Kevin C. Wong

Spot Reviews 05/28/20

L'oro Del Sud Fettuccine [/] Got this at Trader Joe's. 100% durum wheat semolina. Almost tastes like egg noodles which is a nice change of pace, although after eating this for a while it's just pasta.

Anker 10 Port 60W Data Hub [-] This was recommended by the Wirecutter. USB hub with seven data ports and three power-only ports. I bought it 2y 4m ago and it worked pretty well. Recently I realized that it is unstable when doing large file transfers and will momentarily drop a device and break the transfer. This is whether one or both devices are on the hub. As such I no longer use it and as a side effect big file transfers are about twice as fast using my MBP as the hub.

Twitch - Lile Kordize [/] 18-year old Woman FIDE Master from Georgia (the country). She's a really good bullet player and is very cheerful. Unfortunately she also starts her streams about 02:00 to 04:00 Pacific time so I don't see too many of her streams.

TV Show - Batwoman s1 (2019) [/]

Batwoman is a CW superhero tv show based on the Batman universe character Batwoman. Kate Kane (Ruby Rose) returns to Gotham some years after Bruce Wayne disappeared. With crime rampant she discovers the Bat Cave and with the help of Lucius Fox's son Luke (Camrus Johnson) decides to don the mantle of Batwoman (a name which comes in a few episodes in) to protect Gotham.

Kate's father Jacob Kane (Dougray Scott) runs the Crows, a private security agency which protects the rich part of Gotham while the regular police protect the rest. As a vigilante Batwoman is a threat to the law and order of Jacob's world so he assigns his lieutenant Sophie Moore (Meagan Tandy) to track down Batwoman and arrest her. Sophie also happens to be Kate's former lover who betrayed Kate and got her expelled from the police academy.

The last two main characters are Beth Kane (Rachel Skarsten) and Mary Hamilton (Nicole Kang). Beth went missing two decades ago and is presumed dead only to return as the villainous Alice bent on revenge on the father and sister that abandoned her. Mary is Kate's stepsister, a socialite instagram celebrity who runs an illegal clinic to help the poor of Gotham. Much of the subplots revolve around these characters and Kate's relationship to them.

For the most part the show is entertaining but not riveting. Rachel Skarsten is really good and everyone else is ok. Maybe the show is trying to be a bit darker then the others so not quite to my tastes.

Farm Fresh To You [+]

Farm Fresh To You is a farm produce delivery service in the Bay Area. When you sign up you can set the schedule and size of box you receive. I did a small fruit box every two weeks. A small box is about 12-14 items so enough for a daily fruit for one person. Most of the other boxes have more (or all) vegetables.

I received four shipments and the contents vary though they tell you well beforehand. It's about half apples (of various kinds) and half other fruits in season, usually 2 of each fruit and sometimes one. You can modify your box and the web site makes it easy. Add fruits or vegetables that come in standard boxes. But you can also add various meats, dairy and baked goods (mostly from local producers).

Small box is $28. The prices are a bit more expensive though in general better quality goods than at a big supermarket. I'd guess about the same prices as a quality grocery store like the local Draeger's Market.

Delivery was no problem. They leave the box at your door overnight. There's a box with the produce and a bag with ice packs and refrigerated goods you added. You have a couple of days to tell them (on the website) if there was anything damaged or missing. Sunday they billed my credit card (my delivery was Wednesday morning).

Overall a nice service.

Spot Reviews 05/21/2020

Trail's End Kettle Corn [-] This is a Boy Scouts microwave popcorn. As usual often a bit stale and not as good as real caramel popcorn (although I'm not into sweet popcorn).

TV Show - Supergirl s5 (2019) [/] In this season the main villains are a group of gods working behind the scenes, using a new VR product to take over humanity. Crisis on Infinite Earths happens in episode 9 and after that the universe resets with Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer) as the world's hero, though he also wants to take over the world and those pesky gods are now in his way... Sort of a ho hum season, entertaining but not special.

macOS App - Mitch for Twitch v1.8 (2020) [-] It's a Twitch client for $3. Looks nice. You can view multiple channels each in its own window. Chat doesn't show right now probably due to Twitch API changes. There are also some other bugs and developer does not seem extremely responsive. But there are no other Twitch clients on the App Store and I wanted to test out an alternative to using a web browser.

