Apr 16

Family Cruise to Puerto Vallarta

So the family just recently got back from our first family cruise in over 6 years as we hadn’t done a cruise since my boys where 5 and 2 and that was a Disney cruise so many years ago I can barely remember.  What’s worse is the kids were too young at the time and neither one has an memory of the Disney cruise at all, only pictures that prove they were on it.

So this time we did the Carnival cruise and were aboard the Miracle ship, we drove to Long Beach which is only 1.5 hours without traffic from where we live and is nice to be able to drive to the major port the ship leaves out of without having to fly like we did from Arizona.  We departed on Saturday 4/4 and our adventure began.  One great thing about this 7 day cruise was not just the ports but the activities to keep the family busy all day long as well as the wide variety of food.

Food there was, there is no joke when people say you will get fat on a cruise, it is 24 hour of non-stop food and they had a 24 hour Pizza bar which served up very good pizza, better than almost all delivery places all day long.  But the formal dining is where it’s at, and while I can tell you from experience that the cuisine is a bit higher quality on Royal Caribbean cruises from past cruises with the wife the food is still very fine nonetheless.

What I really like is each night of the reservation dinner night, they have a varied menu but one thing they have that I didn’t see in previous cruises is a “Try It” item, which is 1 rare or exotic food dish that is meant for people to try something new and different.  It usually is a starter that stands out and is highlighted and my oldest son Mason who is 11 was eager to broaden his culinary horizons.

One night we dined on Alligator Fritters which were fantastic, while another night Braised Ox Tongue was the option.  Escargot on another night and Frogs Legs soaked in heavy butter on yet another evening.  All were tried and only my 8 year old wouldn’t eat or try anything that wasn’t Pizza, Chicken Nuggets, Chicken Breast, French Fries or White Rice.  This was a great experience and my wife used it to help teach the kids formal dining etiquette (at least enforce it more).  Ironically unlike most previous cruises I took less pictures on this vacation than any previous vacation.  Nobody brought laptops, and I didn’t even bring my iPad. My phone was used only for minor check-ins at port and for telling time but was no good with no signal most of the time at sea.  The kids had Kindle Fire HDX tablets only to entertain them at bed time but generally had extermely little technology time other than maybe 1/2 hour per day on the tablets.

We did shows every evening, one night was a juggling act which was my son’s favorite of the whole trip with the worlds fastest juggler.  They also have Stand Up Comedy every single night and we had a great time watching those as well.  Music performances were good on most evenings and varied from 80’s shows to others.  And this was the cruise itself, didn’t even talk about what we did at the ports.

In Cabo San Lucas where we visited 2 days, the first day was just exploring and shopping, we ate at a local Oyster bar after eating at Cabo Wabo and I had way too many oysters as it turns out.  The kids found new Fedora hats which they love to wear whenever they can and show them off, the haggled with their own merchants to get the best price possible as well.  On the 2nd day we did the Salsa and Salsa Excursion where for 3 hours we made 7 different salsa’s and the boys were even put up front and competed with each other on which one would make the best salsa with all participants tasting and judging their salsa’s.  They also did a little bit of the salsa dance lesson, okay only Oliver who is 8 did, Mason stayed seated and watched for this one.

In Puerto Vallarta is where we had the real magic too, swimming with Sea Lions was the excursion and it was a blast, we had some of the most fun times and a video and pictures to show it.  They were very well trained as we swam, pet and played with two 11 and 13 year old sea lion females and learned more about them.

Here is video of our Sea Lion adventure.

All in all, if you ever are in a position where you can afford a cruise vacation with the family, it is a fantastic way to spend quality time together (or get some time apart) they have clubs where the kids can be dropped off and you can get alone time as adults and not parents too, though I will say my 8 year old liked the club some days and not others, and my 11 year old hated the club often just tagging along with us even through the 90’s trivia events and other time fillers rather than hang with his peers.  For his age group there was too much dancing and music, and activities that didn’t interest him.  They do have like Wii games and entertainment but it is usually crowded, and they complained about the quality of the monitors, equipment, games and other activities were a little limited.  I think if the retro-fit the kids club and added a little more modern type of activities it would be better, just setup a bunch of computers with Minecraft or something :)

All in all, it was a fantastic vacation and much needed after an extremely difficult 2014 that my family had.  My wife and I did come down with a cold on Thursday two days before we got back to CA, and we read in the news that another ship in the same port 1 day later over 100 passengers came down with stomach virus which we were thankful nothing like that happened on our ship and nobody got anything that I know of other than the common cold.  Viruses do spread easily in ships, so if you do cruise make sure you are using hand sanitizer OFTEN, coughing in your inner elbow, and wash hands very often.

Nothing like leaving the door open while sleeping and getting the ocean breeze in your cabin!

Apr 03

Gearbest has Affordable Drones for All

If you have been wanting to try your hand at flying RC Quadcopter drones then you can look no further than Gearbest which has a sizable amount of RC Quadcopters for really great prices, click here for more products.  I personally have always been wanting a drone with a camera because I live near the beach now and I wanted to take video of a drone soaring over the ocean waves and sands, as well as the cliffs near where I walk down to the beach.  I think a drone camera is really cool to have and can take some great scenery video.  Gearbest has a wide selection of drones, and while they have drones ranging from $15 to over $200, and there are plenty of drones with HD Cameras on them to choose from, this particular drone caught my eye.


This is the Cheerson CX-20 which has a 10 to 15 minute fly time, as well as GPS built in and some auto-navigation and return so the drone will automatically return to it’s source location.  It has some cool features like auto stabilize and return home if it loses signal from the controller as well.

The drone has a mounting place for a camera, but does not come with a camera.  Still this is a drone that is a cut above the rest.

