Fantom Drives 2TB Hard Drive Upgrade Kit for Sony PlayStation 4, PS4 Slim, and PS4 Pro

Note: I rated this 4/5 stars.

Link to product.

With 1TB PS4 slims being, at the absolute best black Friday price, $180, and more commonly north of $200, purchasing a new system to expand the memory of an original PS4 is an expensive proposition. So I placed this upgrade kit on my amazon wish list for Christmas, and lo and behold, a family member purchased it. Here is what you get for ~100, with a rough price breakdown of each item:

1. 2TB hard drive (this is a laptop sized hard disc, mechanical, not solid state) – $75.
2. Flash drive (the listing says 8 gigs, but the one included in mine was a 16 gig- probably due to the continued drops in prices for these) – $6-15.
3. Enclosure for the old PS4 hard drive – ~10.
4. A screwdriver …. a quarter?

It also includes fairly clear instructions, which I’ll comment on in a bit.

Obviously, this gets to about 95 dollars worth of stuff, so you aren’t getting a special deal or anything. These components can be acquired separately, and in fact you may have a flash drive you can use already. I would think a price of about $90 would be more appropriate, and would encourage the company, FantomDrives, to explore ways to knock down the price about ten dollars.

Still, I recognize that the purpose of a kit like this is convenience. While not a hard project, upgrading a PS4 hard drive would require a bit of internet research, and having everything included for you, pre-checked for compatibility, is nice.

So how is the experience of using the kit, and most importantly, how are the included instructions?

For the most part, pretty positive. Some of the earlier reviews on amazon from 2016 discuss unclear directions, but I didn’t find that to be the case, with one exception: the final step of reusing the old PS4 hard drive. It does not mention how you need to delete the old partitions using windows disc manager. Of course, the primary point of this kit for most is to expand the memory, with using the old HDD a mere bonus, but they should improve the directions for this step.

The other aspect I’d improve is the included screw driver. While it is very cool that they include it, thus fulfilling the promise of giving you virtually everything you need for the operation, the screw driver has a tiny handle and doesn’t produce enough torque to take out the main screw on the PS4 drive bay. You’ll want your own, quite frankly, and since the screws in question are small but standard phillips head sizes, you probably do have one.

Other than that, I was done with this in less than an hour. So far, it is working perfectly fine. One thing I’m just a bit worried about is hard drive failures down the road, which some of the 1-star reviews report. Thus far, I can only find positive reviews that talk about using the PS4 for “several months,” so I can’t say for sure right now what my experience will be. If I have problems after less than a year, I’ll report back.

Overall, however, I’d recommend this kit. I have the technical know-how (not much is needed, really) to have done this without special help, but the convenience of everything being in one place made a “kick the can down the road” upgrade into a “do it now” job. Provided that everything still works in a year, I’m happy!


The Room, The Disaster Artist, and the True Villains

At 37 years old, I’m the perfect age for The Room fandom. When I was in my mid-twenties, I was often up late, Adult Swim on the small CRT television inside my tiny bedroom in a townhome I shared with two other friends. It was around this time that I began to hear about this amazing indie film called The Room, the “Citizen Kane of Bad Movies.”

Fast forward a few years later. I’m married, and my wife and I find The Room on Adult Swim and put it on the DVR. We watched it later, and were astounded. It’s also probably the only time we’ve watched the full, actual film, since Adult Swim was kind enough to heavily censor the sex scenes (we fast forward through these now; there is plenty to enjoy in The Room without any of that… stuff). But the rest of it is gold: the non-sequiturs, bizarre plot twists, weird characters, and most of all, Tommy Wiseau (if you live under a rock: the producer/director/financier/lead actor of The Room).

Tommy had an off-kilter presence in that movie that made him the instant focus of every scene. It was magnetic in its badness, but the thing is, the “so bad its good” thing does wear off after repeated viewings. But what remains isn’t a bad movie. It isn’t a good one either. It’s an alien movie, something so idiosyncratic, it doesn’t feel like humans made it. Musically, it is something like a twelve tone row piece or maybe the best free jazz: it resembles something you recognize, but it isn’t quite that thing, and you just look, transfixed, trying to figure it out.

