Star Wars: The Last Jedi, or “How I Turned to the Dark Side”

“ I feel the conflict within you. Let go of your hate.” – Luke Skywalker

So, with great trepidation, I saw The Last Jedi.

To all of the readers of my post on The Force Awakens, you both know I wasn’t a fan.  Well, as much as I hate to admit it, I really liked this one.

<< SPOILER ALERT>>

For the most part, my complaints with TFA were addressed in Last Jedi (I guess they read my blog).  Leia’s character was well-developed and more along the lines of what one would expect from her.  The only thing I found silly was when she started flying through space.  If one is familiar with the books, it does fit with her strength in The Force, but I’m not sure that came through as clearly in the movies.

The light saber battle in TFA between Kylo and Rey has been explained pretty well.  I still think there’s a big plot hole there:  Proficiency with a light saber is about technique augmented by The Force, and technique takes training and practice.  She needs both.  Sure, she can fight with a staff, but staves and swords are different weapons and require totally different training.

I appreciate the reference to the Jedi Temple, and Luke’s attempt to rebuild the Jedi Order.  That was a HUGE issue for me in the last movie.  Why in the world would Luke be out in the middle of nowhere when he should be out rebuilding the Order?

There are still some issues fans have with the movie, and most are legitimate:

  1. No backstory for Snoke
    I agree with this.  I was curious to see who Snoke was and how he came about.  I mean, how did he turn Ben Solo into Kylo Ren?  How did he start The First Order?  These should have been explained, and other entire story lines (Finn/Rose, anyone?) could have been cut to make room.
  2. Luke Skywalker attacks Ben Solo
    I agree with this, too.  Luke would NEVER have tried to kill a student.  But, here’s the twist:  He didn’t.  The version given by Kylo Ren is different than the version given by Luke.  According to Kylo, Luke attacked him in his sleep.  According to Luke, he was tempted to, but didn’t.  Which is the truth?  Well, I think I trust Luke more than Kylo.  Also, I can see how the devastating consequences of a momentary wavering of his conviction would cause Luke to abandon his role as Jedi Master and choose to live as a hermit.  To me, this was believable, if not what I wanted to see.
  3. Luke’s death
    I didn’t like this.  First, it was ambiguous… was it suicide, or did something involving his encounter with Kylo kill him?  Or, was it just the sheer effort required to pull off that kind of force projection?  That needed explanation.  Also, I don’t think Luke needed to die.  Rey needs training… and she’s not going to get it from the books she stole from the tree (even Yoda said the books don’t have the right info).  It would have made more sense, in my mind, to have Luke survive and join up with the rest of the resistance so he could train Rey.  Then again, it does take death to turn a hero into a legend.  So, maybe this plays out in the third installment.
  4. Humor
    Fans complain about the humor being forced and “un-Star Warsy”.  I disagree.  I thought the humor was well done.  I liked the “crank call” at the beginning because it fit Poe’s personality.  Also, I laughed out loud to the pilot’s response in the scene where General Hux argues with Kylo Ren about Kylo descending to the surface to face Luke.  On the other hand, it did kind of turn General Hux into a buffoon, so maybe the fans have a point.
  5. Finn/Rose
    I honestly thought there was no point to the whole Finn/Rose plot line.  It’s kind of like Raiders of the Lost Ark.  At the end of the day, nothing Indiana Jones did mattered.  The Nazis got the Ark, God killed them and the US Government recovered it and stored it away.  Indiana Jones didn’t even need to exist.  Ditto with Finn and Rose.  Their mission failed completely, the skimmer attack was unsuccessful and even Finn’s attempt to valiantly sacrifice himself didn’t work.  So, what was the point?  They could have sacrificed that entire story and used the time to answer a lot of questions from the first movie, namely:  Snoke’s origin and rise to power, Rey’s parentage, Kylo’s turn to the Dark Side and the Knights of Ren, the fate of Luke’s other students, etc.  Quite frankly, Rose didn’t need to exist and killing off Finn would probably make things simpler in the next installment.

Even given the complaints above, I have to admit I liked it.  I walked out feeling like it was a good movie.

I also thought it was a good Star Wars movie, and that’s a different thing altogether.

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The Netflix Match System – A Study in Generating Random Numbers

The problem with binge-watching on Netflix is that you lose three days of your life.”  – Harland Williams

Has anyone ever figured out how Netflix comes up with the match percentage that appears on the stuff that comes up on your main page?

I, for example, watch a lot of stand up comedy on Netflix.  So, I expect to get Bill Burr, Mike Berbiglia, etc.  I’ve also watched most of the Marvel movies that are on there as well as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and  Jessica Jones.