Anime - Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995) [/]

Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995) is a 26-episode anima set in 2015 Tokyo-3. Earth is being periodically attacked by Angels and it's up to NERV and its Mecha to stop them. The story kind of centers on Shinji (Casey Mongillo), teen Mecha pilot draftee and one of the very few people who can pilot Mecha (and the other pilots in the series are also teens). Shinji is the best Mecha pilot but is withdrawn and is full of self-doubt mostly driven by his estranged relationship with dad Gendo (Ray Chase), commander of NERV.

The other main pilots are Rei (Ryan Bartley), a quiet girl who seemingly has no life outside her Mech. She is the first pilot, Shinji is the second recruit. Third pilot Asuka (Stephanie McKeon) arrives a few episodes in, a German teen striving to prove herself the best pilot. All three are driven by their own demons and the series goes into it a bit. One of the themes is teen soldiers and how it changes them.

Mecha combat is fairly interesting. Each Angel is quite different so every battle is interesting. NERV Mecha fight plugged into the power grid and once they unhook only have two or three minutes of power. The Mecha are semi-alive and pilots have to interphase with them (hence why you need teens) and later on we finds out the horrible truth of how Mecha are created.

For the most part it's an ok series. Towards the end it gets very psychological as the Angels start targeting the pilots' psyches. The last two episodes are particularly boring explorations inside the mind of each pilot and I'm not sure if the resolution is real or a dream. So a series that starts out promising fizzles out at the end.

Board Game - Gloomhaven (2017) [+]

Gloomhaven is a legacy dungeon crawl board game for 1 to 4 players. It's a fantasy world and at first you are doing random sort of missions but later on the metaplot asserts itself and you have a big picture goal.

It's a legacy game in that each character is a box of special cards and tokens and once a character achieves their goal they leave the campaign, which is fine because later characters are more powerful, though more complex to use. It's also legacy in that revealed locations have stickers you put on the map and depending on choices I bet you can never reach all locations.

Characters have a pack of action cards. Each card has a top action and a bottom action, in general top is do something and bottom is movement. There are also default top and bottom actions to do a small attack or a small movement.

Each turn you choose two cards and place them face down, choosing which card is your initiative card. Once everyone has done that (including bad guys) reveal. Each combatant goes in initiative order low to high. When it's your turn choose a top action and a bottom action, so you have a little bit of flexibility when it gets to your turn. Sometimes a combination you setup doesn't present itself so you choose the alternate actions or the default ones (powerful actions tend to send card to discard pile). Cards then go to your used pile.

You can recover used cards by doing a no-action turn and discarding a used card of your choice (I think you also heal a bit this way). Or you can recover at the end of your turn by discarding a random used card. Or some cards allow you to do a recovery with/without discard. But in general you are losing cards as the session goes on and once you have one card you are out of the adventure.

Adventures are fairly tight and often the PCs are down to a few cards each. if you fail you can redo an adventure but there is a penalty.

Gloomhaven kind of plays like a light RPG without the role-playing. You have equipment to buy and upgrade, you level up characters and unlock alternate cards (making for a bit of deck building element), you get skills that give you small bonuses. We only played three sessions before COVID-19 but it is a fun game which we might restart using Asmodee's official app.

Spot Reviews 05/14/2020

Zachary's Western Deep Dish Pizza [/] One of their weekly specials. "Italian sausage, onion, bacon, sweet-smoky barbecue sauce and mozzarella cheese (served with Zachary’s pizza sauce." It's ok, though I'm not into BBQ sauce so that's a taste I'd rather not have in pizza.

Movie - The Commuter (2018) [/] Retired police detective Michael (Liam Neeson) has an hour to find a witness on his daily commute train or the mob will murder his family. Entertaining thriller.

Twitch - WFM Alessia Santeramo [/] Italian chess player. She's kind of flamboyant and a fun person. As usual for European streamers, a bit tough to catch all her streams in America.

TV Show - Young & Hungry (2014) [/]

I watched the whole five seasons (I think I watched the first three seasons before). Kind of a rom-com sitcom. Gabi (Emily Osment) is hired as personal chef to San Francisco based dot-com enterpreneur Josh (Jonathan Sadowski).They end up sleeping together the first night and then spend the rest of the series trying to be professional then being in a relationship then back to professional. Meanwhile there are Gabi's friend Sofia (Aimee Carrero) and coworkers Yolanda (Kym Whitley) and Elliot (Rex Lee) to provide subplots.

The formula works for the first three seasons but I think it loses steam in the last two seasons. They're pretty much in a relationship, thinking about getting married in the latter seasons and so the new problem is not having sex because that's what has ruined their previous relationships. It's fairly consistent that once the two leads finally end up together a series becomes less interesting.

