Installing Ruby 2.X on Intel macOS Monterey (12.6)

In this guide, we’ll be using rvm & homebrew to install Ruby 2.X on our Intel Mac. The key is to specify the location of openssl.

First, make sure you have Xcode Command Line Tools installed on your mac. You can install it with

        xcode-select --install

Then install openssl (v1.1):

        brew install openssl@1.1

To install Ruby on my Mac, I’ve had to specify the openssl directory when compiling Ruby. Make sure to replace “2.7.8” with your target Ruby version.

        rvm install 2.7.8 --with-openssl-dir=`brew --prefix openssl@1.1`

You can set this version of Ruby as your default version with rvm:

        rvm use --default 2.7.8

That’s it! Installing older versions of Ruby isn’t too tough.

Updating web app from Rails 4 to Rails 7

A few months ago, certbot gave me the warning “Your system is not supported by certbot-auto anymore.”. With my Rails 4 app running on old Ubuntu 14.04, it was time to update the app & environment.

Since I’m using Digital Ocean’s droplets, it was easy to spin up a new droplet, setup the new droplet, and then destroy the old droplet. This is way better than operating in situ.

This blog post will provide a high level overview of update steps & pitfalls encountered.

  1. Spin up a Ruby on Rails (v7.0.4.2, OS Ubuntu 22.04) droplet This also involved setting up a SSH key to access the new droplet server.

  2. Exfiltrate the example Rails 7 app from the server to my local machine scp -r root@{SERVER_IP}:/home/rails/example .

  3. Create a new private GitHub repo for this example Rails 7 app

  4. Run the new example Rails 7 app locally This step should be super simple, but it was not. Getting RVM to run Ruby 3.2.0 with OpenSSL was not trivial on my Intel Mac. Here’s what I ran to setup Ruby 3.2.0 locally:

    sudo -i
    cd /usr/local/src
    curl -O
    tar xzf openssl-1.0.2t.tar.gz
    cd openssl-1.0.2t
    ./Configure darwin64-x86_64-cc
    make install

    rvm reinstall 3.2.0 --with-openssl-dir=/usr/local/ssl

  5. In the new Rails 7 app, I moved my psql DB migrations over by hand. I copied the files and had to update the ActiveRecord::Migration with ActiveRecord::Migration[7.0].

  6. Draw the rest of the owl. I had to port lots of Rails files over from my Rails 4 to the target Rails 7 app.

    I ran into an issue with a model validation callback. To fix my issue, I created a migration to add uniqueness validation at the postgres layer and removed the uniqueness check in my model.

    This also include various site fixes. Such as Open Street Map tiles, using 3rd party APIs, and Font Awesome icons.

  7. Setup deployment to the server using Capistrano.

    Setting up Capistrano with Puma on Digital Ocean was not trivial at all. I followed this guide by Matthew Hoelter

    In my config/deploy.rb file, I had to add this set :branch, :main

    In my root Capfile, I had to use install_plugin Capistrano::Puma::Systemd due to using Puma 5.6.5.

    After a ton of trial and error, I had setup my nginx config at /etc/nginx/sites-available/rails.

    There was a ton of issues with the .sock file from Puma not getting generated.

    Setting up the secret_key_base is a newer Rails convention. Luckily Matthew’s blog post goes into detail on how to set it up in /etc/environment

    Using systemctl, I got puma setup to run the command bundle exec puma -C /home/rails/apps/[APP_NAME]/shared/puma.rb.

    Also, due to running on Digital Ocean, I had to update permissions for the rails user. cd /home; chmod o=rx rails. See Stack Overflow for details Without running this, I was getting a 502 (Bad Gateway) error, even though everything else was setup. I can see traffic in my nginx.access.log, but I was still getting the 502 (before running this command).

  8. Move psql data over. This step is going to vary a lot on your setup. I was able to run pg_dump to export my data and import data using psql APP_NAME_production < latest_pg_dump.sql.

  9. Update A record. In order to point my domain to my new droplet, I went into Digital Ocean and updated the A record from my old IP to my new IP. This is going to vary depending who you’re using for domain names.

