New Apple Silicon M1 MacBook Pro

It’s been four months since I purchased an M1 MacBook Pro. This new Apple Silicon M1 is a replacement to my old 2012 11 inch MacBook Air, so this was the primary reason why I decided to fully spec the new laptop to 16GB RAM and 2TB hard drive as an attempt to make it my main computer for at least 8 years like my old MacBook Air. With the addition of 2 years Apple Care subscription and my work employee discount, the total price was over just over $2,600.00. It’s no cheap price tag but was it worth it? This is a hard question to answer. First we start with Pros and Cons regarding the machine. As far my setup is concerned, I opted to start from a clean slate. I only copied certain files, other than that I opted to install my applications as I went along with my usage. Obviously everything started with installing iTerm, and Visual Studio Code – Insiders. A very interesting thing I noticed is that most of the *.nix tools I use, do not have a native arm64 Apple Silicon binaries, while Linux does.

Pros: By far, the extra long battery life to me is the number one reason to buy an M1 Apple Silicon computer. It is absolutely amazing the battery life you get with a single fully charge cycle. I’ve literally gone a full week without charging it! Thanks to COVID, I haven’t had the chance to take my shining new laptop to a coffee shop and study there, but I definitely do look forward to not have to worry about my battery charge running out. I’m comparing Apples to Oranges (no pun intended) but the awesome battery life I get with an M1 machine reminds me of the really long battery life I get with my Amazon Kindle, where I literally do not have to worry about battery life. The other glaring benefit of using my new M1 MacBook Pro is the laptop cooling. I’ve yet gotten the fan to trigger, let alone notice any sort of heating change. Having to juggle between my work Intel MacBook Pro and personal Apple Silicon M1 MacBook Pro, I can say that I’m having to dread to use my work Intel laptop because of the fact that it gets extremely hot!

Cons: By far the lack of an open source Virtualization application is the biggest limitation of an M1 Apple Silicon computer. To a smaller scale, it also includes containers. So far, I’ve managed to get way out of this limitation by creating a simple Ubuntu VM on my network and VNC into it, whenever I need to use virt-manager to manage my Virtual Machines or to use certain containers that work within Docker’s X86/amd64 emu layer on Arm64. Of which Varnish is the only container that doesn’t seem to work on my M1. That’s really it, those are the only cons for me!

The 2020 13-inch Apple Silicon M1 MacBook Pro is by far the best computer that I’ve owned. To me, the chassis size is perfect (11-in MacBook Air replacement), the keyboard is awesome (a million times better than the garbage butterfly keyboard), and the touch pad is the best in the market. The stupid, and flat-out useless touchbar I can live without, so changing the keyboard layout config to use the actual function keys, make it slightly less annoying.

Book Review – Amadís of Gaul: Book I


I first heard of Amadís de Gaula while reading Don Quixote  as it was Amadís that Don Quixote modeled himself as too. So given this, I was naturally interested on reading the source material that caused Don Quixote to go mad. Aside from Don Quixote, this is my very first dive into the world of classic Chivalric Romance literature. This version is divided into four volumes, and written by Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo. Although it was published in the early 16th century, the actually origins of this fictionally story can be dated back as far as the mid 13th century. Even the author mentions what parts of the story date to the original myths and legends and what belong to those that he wrote and extended.

In this introductory volume, we read about the origins of young knight and prince named Amadís. Like all other heroes, Amadís upbringing is rather spectacular. In this fictional world, Amadís is destined to be the greatest knight in the world, so in it we get to read his adventures from his birth to his service within the different realms. While being quite unique, Amadís de Gaula is medieval Spain’s own interpretation of Arthurian legends. So in here we get to see different British kingdoms as well as other mythic characters like giants, wizards, sorcerous, and even dwarfs. As well as the typical setting of royal courts, knights and damsels.

I read the English translation by Sue Burke, and I think she did an excellent job translation the novel. Keeping the archaic Spanish elements to its English equivalent, all while still having the writing be easily comprehensible.Overall, if you don’t mind the traditional “damsel in distress” trope (which can get rather repetitive at times), and you want to learn why Don Quixote loves Amadís de Gaula, then this is a highly recommend read.

Free Online Resources to Learn more about The Reconquista

Due to my endless appetite of acquiring knowledge about the Reconquista, I happened to stumble across The Library of Iberian Resources Online (LIBRO) by the University of Central Arkansas. This awesome site gives us access to a decent collection of scholarly works about the Reconquista, completely free of charge. I think what makes this site invaluable, is the fact it give us access to out-of-print university press works, that otherwise we wouldn’t gotten a chance to read.

Some of the books, are provided via PDF, while others are completely online. If you happened to own a Kindle, I seemed to get a better formatting book experience by merging the PDFs into one, then convert to a Word doc, and finally use Calibre to covert the Word doc to a Mobi file. I’m currently about a 1/3 on the book The Crusader Kingdom of Valencia by Robert Ignatius Burns, and the book looks and reads like a normal book on my Kindle. (The book is fantastic thus far!)