Anyways, a nice show for the first three seasons.

iOS Game - Raid: Shadow Legends (2019) [+]

Raid: Shadow Legends is a free to play fantasy battle game. You have heroes to collect which you can enhance in several ways:

  • Level up to max for their Rank, then Upgrade to next Rank and level up again up to 6* Level 60.
  • Nine item slots with a variety of semi-random equipment you can find (not Diablo-level random but you can scum looking for items with specific extra bonuses).
  • Each item belongs to a set and if you equip the set (2 or 4 items, depending on set) the hero gets an additional bonus.
  • Each item can be enchanted with glyphs which increase the bonuses a bit but every bit counts.
  • Each item can be upgrade from level 0 to 12.
  • Three skill trees (which I think are the same for each hero) and you can only choose two trees to upgrade and only about half the skills can be activated.
  • Ascend once per Rank level which gives a bit of attribute boost and for some heroes enables an extra skill.

For adventuring there are many things do:

  • Campaign with a dozen locations, each location with 7 encounters. Each encounter you can get one to three stars, three stars if you beat it with two heroes (out of four possible slots) and no deaths. The campaign has four difficulty levels.
  • Dungeons are locations for special items. Potion keeps used for Ascension. Minotaur for scrolls used up upgrade skills. Spider, Ice Golem, Dragon and Fire Knight for rarer equipment than those found in Campaign.
  • Arena for semi PvP play. As you beat players you get points and rank up in the arena. At the end of the week you get random rare items based on your arena rank.
  • Faction Wars. Each hero belongs to one of a dozen or so factions. In the Wars you use heroes of the same faction to beat enemies and collect glyphs.
  • Clan Boss. A huge monster that you and the rest of your clan can fight. Get rare item chests (different sets than available anywhere else, and Arena has different item sets than found anywhere else) and if the boss is defeated then double prizes.

The actual battles are not that complicated. Each encounter is three rounds of 4x4 fights (Campaigns only, everywhere else you can use five heroes). When a hero goes you choose one of your skills (base attacks kill and up to three other skills) then tap on target. And that's all the choice in a battle -- there is no movement or delaying to sequence attacks. It's still a lot tactical finesse because of which heroes you use. But after a few battles it gets both long and boring so I use auto battle almost all the time.

There's a bunch of other little things. And of course silver and gems which you can purchase with real money. Actually the in-apps are very expensive compared to other games. I bought two ($5 for 500 gems, $10 for 2100 gems over the course of a month) and I hope that'll be it for me (there is a gem mine which I upgraded and with daily bonus that's 25 gems per day, not a huge amount but most f2p games don't give you this ability).

I've been playing almost two months. It's very grindy but entertaining without being extremely complicated. It has replaced Star Trek Timelines as my f2p game.


  • It's resource intensive and drains battery quickly.
  • If I go away or 15 minutes then on reload it has to restart the game which takes 15 to 30 seconds.
  • Every time you go to home screen, which you do often, you get one to three ads for in-app special purchases.

Spot Reviews 05/08/2020

Trader Giotto's Arugula Pizza [/] With cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, manchego, provolone, pecorino cheese. Come out crispy. Very cheesy.

Apple Arcade - Mini Motorways (2019) [/] Sequel to Mini Metro this game is also a game of building roadways so that people can get to their destinations. It's a bit less abstract -- houses and factories with people going to work and back home -- but much the same idea. Because it's a bit finer grained (points are closer together and you have limited road resources) there is an edit UI but I found it cumbersome to use. Because of this Mini Metro might be the better game.

Movie - Angel Has Fallen (2019) [/] Third movie in the series. An attempt is made on President Trumbull's (Morgan Freeman) life and Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is framed for it. Banning must evade the FBI while he hunts fo the real culprits. Not as good as the first two movies in that it's a more run-of-the-mill concept compared to assaulting the White House and rampaging through London.

TV Show - War of the Worlds s1 (2019) [+]

War of the Worlds is a British/French television show taking place now during an alien invasion. At first hundreds of car-sized spherical objects strike the Earth, mainly in large urban areas. As governments and people try to figure out what's going on the objects emit a pulse killing all people nearby except ones underground or otherwise safe from EM radiation. This conveniently means that the cast stays fairly small and that the few alien machines that go around killing survivors are a credible threat.