  10. Run certbot. Running certbot for SSL was super easy.

  11. Destroy old droplet. When you’ve verified everything is working with your new Rails 7 app, you can destroy the old droplet in Digital Ocean.

My app, GeoGraph, is now running on Rails 7 and lets anyone bookmark their location.

Disney California Adventure (CA) Trip Report – June 2023

Our family went to Disney CA on a weekday in early June. I read online there would be lots of graduating high school students, but I didn’t anecdotally feel like the park was filled with students.

We opted for 1 day of intensity instead of going to Disneyland over multiple days. Since we haven’t been to Disney CA in a while, I opted for the paid fast pass (Genie+ Lightning Lane). The Lightning Lane proved helpful since you can skip some long lines.

The Disneyland Genie+ Lightning Lane (G+LL) system is confusing. As of June 2023, there was 1 paid ride that was not part of the G+LL pass: Radiator Springs Racers (RSR). RSR has its own paid Individual Lightning Lane, which we did not buy. With the G+LL, you can book another Lightning Lane (LL) every 2 hours or after you scan in your LL pass at the ride entrance.

8am – Rope Drop

We went for the rope drop. However we hit some bad traffic on the highway driving down. So after parking in the Toy Story parking lot, we got to the rope drop area at 7:45a. We were stuck in the back of the rope drop crowd. Everyone was heading towards Radiator Springs Racers.

8:10a – Radiator Springs Racers

90 minute posted wait. Actual wait was ~80 minutes. We rope dropped this ride since I didn’t want to pay for the Individual Lightning Lane. I enjoyed the Cars Land area decorations, but I didn’t think RSR was a great ride. For whatever reason, the car we sat in didn’t even race another car. There was simply no car next to us, so we went through the ride just cruising around the track by ourselves. I honestly don’t see what all the hype is about.

9:40a – Web Slingers

45 minute posted, 45 minute actual wait. I think this was a decent ride. The ride broke down on us a couple times while on the ride. Overall, it was fun with young kids to shoot webs and go for high value targets.

10:40a – Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout (LL)

80 minute posted. 30 minute actual wait with LL reservations. The Lightning Lane queue wasn’t moving when we checked in. So even with a LL, it can take a while to get on the ride. This ride was one of the best rides of the day. I wanted to go on it again, but the line throughout the day was just long. And you can’t use LL twice on 1 ride in a day.

11:40a – Lunch

We went to Pacific Wharf Café and had clam chowder bowls. I had low expectations, but the bread (and the soup) was pretty good.

For the next LL ride, I wanted to give us enough space to walk around, eat lunch, and take a breather from rushing to 3 heavy hitting rides in the morning. I didn’t want to have to cut lunch short in order to make a LL reservation.

12:50p – Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! (LL)

35 minute posted. 9 minute wait with LL. So I booked this LL when the ride was showing up as down. It didn’t work as the ride came back up eventually. If the ride didn’t come back up in time for our LL, then we would have a pass to use at another similar tier ride. I think this ride was OK. It’s a ride for kids who really love Monster’s Inc.

1:20p – Animation Academy

This was a 2 for 1. There’s a bunch of attractions in the Animation Academy. Each has different waits. We took the Learn the Secrets of Drawing class and it was fun to draw Dumbo. However, we also waited for the Frozen meet and greet (Royal Welcome) and that wasn’t a great use of our time. No issues with the character we met, but the line was just way too long and not worth meeting a character for 30 seconds.

2:35p – Redwood Creek Challenge Trail

This was our resting period for the day. The kids ran around the play area and we were able to sit for a little bit.

3:20p – Grizzly River Run (Single Rider)

70 minute posted wait, actual wait 9 minutes. While other members were at the challenge trail, I rode the Grizzly River Run as a single rider. The ride was fun and the tube spun around a lot. While I was in the Single Rider line, I saw a party of 2 (parent and child?) try to use the Single Rider line to go on the ride together. The Disney CM called them out for it, but ultimately the 2 were able to go on the ride together.