It is refreshing to see English scholarly works regarding the Reconquista, since most of reading I’ve been doing lately has been completely in Spanish, which I don’t mind. But given how awesome the history of the Reconquista is, I feel that large segment of the English speaking world doesn’t know the intricate details about this important point in history. Mainly because of lack of access to works like the ones provided in this site. What seems to me interesting that of all places, Arkansas a state with little to no Hispanic culture or history. Yet they’re given the world access to learn more about the awesome history of medieval Spain.

https://libro.uca.edu/

RIP Kentaro Miura

Like the rest of the world, I was in complete shocked when I heard the tragic news of the passing of Kentaro Miura. My introduction on his amazing work of Berserk, was mere recently. I started buying the omnibus’ Berserk Deluxe Editions by Dark Horse Comics about two years ago. It wasn’t until I had the 6th Deluxe Volume Edition (manga Vol 16-18), where I actually started reading the manga, and to say the least, I absolutely love it! Berserk has been my introduction to the manga world, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. Kentaro Miura has managed to create such an incredible fictional universe, that I think it’s even superior to those popular in the west. A Song of Ice and Fire, I’m looking at you. 

I would put the world of Berserk next to The Witcher as my favorite fictional fantasy universes (behind Tolkien’s legendarium). Amazing character development and story arks, bundled with an extreme level of well crafted mature content. Berserk stands out from anything that I’ve read. I’ve even come to love the 90’s anime adaptation. I’ve literally been rewatching them every single day for the last month or so before going to sleep.

Berserk was still an on-going manga, so with Kentaro Miura death, it will be saddening to see if this amazing story doesn’t have the ending that he envisioned. Or if it even has an ending at all. 

 
Guts Berserker Armor by Sixth Scale Figure by Threezero

Guts

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ModuCase display for my Witcher statues

Since I decided to collect the entire Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Prime 1 Studio statue line (with the exception of the Toad Prince), I wanted a nice and elegant solution to display my statues. So I had two choices, either to build a custom display or to purchase some ModuCases. Both of which have their pros and cons.

Pros
Custom: No wait, Cheaper in price
ModuCase: Expandable since they’re stackable, Built-in lighting

Cons:
Custom: Handy work skills required
ModuCase: Price, one year wait (might be shorter now), Difficult to setup

I opted to purchase some ModuCases. Off the bat, the company has absolutely fantastic customer service, they answered all my questions almost immediately and they were very responsive within the entire purchase and received time frame. I can see why within the statue community, their customer service is highly praised. I bought a MAX140 and a MAX140Plus display cubes, in addition a riser and a top board. By the time I submit my initial order and received the products, it was almost exactly one year. I know the delayed was caused by COVID, but definitely waiting a year to receive the display cases left a sour taste in my mouth.

One of my biggest misinterpretations of opting for ModuCase was me thinking that it will require little to no work compared to just building a custom display. Man, was I wrong. While assembling the display, I quickly learned this was not going to be an easy process. Building a Max140 is a very difficult process (at least to me). It took me over 4 hours to build the MAX140! By time I wanted to build the MAX140Plus, I was in such a bad mood given the difficulty I was having building it, even got to a point where I accidentally dropped a rail on my Triss Merigold Prime 1 Studio Statue causing a minor chip (not even noticeable). These combinations of events caused me to simply say “fuck it! I’m tossing this shit out to the trash”. I literally threw away a $400 statue display that I waited for 1 year to receive.  

Thus said, I love the Moducase display that I was able to actually assemble. It is a really elegant way to showcase high-end statues. Though, I’m already dreading the time when it will come to disassemble the display.

Yennefer of Vengerberg – Prime 1 Studio Statue

Yennefer of Vengerberg

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Yennefer of Vengerberg

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled across an OfferUp post of someone selling a Yennefer of Vengerberg Prime 1 Studio statue for a very significant low price. I was very suspicious at first given that the post only had two images, and the images were not of a good quality. I sat on it for a couple of days, and finally decided to message the seller. He quickly responded saying that the statue was still available. 

I originally passed on purchasing this statue because I wasn’t a big fan on how Yennefer’s head sculpt looked like. So when I saw the Alternative Outfit statue announced, I immediately jumped on it and pre-ordered it, since the promotional images of Yennefer’s face were so much better than the previous statue. Given my impatience of with the Yennefer Alternative Outfit statue not arriving until the end of this year, with combination of seeing a significant discounted price statue, that it’s sold out and hard to find anywhere (even e-bay), and the fact that I could get my hands on one immediately. I pulled the triggered and decided to buy the statue listed on OfferUp.