So, it makes total sense I’d get things like Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (or, as I like to call it, “Try Hard 2″… or is “Try 2 Hard” better?) or The Punisher to come up as matches for what I like to watch.  (Both of those are 98% matches).

So, why is Luke Cage a 74% match?  Because I watched Friends, does Netflix automatically assume I don’t like black people?

Here’s the one that just stuns me:  On my top bar, the movie “8 Mile” is a 98% match.

8 Mile.

98%.

Right next to “Ace Ventura:  When Nature Calls”.

Never mind that I really can’t stand anything about Eminem/Marshall Mathers/Skinny Shadow/Whatever.  And, forget the fact I haven’t watched anything at all like Ace Ventura on Netflix (and thought the first one was pretty abysmal).

How in the hell did Netflix determine that BOTH of these shows somehow rated a 98% match?

Which begs the question… Of what is this a 98% match?

I think it goes something like this:

  1. I just watched House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey.
  2. Kevin Spacey was in The Usual Suspects with Kevin Pollack.
  3. Kevin Pollack was in A Few Good Men with Kevin Bacon.

Wait… no, that’s the Kevin Bacon degrees of separation thing.

But, I did it in three degrees and all three are named Kevin, so I think that’s a 98% match for something.

 

Deleting the VTP Configuration From a Cisco Switch

WARNING:  If you follow the instructions here, you will wipe out your VTP and VLAN configurations.  Make sure you have backed up your switch!!!

I recently had some issues with a few low-end Cisco routers (RV325) and I opened a case with Cisco TAC.  The basic problem was that I couldn’t get the routers to route traffic in this kind of environment:

I wasn’t using the firewall feature; just routing.  (The firewalls in the diagram were ASAs).

Well, the Cisco engineer couldn’t figure out what was wrong, so I pulled a couple of routers out of the network and set up a small lab so the engineer could remote in and play with it.  The lab environment looked like this:

The networks were all connected with a Cisco 2950 24-port switch using VLAN and a Cisco 2601 configured as a router-on-a-stick.

I know… really old hardware, but it was just lying around collecting dust and it can do what I needed, so why not?

When I attempted to blank out the config, I couldn’t get rid of the VLANs… which reminded me how frustrating VTP can be.

For example, years ago, I borrowed one of these 2950’s from the datacenter where I have a few cabinets.  Before I returned it, I wiped the config.  Six months later, I get a call from their head engineer informing me that I had taken down the entire datacenter.

VTP configuration information is stored in the VLAN database, which is NOT deleted when one clears the config.  I had actually used VTP in my network, but they didn’t and the VTP operating mode of all of their switches were still the default – “server”.  So, when they put that switch back into production, my VTP config was pushed out across their network and every single VLAN database on every single switch was overwritten with my VLAN config.

This is one of the reasons why everyone should know how to clear the VTP config out of the VLAN database.

The VLAN database is stored as a file in the flash memory.  To see it, go into privileged mode and issue a directory command for flash:

The VLAN database is stored in the file “vlan.dat”.

Since Cisco represents the state-of-the-art for networking equipment, one could assume the VTP configuration could be reset by issuing a command such as “clear config vtp”.  Of course, one would assume incorrectly.

You actually have to delete the file:

 

Once you’ve done that, you should be good to go.  Reload the switch and you’ll find the VTP (and VLAN) configuration has been removed.

Hope this helps!

Moving the Offline Folder Cache in Windows (7, 8, 8.1 and 10)

WARNING:  This post involves playing around with your operating system’s registry.  You use this information at your own risk.  For other warnings, please see the disclaimer.

I’m a big fan of Windows’ offline folder caching and have used it on my laptops for over a decade.  One thing I don’t like about it, however, is how difficult Microsoft has made it for the cache to be moved out of the Windows folder.  (By default, it’s found at \Windows\CSC).

WARNING:  If this isn’t a FRESH installation of Windows, make sure you have synchronized your offline files.  This procedure will ERASE ALL EXISTING OFFLINE FILES AND FOLDERS!!!

In order to move the cache, follow these steps:

1. Clear the content of your existing cache
Yeah, you have to do this.  And, it’s not a very obvious procedure.  You end up creating a registry key that resets the cache at startup and then deletes itself.  Here’s the command to create the registry key (you can do this at a command prompt):

REG ADD “HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\CSC\Parameters” /v FormatDatabase /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f

Once you’ve done this, reboot.