And so The Room remained, etched in my consciousness as this weird thing I didn’t quite understand but heartily enjoyed. Then Greg Sestero (Tommy’s best friend and The Room’s other principal actor) wrote a book called The Disaster Artist, and contextualized the life of Wiseau. Far from slavish flattery, the book is quite honest about some genuinely rude behavior from Tommy, but it also makes you root for and even understand him.

Simply put, Tommy is a doer, a creator, a maker. His inner drive to subcreate (as Tolkien put it) is so powerful that it cannot be denied, which I believe is an impulse alive in all of us (most of us suppress it, to the point where it is forgotten). He is also a friend, loyal if bizarre, and a person who seems to love America and all it represents. In other words, the guy is completely likeable. Loveable, even. Put in context, who wants to deny Tommy Wiseau his dream?

Further contextualizing this man is James Franco’s The Disaster Artist movie, based on the book. Condensing the book down to a simpler narrative, it shows how Tommy Wiseau doesn’t want to conform to the world’s expectations for himself; instead, he wants to force the world to accept him for who he wants to be. Again, who can’t relate to that?

The best scene in The Disaster Artist takes place in an acting class about midway through the film. After the teacher tries to convince Tommy that he might find success as a movie villain, he scoffs, declares himself an American hero, and the class laughs.

His response hit me like a ton of bricks (James Franco’s acting as Wiseau is off the charts; go see this movie!). It was, “you’re the villain.”

That’s right, friends. The world is the villain. The world is the one telling you  that you can’t do that thing you want. It is the world that says everything is arrayed against you, the game is rigged and there is nothing you can do about it. Here, take this shortcut, take that easy path. Accept the conventional (but flawed) wisdom. Take the safe road.

I see the world acting as a villain all the time, in many different ways. I see the world make people blessed with everything they could want and need in life think they have nothing. I’ve seen it force people into mediocrity. I’ve seen it convince people to make bad choices. At every turn, people will be wanting you to accept their view of you. It’s up to you to resist that.

Of course, this isn’t to say everyone should dump their life savings on a crazy movie idea, or otherwise be impractical. Everyone has the responsibility of figuring out what is going to work for them, vis-a-vie their particular situation. But in everyone’s life, I believe, there is something to be said for going against the grain, and accepting the results.

And maybe that is the most inspiring aspect of The Room’s success: Tommy Wiseau’s willingness to quickly pivot into accepting people’s heartfelt reaction to the film. People respond in part because it is funny, but also because it is original. Nobody but Tommy could make this movie. It is unique, like humanity itself: not the product of a thousand chimps on a typewriter, but the effort of a person. And that is what Tommy is: a person. A person who made something. Don’t we all want to be, at minimum, simply that?

Sony MDRZX110NC Noise Cancelling Headphones

“Ugh, yet another thing. Why do you need these,” said Mrs. Roho, when I bought these headphones before a trip in 2016.

Why indeed. I certainly had no shortage of headphones, from super cheap airbuds to more expensive, accurate monitoring headphones for professional use. Why these?

Noise cancelling for cheap, that’s why.

If you’ve been on an airplane, you know they are loud. Super loud. Often in-flight entertainment gets drowned out, even with headphones given out by the airline (you’d think they wouldn’t hand out something that wouldn’t work, but alas, they do).

Continue reading “Sony MDRZX110NC Noise Cancelling Headphones”

Yamamoto European Blend Drip Coffee

So my employer has good coffee at work. But as a coffee snob, I get bored easily, so I enjoy bringing in Japanese “pour over” coffee packets. With these, you place a pre-packaged filter in a cardboard holder over top of the coffee cup, pour hot water over it, and presto, coffee.

My favorite brand is Ogawa coffee, which is based in Kyoto, but the only seller of it I have found is on Amazon and it takes a million years to get here. So while I’m waiting for that, I found an acceptable substitute at one of the local Japanese markets.