4:10p – Incredicoaster (Single Rider – did not ride)

55 minute posted wait. Did not actually ride it at 4pm. So the Single Rider line for Incredicoaster was pretty long and not moving with any regularity. I think the 2+2 seating doesn’t lend itself well to single riding. I waited for 20 minutes and left since the line wasn’t moving.

4:30p – Jessie’s Critter Carousel

10 minute posted wait. 5 minute actual wait. This ride is pretty self explanatory. It’s a carousel for young kids. The short wait helps.

4:45p – Toy Story Midway Mania (LL)

40 minute posted wait. 15 actual wait with LL. This was a fun ride. Shooting targets for a high score was fun for the family.

5:15p – Emotional Whirlwind Inside Out

30 minute posted wait. 20 minute actual wait. This ride was OK. We recently watched Inside Out so I figured this would be a fun ride to go on. Note: Bing Bong’s Sweet Stuff nearby has some sweet (pun intended) treats!

5:45p – Pixar Pal-A-Round (Swinging)

30 minute posted wait on the physical entrance sign. The app said 60 minute wait. Actual wait was 25 minutes. This was a fun ride. I wasn’t sure if we were able to fit it in our schedule. The Swinging version is no joke. The Swinging was more than I expected, but it was fun. Also seeing various Pixar characters on the Ferris wheel pods was fun.

7p – Soarin’ Around the World (LL)

55 minute posted wait. 15 minute actual wait with LL. We enjoyed this ride. I’m not sure when the ride soars around the world VS California. We went on a world tour and it was really fun.

7:30p – Cozy Cone Motel

Dinner was fine. I wanted something fast casual. Using the Disney app to order in advance definitely saved a lot of time (vs waiting in line to order food). Also as already mentioned, I really like the Cars Land theming/decor.

8p – Goofy’s Sky School (LL)

50 minute posted wait. 10 minute actual wait. The LL really helped here. I don’t think this ride was a must ride, but it’s included in the LL so why not ride it? At this point, we had used the LL on almost all the LL eligible rides. This was a bumpy/rough and fun kids roller coaster.

8:15p – The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

10 minute posted wait. 5 minute actual wait. This ride wasn’t running earlier in the day. But it was up and running throughout the day. During the afternoon, the posted wait was long so I didn’t go on it. At night, there was practically no line. This was a fun ride for our kids since we also recently saw the classic animated The Little Mermaid movie.

8:30p/9p – World of Color ONE (WoC)

My family got in line at the designated seating area for WoC around 8:30p. I left for the Incredicoaster and came back by 9pm to watch the show. I would say the show is OK. Some people really enjoyed it, but I wasn’t personally invested in light projection on water meant to invoke classic Disney/Marvel/etc memories.

8:40p – Incredicoaster (LL)

45 minute posted wait. No wait while using LL. As I walked to the Incredicoaster ride, I could see the Single Rider line still really long. With the LL reservation, I walked all the way onto the ride. This ride was amazing. Definitely one of my top rides in California Adventure.

9:30p to Close

We walked around the shops to get some last minute souvenirs. Honestly, I prefer the Main Street shops in Disneyland more. I think CA park is great if you want very specific stuff (Avengers, Spider-Man, Pixar, etc gear), but otherwise I felt the selection in Disneyland main street was much greater.


At rides, the posted wait time changes constantly and really doesn’t tell you exactly how long the wait is.

Walking around Disney CA is a challenge. I usually had to take the long way and walk through a ton of the park to get where I wanted to go. The layout of Disney CA doesn’t lend itself well to doing stuff nearby when I’m trying to also use Lightning Lane for rides that are often on the other side of the park.

On our weekday, there were some rides down in the morning and throughout the day. I think most or all of them were back and running later in the day. I think Zephyr kept going down but was up every now and then. The good news is that just because I saw a ride being unavailable at rope drop, it didn’t mean the ride was down for the whole day.

I think 1 day is enough to see Disney California Adventure with the G+LL constantly used. Compared to Disneyland, I think Disneyland is the top tier park and Disney California Adventure is the second choice. So depending on how many days you want to spend at Disney: if you only have 1 day, go to Disneyland. If you have 2 or more days, you can do 1 day Disneyland, 1 day California Adventure, etc. I personally don’t buy the park hopper, but park hopper seems like a popular add-on.