2. Create the folder in the location where you’d like to have your cache
I always like to keep my data separate from my OS by storing it on a different drive (or, at the very least, a different partition).  For this example, I’m using the path X:\Data\Cache

3. Create a new registry value
Open Registry Editor and browse to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\CSC\Parameters

This is the same key we modified before.  Notice how there’s no “FormatDatabase” value even though we added it prior to the last reboot.

Right-click on Parameters, hover on New and select String Value:

String Value Key Menu

Name the new string value “CacheLocation”:

CacheLocation

Double-click on CacheLocation and input the path to the new cache location and then click “OK”:

Edit String

Notice the “\??\” in the value.  This is an NT Object Path used by the OS to reference the local path.  (If it was “\??\UNC\, it would be referencing a network path.)  You must use this format.

You’ll see the value populated now in your registry editor:

CacheLocation Populated

4. Reboot
 Once the OS is back up, it should be using the new location.  You can test this by opening the new folder and you should see a folder in there called “v.2.0.6”.  You should get a permission error if you try to open that folder.

I hope you find this useful!  If you see anything wrong, please let me know.

Post-Election Blues: Temper Tantrums and Meltdowns

When I saw the election results, it wasn’t so much that I was thrilled Trump got elected – it was more of a sense of relief that Hillary didn’t.

I decided the best course of action was to try and be a gracious winner and not gloat or rub anyone’s noses in it.

The events of this week, however, have changed my mind.  Now, I’m overjoyed Trump got elected.  And, as much as I know this is wrong, I’m experiencing a wave of schadenfreude as I watch liberals self-destruct.

To those children who are rioting in the streets and to those celebrities who are breaking down in tears:

All of you, to one degree or another, have no idea that you are like little robots.  Your party leaders don’t respect you; to the contrary.  They know you’re easily programmable and if they play the right tune, you’ll dance to it.

Why?

Because you honestly have no clue that people don’t have to agree with you.  You have no idea whatsoever that your feelings, no matter how strong, do not really matter in the general scheme of things.  The Democratic Party knows this and they use it get you to support anything they wish, factual or not.

Watching these disappointed children try to explain why they’re rioting is laughable.  They honestly have no idea.  All they know is they didn’t get their way even though they really, really, really wanted to.  To them, it’s is completely inexplicable that the elections results went against their desires because their feelings have always been put above everything else.  So, they do what they’ve always done:  throw a temper tantrum.

Watching celebrities completely break down is another thing that makes me happy to see Trump win.  Again, I’m not proud of this, but it’s true.

This is a group of people who are too dense to realize their sense of self-importance only exists because they’re pandered to by sycophants who make a living off of them.

Chelsea Handler broke down on camera and, as she bounced up and down on her chair like three-year-old crying because she has to eat her vegetables, explained how even though she wants to move to Spain, the people in her office told her she’s too important and has an obligation to stay.

Chelsea, you pay them.  What did you expect them to say?  “Oh, go ahead and move… we’ll find other jobs.”

Seth Meyers, you have what?  A 0.41 rating?  Good job… that means half of Jimmy Fallon’s audience changes the channel when you come on.

Miley Cyrus, at the end of her tear-filled breakdown video, said she accepted Donald Trump and the next day started an organization to oppose him.  Thanks for giving him a chance.  But, you said you were moving and aren’t, so we already knew you were a hypocrite.

Actors don’t realize they aren’t their characters.

Mark. Ruffalo, Bruce Banner is a genius.  You’re not.  Ben Affleck, Tony Mendez and Batman are heroes.  You’re the guy who played dress-up.  Robert DeNiro, you’ve played so many tough guy characters you actually think you’re a tough guy.  You do know that fights in real life aren’t scripted and rehearsed with stunt men, right?

And, who the hell is Lena Dunham?

To our puffed up actors:  We buy tickets to your movies despite your opinions, not because of them.  We like your characters even when we really think you’re an idiot.

You serve no purpose in our society than to give us a two hour distraction from what we do – contribute to society in real ways.

You’re not moving like you said you would because you think you’re too important when reality is it just wouldn’t matter.  And, honestly, none of us thought you would because we know that all you do is clamor for attention and there’s no real substance behind that pretty face (or Chelsea Handler’s face, or Whoopi’s face, or…)

I would, however like to thank you for your hysterics, your tears, your whining, your hypocrisy and your meltdowns.  You have served the only purpose you serve in society:

You’ve entertained us.