It’s called “European Blend” drip coffee, by Yamamoto. My one big problem with Japanese drip coffee packets is they don’t pack enough punch! The big offender here is the ubiquitous Key Coffee brand. Alas, this is the easiest to find in the United States.

The European Blend Yamamoto brand doesn’t quite have the bitter punch of Ogawa’s Kyoto-roasted beans, but it is stronger than Key Coffee, so it’ll do.

Alas, I could not find an American distributor of this, but you can find the coffee ground version of it at Amazon, here.

Of course, if you want to purchase the actual drip packets on, go here.

Trtl Pillow Review


Yeah, this is gonna be a short review:

It didn’t work. Not even close. I’m 6’1″, and I could never get this in a comfortable position. It just can’t hold the weight of my head, and in fact feels worse than the usual U-shaped pillows you can get anywhere.

I would suggest finding one in person and trying it. You can’t get this sight-unseen.

Saeco X-Small Espresso Machine

As posted on, which is where I bought it.

This machine filled my needs and desires as a coffee lover perfectly: a machine that creates a perfect shot of espresso, while using actual beans that you provide; ground fresh with each shot you make. At this, the X-Small delivers.

However, you should understand about this machine:
1. It will not make a pot of coffee. Single shot, double shot, and a full single cup are the options you get here. If you need to make coffee for many people (regular drip coffee), you’ll need something else to address that.
2. There is a very small learning curve to using the machine. Mostly, this involves the water supply; sometimes the machine will give you a red light error; in my experience, this is mostly because the water supply hasn’t gone into the control circuit (see the manual): all you have to do is turn the knob to the steam setting. Sometimes after doing this, the red light persists, and I’ve had to turn the machine on and off again.
3. This machine is not meant to hold huge amounts of water and beans, so it really isn’t something you are expected to “set and forget.” You’ll need to refill the water depot every 4 shots or so (less if you pull double and full cup shots). You’ll need to empty the used coffee grounds bin every 5-7 shots. It holds more beans than it looks, only requiring more beans every few days if you use the machine 4-5 times per day.
4. The milk frother wand might seem intimidating to use at first, but it’s incredibly easy. You’ll love it. Submerge that wand in the milk and let it rip.
5. This is not, like many fancy coffee machines on the market, a “jack of all trades” type machine that is meant to do lots of stuff. This is actually why I’m rating this five stars. It was built to make espresso from fresh beans that are ground “to order,” and it does an awesome job at that. It gives you *just enough* options: you can adjust the grind setting, you can make a double shot (which can also be used to make two servings at once as you see in the picture), and you can make a “full cup” of coffee, which will fill about one half or so of a standard coffee cup (this tastes different than drip coffee, but I like the flavor; it’s a somewhat watered down espresso shot basically. I’m surprised how often I use that feature). You can also dispense just hot water for tea, etc.

My only legit gripes:
1. The machine outputs some waste water with every use, and pumps a bit of hot clear water every time the machine is turned on (to prime it, I’m sure). You’ll need to empty the waste water tray often, and clean it often as the coffee sediment creates a gunk. Would suggest Saeco think about a different way to eject the waste water (perhaps a tube one can run to a sink?).
2. It’s a little disappointing that you can’t use “oily” beans, which limit you to light to medium roasts (darker = more oils, which is bad for the machinery). This is common, however, for machines of this type.
3. My coffee snobbery is now at an all time high, since the quality of my home coffee is now sufficient that I strongly dislike coffee most everywhere else!


Negative reviews of this machine focus on the small water quantity being held and the bitter taste.

The whole point of the X-Small is “small footprint.” Remember: this isn’t some crappy auto coffee machine that uses pods (which I detest), but a legit, Italian made pump based espresso machine. So for it to take as little space as it does (it’s still bigger than your standard drip machine though) requires some engineering. Just fill up the freaking reservoir!!!

Re: the taste, come on now, that is purely a function of the beans you use and the style of coffee being made. Espresso is going to have some kick: you are forcing super hot water through beans at a fast rate. To get a smooth cup of coffee, you’ll want to use either a drip machine, or, as I do, a pour over funnel placed on top of a cup.