Firefox in iOS 16 – The Verge

Apple Pay may finally work on Chrome, Edge, and Firefox in iOS 16 – The Verge

As I mentioned in my previous post, I really like Apple Pay. This feature coming to iOS 16 will make iPhone all the more customizable and let you use any browser with Apple Pay as a payment option. No longer having to be forced to use Safari when shopping online. Can’t wait!

From iPhone to Android, Back to iPhone

I’ve been an iPhone user since 2014. Actually that’s not true. I dabbled with Android with an HTC M7 around 2013 and used iPhones before that (think my first iPhone was iPhone 3G). Regardless, I have been mostly an iPhone user and have been satisfied with my experience for the most part. iOS just works with no complications. And if your waist deep in the ecosystem, you appreciate the overall experience of all your Apple devices working with one another seamlessly. And yet, despite years of a hassle free experience with iOS, I still felt compelled to look over to see what I was missing on the Android side of things.

There’s an old adage: If it ain’t broke, dont’ fix it. And yet here I went and tried to “fix it”. I felt bored, and restless. I partly blame all the kdramas I have been consuming these past few years (all you see are Samsung phones being used in them). So I took the plunge and for 2 weeks or so, I was using a Samsung S22+. I did enjoy some of the customizations opportunities that one gets with Android (default keyboards, browsers, and arranging your apps to your liking are very well implemented). But that’s been the bulk of my Android use. I wasn’t using it as much, the way I would with an iPhone, to read my news blogs, listen to my podcasts or music, and play my casual games like sudoku or solitaire. No, at least 20 to 30% of my Android use was devoted to further tinkering settings and trying to recreate some of the experiences I missed using the iPhone.

Two weeks in, and I decided I had my fun and now it’s back to what works best for me. Samsung S22+ is on it’s way back to Samsung, and an iPhone 13 is on its way to me (slight upgrade from my previous 12 pro). So what made me decide to bail on Android and go back to what I know best and with what I am most comfortable? There are a few things and I’ll list them here.

iMessage:

I won’t go into too much detail to explain iMessage. iPhone users know all about it. Android users don’t have the pleasure to use it. Needless to say, for SMS/iMessage conversations, it just looks nicer and has a boatload of features that the standard Android Messages app doesn’t provide. And how could it? It’s just SMS messaging. There are several cross-platform apps of course, but the people I most communicate are iPhone users and just love the ease of use of iMessage and don’t want to bother with Whatsapp, Signal, Telegram, etc. So yeah, this is definitely one of the reasons to go back to iPhone (that darn Apple ecosystem in play again).

Apple Pay:

For contactless payments, Apple Pay is an absolute pleasure. It just works and is simple to use. Just double-press your side-button, use Face ID/Touch ID or passcode, pick your payment method (unless you have a default one that you always use) and let the card reader scan your phone, and done. My experience with Samsung Pay and Google Wallet/Pay has been hit or miss. Plus the way to use Samsung Wallet is a little more cumbersome than just a double-press of the side button on an iPhone. The issue with Google Wallet is that there is also Google Pay. Google has a habit of trying to fix things that are already working (which this post shows I’m guilty of). Google Pay/Wallet is no exception. It has gone through many different brandings and iterations. They did the same with messaging apps. This uncertainty makes me want to stick with Samsung Pay for contactless payments but the execution isn’t the smooth experience I became accustomed to with iPhone. I can tolerate it and deal with it but why should I?

VLC:

This was my biggest disappointment on Android and made me finally decide on switching back. For those that don’t know, “VLC is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVDs, Audio CDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.” It has been my go for my video files on all my Apple devices. It’s great and just works. My favorite feature on iOS/Apple TV/iPad side of things, is the ability to send files to VLC via Wi-Fi. Just turn on “sharing via Wi-Fi”, you get a 192.168… url and you use a browser and drag and drop files over. That feature isn’t available on Android. So how do I drag files over? Connecting my Android to my Mac wasn’t enough to give me that option. Going to a VLC for Android support page didn’t give me any answers.

After struggling with different search queries I finally stumbled upon an answer. By simplifying my search to: transfer files from mac to android, I came across Android File Transfer. With this work around I moved media files to my phone. But wait, how is the video playback? Not good. If I stream video from streaming apps like Amazon, Crunchyroll, etc, those apps make good use of the screen, albeit with side bars but that’s fine. Not so with VLC. Either I get 16:9 ratio but it uses a fraction of the display, or fit screen but then it zooms in and crops out a good portion of the video making fit screen a non-option. Fill, 4:3, and Center are no better. Why can’t VLC on Android fill the screen the way the streaming apps can? This was never an issue for me on my iPhone or iPad.

Final Thoughts:

So yeah VLC was the final straw for me. I was able to make do with Feedly and Pocket Casts as alternatives to Reeder and Overcast for my news feeds and podcasts. But VLC for Android just paled in comparison to VLC on iOS. That along with other little nit picky things (aside from what I just mentioned), was enough for me to call it quits on my short-lived experimentation with Android. It’s just not for me. I’m an Apple user and I have to just accept it, come to terms with it, and not make this whimsical folly again.

The More Things Change The More They Remain The Same

Once again, I took a hiatus from blogging and once again I’m back to give this blogging/writing thing a chance. Also, I have backtracked from what I said I have done in the last blog post. I reactivated my Twitter account. I’m back on Reddit as well. I even did some podcasting again before finally pulling the plug on it today.

I keep going back and forth on decisions and actions with one stance or another and then do a complete 180 on said stance after some time. Blogging has definitely taken the bulk of being put on the back burner of all my hobbies. And yet, here we are again. Will it stick this time around? Guess time will tell.

My current reasoning is that I have been increasingly dissatisfied with my podcasting. Maybe it’s the self-islolation, but I feel like it’s hard for me to voice my thoughts and opinions like I have inthe past. Not having people to talk to on a regular (customers at work aside) has affected my talking skills for sure. This has resulted in painstakingly spending ridiculous amounts of time editing the audio recordings. And let’s not even bother talking about making transcripts with otter.ai. Just more time disappearing before my eyes. And the end result was a final product that I didn’t feel too satisfied with.

Writing/blogging is definitely less time consuming. I just have to make the effort to push myself to type words on a. blank page, reread to confirm all dots and commas are where they need to be and then publish. So far, so good for for 2022. We’ll see if I will keep this up.