Over the course of eight episodes the show revolves around various groups of people:

  • Catherine (Léa Drucker), an astronomer who first recorded the alien objects approaching Earth, Colonel Mokrani (Adel Bencherif) and his platoon, at a remote observatory.
  • Bill (Gabriel Byrne), a university professor, with his ex-wife Helen (Elizabeth McGovern) trying to find their son.
  • Sarah (Natasha Little), a mom with two teenagers, Tom (Ty Tennant) and Emily (Daisy Edgar-Jones), the latter blind but recovers her sight after the alien invasion.
  • Jonathon (Stephen Campbell Moore), Sarah's husband trying to return home, with single mom Chloe (Stéphane Caillard) and her teenage son Sacha (Mathieu Torloting), the latter two harboring terrible secrets.
  • Kariem (Bayo Gbadamosi), an African illegal immigrant.

The show is fairly well done. Slow paced and suspenseful. The introduction and later usage of the alien warbots is quite chilling. Lots of mysteries abound: why only a few warbots to finish the job, why did the aliens come here, why are some people "connected' with the aliens. The last episode gives us a bit of hope -- a possible weapon against the aliens -- along with a couple of surprises -- a reveal of an "alien" operator and possibly regular military in force.

An interesting science fiction show and I hope to someday watch the second season.

Apple Arcade - Card of Darknes (2019) [+]

Card of Darkness is a card-based dungeon crawling game. Each level is a 5x5 grid of card piles with each pile having 2 to 5 cards. Only the top cards are shown and only for the bottom row at first and later for any piles connecting to a blank space that you've cleared of cards. You have 20 hit points and no items and you're objective is to get to the exit stairs on the other side of the grid to get to the next level and eventually to the exit. A dungeon has 1 to 6 levels and there are 50+ dungeons.

Card types are weapons, monsters, heal potions and spell scrolls. Monsters have a damage rating and a weapon subtracts its rating from the monster rating. Using an even/odd weapon versus a non-matching even/odd monster breaks the weapon (e.g. weapon 5 versus monster 4 you take no damage but break your weapon). Spell scrolls are one use, have a set effect and in later dungeons are unknown (though confined to 2 or 3 effects) until you use one and then you now the exact spell for that scroll type.

Monsters are very varied. Some of the special abilities: poisons you, curses you (if you pick the same number card twice in a row you take damage equal to the number), confuses you (hides card types but not numbers for two or three turns), combines with nearby cards, randomly trades places with a nearby card, changes value based on other cards. The various monsters kind of develop personalities as you get to know their effects.

When you complete a dungeon you get a card of darkness and eventually there are 52. Before you go into a dungeon you can select which cards you equip (up to five). In the end I had

  • Card of Life: max health +3 (to start with 23 hit points)
  • Card of Strength: strength potions are +2 each (normal barehanded damage is 0, in some dungeons with enough strength potions you don't need weapons and your fists don't break)
  • Card of Return: first time you are killed you revive with 1 hp (turns out rarely useful since if it gets to the point you die the freebie still leaves you with a level that will kill you immediately)
  • Card of Stalwarts: cannot die from poison (this is a late game card and never used the effects but many monsters and some potions poison you)
  • Card of Keeping: picking a new weapon does not replace your current weapon but instead adds 1 to current weapon value (another late game card and turned out extremely useful because you can pick up weapons to change your current weapon even/odd so it won't break)

Levels have a semi-random set of card types and randomly distributed so bad luck can get you killed quickly but you just restart and try again. Most dungeons you can finish within 5 minutes (and the game auto-saves your progress) and even the one tough 6-level dungeon probably took me 3 to 4 hours over a day or two to finally get a good combination of cards and a bit of luck.

Overall a fun game with just enough strategy to keep it interesting.

Spot Reviews 05/01/2020

Zachary's Butternut Squash Pizza [/] Weekly special: Butternut squash, spinach, red onion, goat cheese and mozzarella topped with fresh parsley. It's ok. Butternut squash can be mistaken for soft carrots. You can tell it's a different cheese. Otherwise it's much like a spinach and mushroom pizza.

Movie - I Do, But I Don't (2004) [/] TV movie rom-com. Lauren (Denise Richards) is an overworked assistant wedding designer. She falls for firefighter Nick (Dean Cain) but turns out he's getting married to her latest assignment, the wedding of socialite Gennifer (Jessica Walter). Fairly typical, innocuous, and feel-good.

Twitch - ChessySpagett [/] Chessy plays on Lichess (about 1500? rating) and has a good sense of humor. Plays good music and interacts well with his audience. He's a fan of Marc Esserman (whyyyyyyysoserious) so there's a lot of "mock", which I guess is their term for trolling. I do like Chessy's stream even if I don't visit it often.