Man, was that a correct decision! The statue exceeded my expectations, Yennefer’s head sculpt (and Ciri’s) looks much better in person than in the promotional pictures. The base of the statue is fantastic as it follows the theme of slayed monsters. As I mentioned, since the images on the OfferUp were not great, I wasn’t sure whether it was the regular or exclusive editions. So I picked up the statue, I was ecstatic to see that it was the exclusive edition. An interesting thing is that the statue itself is technically not an exclusive edition. The seller mentioned that he won it in a raffle made within Sideshow business partners, so my statue is technically a sample production piece. The statue itself is in immaculate condition (with the exception of a white collar string that I glued back), so I don’t really care if it’s just a production sample, nor do I think it hinders its value. 

Book Review – The Boy Knight: A Tale of the Crusades

The Boy Knight: A Tale of the Crusades by G. A. Henty is a coming of age story about a young English boy named Cuthbert who lived around the time of The Third Crusade. The story has great examples of friendship and chivalry. After all, it was originally aimed for children.

The story starts in England, with our hero performing heroic deeds, which later we see him joining the English armies that would go on crusade to the Holyland to recapture Jerusalem. In here, we see the calamities and successes the crusader armies had during The Third Crusade, and how our protagonist fits into these events. For a complete fictional story, the historic events that occurred during the Third Crusade are exceptionally well described in this book. Obviously, certain changes had to be made to fit the young Knight into the narrative of the story.

One interesting comparison between this story and the book The Boy Crusaders, is the rivalry between the English Saxon and Norman ethnic characters, while on the latter it was an English and French (non-Norman) rivalry.

Overall, this is a great story with many heart warmth examples of human dignity, regardless of religion.

Ciri of Cintra – Prime 1 Studio Statue

Ciri of Cintra

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Ciri of Cintra

It took almost exactly three years of waiting to finally receive my Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon Prime 1 Studio statue. Not only has this been the longest wait time that I’ve for a statue, but so far in The Witcher 3 Prime 1 Studio line, this has been the most disappointing one for me thus far. The statue it self is beautiful, but Ciri’s pose seems somewhat unnatural. She appears to be walking, while looking down. To me, she doesn’t really look like she’s in an attacking mode, which I would’ve prefer. While I do love the statue, it is certainly not my favorite.

Overall, I’m glad that I manage to pre-order and buy this statue from Sideshow. I freaked out because this statue kept on getting delayed, all while Prime 1 Studio marked it as “Sold Out” almost two years ago! I was fearing that Sideshow was going to cancel my pre-order and I had to resort to e-bay, which now the statue is going for twice as much as its original price. Lucky for me I was relieved to finally receive my statue. I’m also glad that I opted for the Exclusive edition since I wanted to pair up Ciri next to Geralt, and I think Ciri wearing the Witcher medallion makes pairing the statues more epic.

Book Review – Moros y Cristianos

Moros y cristianos: la gran aventura de la España medieval (Moors and Christians: The Great Adventure of Medieval Spain) is the second book of the three book volume series of The Spanish Reconquest. Sequel to La Gran aventura del reino de Asturias: Asi comenzó la reconquista (The Great Adventure of The Kingdom of Asturias: How the Reconquest Started), this book continues the events following the timeline where the previous book left off.

This book covers the next 212 years of the reconquest timeline, culminating in the epic Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa. In those next 212 of the reconquest, a lot of things happen. Thus this book is roughly three times longer than its predecessor! The book starts from the rise of the Caliphate of Cordoba, and it’s complete hegemony overall all the Christian kingdoms, to it’s rapid decline and disintegration. This leading to what is my favorite era of the reconquest, which is The Spain of the five kingdoms (Leon, Navarra, Castile, Aragon, and Portugal), and the Taifa states of Al-Andalus.

While indeed the reconquest was an arm conflict. One thing this book really emphasizes a lot is the important element of the conquest, which was the migration onto the south from the common folk that were not necessarily warriors from the Christian North, and how incredibly dynamic the process was; making it into an unstoppable force.

This book does have maps, and family tree charts of the different Christian royal houses, I still feel might’ve needed some sort of appendix indicating who is who. This book is massive, with a very extremely long list of characters (most of which have the same names), so having a clear glossary with dates, might help anyone new who wants to dive into the awesome history of medieval Spain without being overwhelmed. Thus said, even if you’re not interested about the history of Spain/Portugal or The Crusades, but are only interested about extending your knowledge of the middle-ages. Then I would highly suggest reading this book. The vast amount of content dealing with medieval politics is absolutely incredible. Think of A Song of Ice and Fire, multiplied by 100.

2021 New Year’s Resolutions

2020 was a complete shit year, yet this yearly traditional post must still continue. These are my 2021 New Year’s Resolutions in no particular order:

  • Lose the weight I gained in 2020 (seriously)
  • Watch less crap on YouTube
  • Learn Go
  • Learn Kubernetes more in depth
  • Acquire more Professional certifications
  • Not buy any video games
  • Write book reviews for all the books I read