P.S. – I can’t help but feel like posting content to the internet is just feeding LLMs (ChatGPT, etc.).

Installing Windows 11 on a new PC built from scratch

I recently built a PC from parts I got at my local MicroCenter and online. Building the PC was tough, but there were no surprises.

Installing Windows 11 Pro was really, really difficult. I’m shocked since installing software (especially a prominent offering of Microsoft) is supposed to be trivial and work everywhere.

With my PC parts put together, I was able to see the BIOS screen on my monitor. I made sure CSM (Compatibility Support Module) was off and UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) was enabled.

I restarted my computer and plugged in my Windows 11 installation USB drive. (Sidenote: I recommend creating the installation USB from Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool on a Windows PC. I tried to create a USB install stick from macOS and it did not work.)

Going through the menu options, I was getting cryptic errors: “Windows could not prepare the computer to boot into the next phase of installation. To install windows, restart the installation“. The error message was unhelpful so I spent time googling for answers and restarting my computer countless times.

From what I can tell, my copy of Windows 11 Pro cannot install from a USB drive. This is surprising since using a USB drive is the de facto installation method in 2023. Almost nobody has a CD/DVD drive to install Windows like we used to 10 years ago.

I had to use command line tools in the Windows installation process to create a local SSD partition, copy Windows 11 from my USB to the new partition, and install Windows from the SSD. This was extremely not user friendly and took me well over 3 hours of trial and error to eventually come up with a solution to install Windows. What gives Microsoft? Is installing Windows from a USB drive seamlessly not a priority?

Here are the commands I ran to install Windows 11. My notes (after the # below) are my best guesses as to what is happening. Note: this will format/wipe/erase your drive. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.

You can get to the command line interface from the disk selection screen. Press Shift + F10 to open and enter.

# enter diskpart tool

# view your disks
list disk 

# selects the 1st disk (make sure you select your primary SSD)
select disk 0 

# wipe the selected disk

# set the selected disk to GPT format. this is important!
convert gpt 

create partition primary size=52000 
# the size (52000) varies. Just make sure it fits Windows 11 and is within the size of your SSD

# format the selected disk to NTFS
format fs=ntfs 

# assign a drive letter to the selected disk

# view your list of volumes
list volume 
# make a note of the letters for your new SSD partition & USB stick

# exit diskpart

# change to your flash drive. Use the correct letter (may or may not be E:)
cd E:

# copy from USB to your new SSD partition
# Use the correct letters (e: & c:) below
xcopy e: c:/s /e /h /c


After following the steps above, you have now created a partition on your SSD with a copy of the install USB contents. It is important to EXIT the Windows installer. Do NOT continue with the Windows menus.

Restart your computer. When your computer is off (during the restart), make sure to remove the USB stick. You want your computer to boot from your new partition and not the USB stick.

If everything goes well, you should be able to install Windows 11 successfully.

During the Windows setup, I had to run a command (OOBE\BYPASSNRO) to install Windows without connecting to the internet. This was a chicken and egg problem since I didn’t have any WiFi firmware setup on my computer, so I couldn’t easily get any firmware updates. Also Windows wasn’t even setup yet, so I couldn’t use Windows to install the WiFi firmware either.

As a final step, I wanted to remove the disk partition created during the Windows install process (above). It’s all been a blur given how hard it was to install Windows 11 in the first place. Thankfully, after Windows 11 was already installed on my computer, I was able to re-run the Windows 11 setup process, remove the partition, and install Windows without an issue.

How I cleaned up 3M spam comments in a WordPress blog

Tl;dr: delete them.

Last week, I received an alert, my blog’s database was too large (> 3GB) and had to be upgraded to a premium plan. Paying a new monthly fee for something I don’t need made no sense, so I looked into the database.

Most of the space was used by two WP tables: wp_comments & wp_commentmeta. Their sizes being roughly 2.2 GB & 1.8 GB respectively.