Fear and Arrogance: The Election of Donald Trump

“Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” – Mark Twain

Like most people, I’m still in a little bit of shock after the election results this week.  I’ve read a lot of articles and seen a lot of interviews, and I’ve found the backlash of this election to be highly entertaining, if not at all surprising.

I believe Trump’s election is the direct result of two things:  fear and arrogance.  More specifically, the fear of the Republicans and the arrogance of the Democrats.

The Republican Party, a.k.a “The Party Which Donald Trump Could Grab Groupies By”
The Republican Party has failed.  This is a party which idolizes Ronald Reagan, yet has rejected or watered-down every principle for which he stood.  We’re at the point where Republican politicians and Democrat politicians look a lot alike.

I’m looking at the GOP platform right now and it talks about things such as constitutional government, government reform, smaller government, etc.  In other words, all of the things the Republicans have completely failed to do.

Why?  Because they’re terrified to take a stand.

We (rightly) make fun of the “Snowflake” Millennials who need safe zones to protect their delicate little feelings.  Well, the GOP is the political party equivalent.  Republicans are terrified they’ll be bashed by the media and vilified by the political left.

Guess what?  It’s going to happen no matter what, so stop pandering.

You look at every Republican president and vice president we’ve had in the last 50 years and tell me which one was loved by the press.  Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush 41, Quayle, Bush 43 and Cheney were all ridiculed and/or demonized.  Granted Nixon deserved some of that, but he was no more crooked than his predecessor.  (I leave out Rockefeller because I honestly don’t remember him at all).

Why would any other Republican or conservative candidate expect to be treated differently?

Republican voters are tired of the GOP fielding weak and cowardly candidates.  They’ve been clamoring for a bold leader who would have the testicular fortitude to take on the left:  someone who is not afraid of the media, who doesn’t care about hurting people’s feelings and who is willing to call out politicians on their corruption, dishonesty and failures.

Like him or hate him, Donald Trump filled that role.

As much as Tuesday was a huge blow to the Democratic party, the GOP leadership should stand up and take notice.  Donald Trump – who isn’t even conservative – beat a bunch of Snowflake Republicans to get that nomination.  And the Republicans who lost their seats Tuesday were the ones who didn’t support him.

Hillary Clinton – The Middle Finger of the DNC
Hillary Clinton lost the election for one reason and one reason only:  she was the wrong candidate.  You can’t blame Comey.  You can’t blame the media.  Hell, you can’t even blame Trump.

Blame rests solely and completely with the Democratic Party.

Preparation for Hillary’s presidential campaign began when Bill Clinton was president.  The DNC got Nita Lowey out of the way so Hillary could take Giuliani’s senate seat.  When she lost to Obama in the 2008 primary, the DNC got her in as Secretary of State for Obama’s first term.  The next few years were spent building the biggest, most well-funded political machine the world has ever seen and that machine existed for the sole purpose of getting Hillary Clinton elected.

In the meantime:

  • People who were in financial crisis got to see Wall Street and the big auto makers get huge government bailouts.
  • Obama’s spending spree didn’t bring about the economic recovery he promised.
  • Millennials were shocked to find out there’s no such thing as a six-figure starting position, student loans have to be paid back and only their parents think they’re special.
  • The Democrats propped up the rhetoric of Occupy Wall Street to strengthen their own positions.
  • The reality of Obamacare hit people in the pocketbook like a $5,000 Band-Aid.

In steps Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders was able to tap into the discontent created by Occupy Wall Street, the failure of Obamacare, and the entitlement mentality and general neediness of Millennials.

Bernie Sanders was the voice of those his party had disappointed.  Like Trump, he was the guy who was anti-establishment and was going to shake up Washington and destroy the status quo.  He was The Revolution.

Not if Hillary had anything to say about it.

In using strong-arm tactics to secure the Democratic nomination for Hillary Clinton, the DNC fielded the one candidate who represented everything the voters had come to resent about politicians.  And in doing so, they gave a huge part of their base the middle finger.

This is where the Democrats were just as short-sighted and stupid as the Republicans.  Neither party recognized that voters are sick and tired of the political elite.  They’re tired of being lied to, lectured, ignored and trivialized.  They’re tired of special interest groups controlling politicians and politicians acting as if they’re above the law.  They’re angry about a health care plan so horrible the politicians who passed it made sure they wouldn’t have to use it.  They’re tired of shady deals and the absence of accountability.

Donald Trump got the Republican nomination because he was an outsider going against the political elite.  Bernie Sanders, had the nomination not been stolen from him, would have won the Democratic nomination because he was a revolutionary who was going against the political elite.

One has to wonder…. Would Sanders have beaten Trump?