If you want a drone with the HD Camera built in that can stream video live, you can also look at the Sky Hawkeye.

Upside down in this picture to show you the camera, the Sky Hawkeye HM1315 has a screen on top of the controller as well as an SD Card so you can watch in real time and record what the drone sees as it sees it.  Navigate by flight and see some impressive things from a point of view that only a drone can get to.  Seriously check ou tthe Sky Hawkeye Product Page and see some of the pics and video of this drone!

The JJ-600 also has a camera though not live video mode, and is a lower priced model, this one can charge via USB cable and is easy to fly as well.

The JJ-600 6 Axis Quad Copter is only $46.27 on Gearbest at the time of this writing which is a fantastic deal for a quadcopter that comes with a camera.

So if you are interested in an RC Quadcopter you can take a look at them on Gearbest in their RC Copter category and see which one you want to take for a test flight.  Take a look and tell us what drone you would buy or are doing to by and I would love to see some comments and pictures of your drones!

Mar 26

Use Movavi Screen Capture To Conveniently Record Online Screen Activities

The virtual zone comes up with several streaming videos and presentations every now and then. There are tutorials in the form of how-to videos, streaming music sessions, educational or business webinars and so on. Now, the online streaming video websites do not usually permit download features and hence it becomes a problem when you can’t catch the online streaming programs at their scheduled time. However, not to worry as today you have Movavi Screen Capture Studio that works to capture video from screen and the save them in a computer so that you can check them whenever you are free to. Below is a short review on Movavi Screen Capture Studio.

Most complete screen recorder

The Movavi Screen Capture Studio is the most complete computer screen recording software program across the contemporary tech market. The state of the art software is not only able to capture online streaming videos, how-to video tutorials but can also record your memorable Skype calls.

Adjustable recording parameters

The Movavi Screen Capture Studio allows customized screen recording facilities. With Movavi, users can easily record streaming videos according to his or her preferred recording area and frame rate.

Captures sound from any source

The Movavi program is able to record audio from any source- be it microphones or audio set or headphones or the musical instruments linked to your PC. It can record audio from output & input devices simultaneously.

Records on its own

This is one of the major reasons behind the high popularity of Movavi Screen Capture Studio today. You would be able to set your preferred recording duration with the help of the in-built software timer and the Movavi program would continue to record on its own- it would stop automatically when the timer stops.

Editing facilities

The Movavi software enables the users to edit the recorded videos in several ways. You would be able to crop, trim or split the video, add background music, special effects and so on. The Movavi program also allows the users to enhance the visual quality of the recorded video.

Compatibility with 180+ media formats

The Movavi Screen Capture Studio is compatible with more than 180 audio & video formats. It’s also compatible with all major mobile phone file formats.

Saves recordings in a flash

The Movavi Screen Capture Studio is designed with SuperSpeed mode that allows it to save recording in just a flash.

Mar 20

Decided to Give InMotion Hosting a Try

As it stands now InMotion Hosting contacted me and asked me to see if I wanted to test and compare their hosting plans with my existing hosting plans that I have been using for several years and they hit me up at a good time.  I was having some frustrating experiences with HostMonster support and so much email back and forth that I have been considering switching anyway.

Hence I am now in the process of some of my smaller blogs to InMotion Web Hosting and if all goes well, then I will transition and cut over all my smaller sites to InMotion Hosting.

Here are some of the things that I considered that were key points.

  • SSD Drives for all hosting accounts

All hosting plans including their $5.99 per month launch plan now include SSD drives which have lightning fast performance for disk based IO operations. In theory this means if you set your W3 Total Cache or caching plugins to cache to disk you should be seeing much better performance, logs write faster and there should be noticeable improvement in pageload speeds based on IO operations to disk. I am going to see if there is noticeable improvement after I cut my sites over.

  • Free Data Backups

No need to mess around with plugins and configure them, the plan will just setup backups on a scheduled basis for free.

  • Unlimited Disk Space and Unlimited Data Transfer

What this means is you don’t have to worry about filling up your assigned disk space or reaching a data transfer cap or having to pay more, even the budget plan has unlimited disk and data transfers.

  • CPanel

For those who are like me and prefer CPanel to access their services/applications, they have CPanel on all hosting accounts.

  • SSH Access

This is another good one, for those who want SSH access instead of being limited to only FTP access.

I figure I should have one of my smaller sites cutover by Friday night, with others to follow on the weekend.  I haven’t had a review and certainly haven’t tested their support yet, but so far I am liking what I see in InMotion hosting and willing to give them a try as once again I have been disappointed lately with HostMonster support.

Plans start at $5.99 per month to host 2 sites.



Mar 19

Purchased the 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons Set

Yep, so after playing a little more of the starter edition of Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition with the boys I decided to take the plunge and purchase the 3 core rulebooks for 5th Edition Dungeons and dragons.  These are probably the only books I will use for a while and I am liking some of the features of the new edition from the starter pack, most noteably though is how powered mages and clerics can be with level 1 spells doing up to 24+ damage on a single spell in a 1st level spell slot.  There is little chance a 3.5 edition 1st level character could match a 5th edition 1st level character based on some of the improvements to spell damage and effects in 5th edition.  Though warriors seem to be on par, again, don’t have full rule books yet so just basing on the small list of things I see in the starter pack.

The kids want to get more involved with drawing and making maps, towns and dungeons and we shall make this a whole family affair.  My oldest son is loving the Dwarven Cleric and my youngest is a human fighter both have their own play style, my youngest is more loyal and honest, truly lives up to the Lawful Good alignment while my oldest is quick to turn to profit in game and between the two of them constantly wanting to follow different paths I can see my DM challenges ahead of me with turn based approaches and trying to keep missions and storyline that appeals to both players at the same time or else it will end up being one person’s turn then another without an actually party traveling together.



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