Upon logging into the WP admin panel, I could see a long neglected blog. There were 3.1M comments, and somehow 2.7M were approved.

3M comments (the vast majority are assumed to be spam)

My first approach was to use akismet (Automattic’s spam filtering service) to process the comments. I went into my MySQL database and marked the comments from late 2019 (arbitrary cutoff date) from approved (comment_approved=1) to pending (comment_approved=0).

WordPress’s comments section has a handy button to Check For Spam with Akismet. I tried this, but it was taking too long. I honestly think it would take a month to check my ~3M comments. Since the browser would time out, this process had to be manually monitored (not practical).

While your comments section may have lots of legitimate comments, my understanding of my comments is that they are 99.999% spam for the past few years. This is because my blog has been largely ignored and is no longer current. In fact, searching for my blog doesn’t even show up on Google. The lack of HTTPS (now fixed) and endless spam comments probably pushed the SEO so low that *only* spammers know about the site to post comments.

With the assumption of nearly 3M comments as spam, here’s how I cleaned it up:

  1. As mentioned above, I moved all the comments from late 2019 to pending (comment_approved=0). I tried using phpMyAdmin but had to eventually use a GUI (TablePlus on Mac) to run SQL.
    UPDATE wp_comments set comment_approved = '0' WHERE comment_date > '2019-10-01' AND comment_approved = '1';
  2. Delete all my pending comments:
    DELETE FROM wp_comments WHERE comment_approved = '0';
  3. Clean up my meta comments table (wp_commentmeta):
    DELETE FROM wp_commentmeta WHERE comment_id NOT IN ( SELECT comment_id FROM wp_comments );
  4. Clean up table overhead. Overhead was making my tables still take up GBs of space even though the vast majority of comments were deleted.
    OPTIMIZE TABLE wp_comments;
    OPTIMIZE TABLE wp_commentmeta;

Using a desktop GUI to run MySQL was fast and efficient. Before and after I executed my SQL clean up commands, I checked the row counts so I could have some confidence in the executed commands.

I still have ~10K comments left on my site. Some are legitimate, some are spam. I’m letting Akismet take a pass through these 10K comments, and then I’ll clean up the rest manually.

Setting up your Mac to create a Playdate app

This guide is written on macOS Monterey (v12.3).

playdate simulator

Here are instructions on setting up & running the most barebones app possible on macOS. There are probably better ways to do this, but here’s one way that works for me.

  1. Download & install the SDK via

  2. Update your ~/.zshrc file with the following line:

    export PLAYDATE_SDK_PATH=/Users/rex/Developer/PlaydateSDK

    Obviously you want to replace “rex” with your username.

  3. Create a new folder for your project (anywhere)
    mkdir playdate_hello_world
    cd playdate_hello_world

  4. Create a VS Code folder & settings file
    mkdir .vscode
    touch .vscode/settings.json

  5. Put the following into your new settings.json file. Make sure to replace the 2 instances of “rex” with your username

    "Lua.runtime.version": "Lua 5.4",
    "Lua.diagnostics.disable": [
    "Lua.diagnostics.globals": [
    "Lua.runtime.nonstandardSymbol": [
    "Lua.workspace.library": [
    "Lua.workspace.preloadFileSize": 1000,
    "playdate.sdkPath": "/Users/rex/Developer/PlaydateSDK"

    (Apologies for the formatting. WordPress & code doesn’t mix well). You can copy & paste above (and make sure to replace the 2 “rex”s)

  6. Create a simple file for your app
    mkdir source
    touch source/main.lua

    Copy the following into main.lua:

    import "CoreLibs/object"
    import "CoreLibs/graphics"
    import "CoreLibs/sprites"
    import "CoreLibs/timer"

    function playdate.update()
    print "Hello world"

    Obviously this code does not do very much. It’s super, super basic, but it compiles & runs!

  7. Install the following VS Code extensions (sumneko.lua, jep-a.lua-plus, and Orta.playdate)

  8. Run your app on the Playdate Simulator with VS Code.

    Press Cmd + Shift + P and select & run [Run app in Playdate simulator]

  9. That’s it! Your app is now running on the Playdate sim. You can view print statements by using Window > Console.

For more comprehensive details, refer to the SDK documentation:

For the sample files discussed here, see repo:

Legoland 2022 1-Day Trip Review

We went for a day in March during spring break. With young kids, we had some height restrictions, but most rides were available since Legoland is for young kids. The park was busier than I expected, but overall it was much better (less crowded) than summer time.

Legoland sells VIP access to skip lines, but I wasn’t interested. Plus, we’ve already been to Legoland a handful of times so I didn’t see the need to pay extra.

I downloaded the official Legoland app, which was extremely helpful in looking at estimated ride wait times. Too bad their app doesn’t let you order food like Disneyland’s app does.

While picking rides in the park, I focused on rides with shorter wait times & rides that were nearby. If there was a ride nearby with a short line, I definitely took my kids to check it out.

Attractions List with comments

Junior Driving School / Driving School

  • This is fun for kids to drive around

Sky Patrol

  • basic helicopter ride. what you see is what you get. fun

Fun Town Police and Fire Academy

  • this was a competitive ride (competing against other groups). pumping (to move the truck) was harder than expected

Skipper School

  • this boat ride was fun, but the line was really long. the wait wasn’t worth it

Legoland Express

  • simple train ride for toddlers. it’s fun, and no wait is awesome

DUPLO Playtown

  • this was ok. kids can play in the playground. the Duplos were scarce (COVID safety precaution?)

Queen Watevra’s Carousel

  • it’s a basic carousel ride. you either like it or you don’t

LEGO Movie 2 Experience

  • this simple walkthrough is cool for Lego set piece nerds, but it might not be interesting for everyone

Coast Cruise

  • simple, boat tour. I feel bad for the tour guides since they have to repeat the same pun jokes over and over

The Royal Joust

  • this thing always has a long line? it works well for the kids to wait in line while I get food nearby…

Knights’ Smokehouse BBQ

  • the lunch options are decent. typical, pricey theme park food, but the BBQ itself is not bad. if you get here during lunch hours, be prepared to wait in a long line

Cargo Ace

  • simple, kid friendly plane ride

Bionicle Blaster

  • these saucers spin around fast. shorter/younger children can’t ride it

Ninjago the Ride

  • our family isn’t super into Ninjago. the ride was OK, but I think my sensor hand placement was off since it wasn’t working well

Eglor’s Build-a-Boat

  • it’s legoland, so there’s different lego stations for kids. this one was a decent distraction. the Legos didn’t seem to be that clean considering the amount of water they are exposed to

Fairy Tale Brook

  • this ride is awesome. the decor is standard fare. I always enjoy this simple boat ride with almost no wait

LEGO Factory Tour

  • we walked through some Lego factory machines and the kids were able to build with Legos. this was more of a time sink

LEGO City Deep Sea Adventure

  • this sub ride was ok. there was no line, and I’m not a huge fan of the treasure hunt activity (spot things in the water)

The Hideaways

  • this play ground at the top of the theme park was fun for the kids to run around. I have to assume due to COVID, all the tube slides were closed (sealed at top & bottom). No slides makes getting around the vertical playground a bit odd

The Big Shop

  • always packed at the end of the day. The shop is OK. I think most stuff you can find online at a similar or better price. I didn’t find any notable exclusive Legos this day. If you show them your VIP, you get a small discount

Legoland is fun for young kids, but it’s easy to run out of things to do after your 1st day. Costco has a 2 day ticket promo (with 2nd visit in 14 days of 1st visit), but that’s more Legoland than we need.

Disneyland 2021 1-Day Trip Review

We went for 1 day in August with young kids, meaning we couldn’t go on all the rides (height restriction). When we went, there was no park-wide fast pass system, so I didn’t have to worry about optimizing the next fast pass.

Before going, I downloaded the official Disneyland app (with my account & tickets set up). This is important since it lets you join boarding groups (Rise of the Resistance) at 7 am (outside the park) or 12 noon (in the park). If you are trying to join a boarding group, make sure you try exactly when it turns 7a (or 12). The official app also makes ordering food easy.

Some helpful tips: 1.) Go early. Try to get there when the park opens (like 8am) or even before they open (line up for rope drop). This will let you go a number of rides early in the day when lines are shorter. 2.) With tip #1, go on rides with longer lines first. Here’s a site showing sample wait times.

Ride List with comments

  • Jungle Cruise
    • alright. The guide was good, but the scripted dad jokes were soso
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
    • decent. This is classic Disneyland
  • Haunted Mansion
    • decent. This is classic Disneyland
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
    • fun for young kids
  • Mad Tea Party
    • decent. your typical spinning kid ride
  • King Arthur Carousel
    • decent. your typical carousel ride
  • Star Wars: Rise Of The Resistance
    • decent. It wasn’t the best thing ever. I enjoyed the impressive set pieces. This ride broke down twice on us (used Rider Switch) and ate up much of our afternoon.
  • It’s a Small World
    • good. This is classic Disneyland
  • Autopia
    • good, but they need to make the cars electric. The gas fumes are awful
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
    • good, but it’s hard to tell where you are aiming
  • Mickey’s Mix Magic (9pm)
    • decent. Instead of a parade, they projected a show onto the castle and lit up a ton of fireworks

Food List with comments

  • Mickey-shaped Beignets @ [Mint Julep Bar, New Orleans Square]
    • mediocre. we were hungry in the morning, but these did not knock my socks off
  • New Orleans Mint Julep @ [Mint Julep Bar, New Orleans Square]
    • tasty, non-alcoholic drink
  • hand-dipped corn dogs @ [Stage Door Café, Frontierland]
    • tasty, but I was feeling fried food overdose
  • chicken tenders kids meal @ [Stage Door Café, Frontierland]
    • alright. your typical generic theme park kids meal. including a mandarin orange was good
  • Dole Whip Soft Serve @ [Tiki Juice Bar, Adventureland]
    • good, but I prefer the float! Don’t @ me
  • Dole Whip Float @ [Tiki Juice Bar, Adventureland]
    • amazing. Dole whip floats are always great, even more so on a hot day
  • frozen cherry lemonade @ [Fantasyland cart]
    • not good. the cherry flavoring didn’t remind me of cherry
  • blue milk @ [Milk Stand, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge]
    • good. this may have been an acquired taste. The tropical flavor was delicious
  • green milk @ [Milk Stand, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge]
    • average. I tried the citrus flavor, but it didn’t remind me of citrus and didn’t hit the spot

Disneyland was a fun-filled day for our family. Since we don’t go often, I try to do as much as possible. This is tough with kids, but we had strollers and took a break in the middle of the day to let the kids rest.

Having secured the Rise of the Resistance boarding group at noon, I think we accomplished more than enough. If we had more time in the afternoon, there were plenty of rides in Fantasyland to try or Mickey’s Toontown to visit.

Video game inventory

A game’s choice of inventory system can make gameplay worry-free or stressful. In the worst cases, managing your items can feel like work or make you not want to play at all.

Inventory comes in many forms. I’m specifically referring to the player’s management of limited inventory space. This space may include crafting materials, usage items, and collectibles. Sometimes, the item management & finding upgrades becomes the game, in the cases of the Diablo or Borderlands series.

Here is an inventory (get it? sorry) of my recently completed games and their handling of inventory. As you can tell, these are all single player games. No plot spoilers. Below are inventory mechanics ratings, not overall gameplay ratings.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – awful

The game has inventory for different weapon types. While you don’t need to max out your inventory size, it helps so you can collect different weapons. My issue with this game is the laughable item durability. Items break often with some usage. This was an intentional gameplay mechanic, but it made me conscious enough that I would strongly consider avoiding battles just to keep my inventory pristine. Given the choice, I would prefer a game with weapons that did not disappear completely, an affordable repair cost for broken weapons, and a more limited inventory size.

Horizon Zero Dawn – below average

In the resources section, your character holds trading parts, crafting material, and other items. By fighting enemies, you’ll usually pick up parts and materials. At the end of the game, I had a few of each part and a good amount of crafting materials. Crafting materials are important to have since you craft ammo to fight with. With my inventory maxed out at the end of the base story and at the start of the expansion (The Frozen Wilds), figuring out which parts to sell is such an ordeal that it’s killed my interest in exploring the expansion. Each new fight, I get more items that remind me my inventory is at capacity. This game would really benefit from a storage chest in town to offload parts that I don’t need constantly.

Control – acceptable

This game has weapon mods, personal mods, and confusingly named materials to find. While it is easy to fill up your inventory, the ease of cleaning up my inventory made the system a non-issue. Also, the game’s sorting options for mods (rarity, type, etc) made clean up easier.

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales – good or N/A

This game doesn’t really have inventory. Miles has ammo counts for his gadgets, but those are easy to replenish. This game is all about swinging around Manhattan and fighting lots of well-armed enemies (somehow everywhere in the city).

The Last of Us Part II – good or N/A

This game doesn’t have a complicated inventory system. You can find crafting materials or collectibles. If you max out your crafting materials space, you can’t pick up anymore until you use it up. Fair enough.

Wrapping it up, I wish more developers would consider adding Quality of Life improvements after you complete the game. This could come in the form of a massively expanded inventory (if the game’s inventory size was typically limited).

In The Last of Us Part II, New Game+ lets you purchase and use gameplay modifiers (such as cheats), which made replaying the game notably different. Fighting tough monsters without worrying about ammo? Sign me up!

Yosemite Day Use Ticketed Entry

Due to COVID-19, Yosemite National Park restricted entry by requiring a Day Use Entry reservation online. This 7 day pass required you to check-in on the 1st day. Since the day use reservation is no longer applicable (as of Nov 1st), I’m posting my experiences with the system.

I started looking into day use passes in mid October since I wanted to visit around 10/25. A large block of day passes were made available weeks ago, but it was too late for me. The remaining day passes are made available daily, 2 days in advance at 7AM. So checking at 10/23 7AM would let you get a 10/25 ticket.

As part of understanding the reservation system more, I tried to snag tickets for Saturday, 10/24, on 10/22 at 7AM. I was unable to get tickets since they sold out right away. I was stuck on a loading screen for a couple minutes, and sure enough, when I refreshed, the tickets were all gone. So I would have to wake up at 7AM the next day and try again (for a 10/25 pass).

When you make a reservation, you are able to cancel it on the site. I don’t fully understand the cancellation terms, but it did mean that refreshing the ticket site between 11PM and midnight (PT) seemed to have higher chances of getting a ticket due to some people cancelling their reservation at the end of the day.

Otherwise, randomly refreshing the ticket site throughout the day was an option if you are extremely desperate and have lots of free time.

The good news is that if you are able to see an available ticket on the site (and click fast!), checking out on the site was handled well. You had a 15 minute timer to purchase your ticket. The site would not prevent you from buying a ticket on different days, but you cannot have more than 1 ticket per day. Since each ticket is good for 7 days of entry, most people don’t need more than 1 ticket. Also, the ticket is tied to your name, so there is no resell or transfer.

Once you have a ticket, you must arrive on the 1st day to activate your ticket. At the entrance booth, the park person checks your day pass, your ID, and enters in the system that you showed up. You will be issued a piece of paper to stick on your window that has your license plate digits & park entry expiration date written on it. A park entry fee is also required, which is separate from the Day Use Entry this post is about.

I was worried about showing up after the entry day. The good news is on Reddit, someone claimed:

The official word is you have to be there on entry day. As far as I can tell that policy isn’t being enforced at all. I’ve entered a bunch of times on a day or two after the first day and was still let in, no questions asked.

If you want to be certain you are entered into the system on your 1st day, you need to show up during regular hours (not late afternoon or evening). When I was leaving, I saw someone arrive at the park at 5:40pm and the entry booth was unmanned. They had to get a piece of paper to self certify their arrival & entry pass # to stick on their car.

So while it took time to understand the Day Use Entry system, the system worked well. Yosemite is a beautiful national park well worth the trip.