TV Series – Season Three is the marker

White Collar 3

Last weekend I was bored and looking for some TV shows (on DVD) to watch.

I stuck in a bunch of shows that I liked, and here is my take-away: Season Three nails it; is sorta the peak of the shows.

It may well be that the shows continue on and do well, but most series never get better – overall (yes, totally objective) – than season three. First season is the set up; season two is the changes (dropped/added characters). Season Three – Hopefully got the grove….

Sample of same from SEASON THREE this weekend:

  • Covert Affairs: Last few episodes. Great.
  • White Collar: Middle of season; solid.
  • Parks and Recreation: This show went all over the place – the last two seasons were great, but season 3 is where it really hit its stride. Season One was sorta a mess – season two is the real beginning of the show.

Outliers? The West Wing season 4 is – to me – better than season 3. But the first few episodes of season 2 are some of the best television ever. *Shrug*

Again, just my opion.

Spring cleaning – internet hardware

Yes, I’m in the midst of going through years of “internet” crap (I really have two boxes of keyboards? Really? [yep]). In our town, we have a pretty good electronics recycling program, and I am filling boxes of stuff ready for when they open in April.

Hence the Spring cleaning – keyboards and beyond – I have a crapload of stuff that I don’t need…and why do I still have it??

For example: Much of the boxes’ contents I’m going through dates back to 1997, so some observations – per gathering of crap over the last 20 years.

GSB phone cord
  • I have way too many cables. Just log off Amazon Prime and check around the house! USB. HDMI. RJ-15. RJ-45. Computer power cords (with the sorta trapezoid three-prong female end). Cords R Us!
  • I has surprised at how much telephone equipment – cords, adapters, splitters and so on I had stashed around the office. But I did begin the whole intertube journey via twisted copper and modems (screech!!!!), so I guess it sorta makes sense. But why do I have a phone line extension cord from my bank? (See picture.) Different times.
  • Found an old Cue cat in the debris. Remember Cue cat? Some do. It’s a keeper.
  • The lack of standards on connectors (or wealth of options) – or cables – is a constant source of frustration. Just computer to video screen: VGA, DIV-X, HDMI, Display Port. And this is getting messy in the mobile world, as well – I’ll be happy when most everything is USB-C or whatever. Pick one. Any one.
  • Routers…so many routers. It seems that each router I purchase lasts fewer days than the one that it replaced. On the other hand, I buy (metal) Netgear switches and they just last and last – maybe the older ones are not as “zippy,” but it’s for a LAN. They are fast (enuf) and, well, don’t die. Yay!
  • I still hoard some stuff: When I roll off an old computer, I’ll often save the fan and – sometimes – other stuff that might die on a future or older computer: ribbon cables, stand-alone NICs. But never power supplies, RAM or other chips. The “but never” stuff in the previous sentence is part of the electronics that I had collected, but are now in the recycling box.
  • Hard drives: I either hang on to them or totally, physically destroy. I’m not paranoid about leaking my info, but I know enough that hard drives should, shall we say, not be offered to the public. NOTE: The ones I destroy (drilling, breaking plattens) go to recycling.

Bottom Line – I finally got around to sorting through the piles/boxes of stuff in my office. Organized (to some degree) the stuff I wanted to keep; boxed the “heave-ho” stuff. My office is suddenly spacious. Success!

Mr. Robot – Season Two

Mr. Robot Season Two

The first season was better, just because it was so different.

The second season is still better than most TV – and they get the tech/tech folks mostly right.

And the series leaves a bunch of holes that need to plugged moving forward. Not a complaint, but a reality. Hey, hooks for the next season, and not in a bad way.

(For future ref: Yes, I purchased the DVD; watched same.)

Halt and Catch Fire – Seasons 1 & 2

Halt and Catch Fire Season One

Halt and Catch Fire Season Two

I had a chance to watch this series over the last few weekends.

I’d heard good things about it – better than expected.

The first two seasons took place in 1983-84 in Dallas, just after the launch (in 1981) of the IBM PC. A group of computer geeks – hardware engineers, software coders and other visionaries work to build on the promise of the PC.

The first season was all about the company the main characters worked at attempting to clone the IBM PC, and end up inventing a portable computer, not just a desktop (it had a handle). It was never described as a notebook or laptop – mainly because it weighed 15 lbs and you still slapped it on a desktop to work on the machine.

The second season focused on the online world – pre-internet – with online communities starting to displace online gaming (foreshadows Reddit and such).

Along the way, the show touches on how broadband will change everything, virus-protection software, time-sharing on mainframes and a host of other issues. I’m a tech dork, so it was fun for me, but Romy – while tech savvy, isn’t a geek – liked it, too. Because while the show revolves around tech, it is about the lives of the main actors. And they, as in real life, have moments of greatness and moments of utter WTF.

At the end of season two, everyone moves from Dallas to the San Francisco area – for different reasons – so I’m looking forward to Season Three (which won’t be out until August, boo!!!).

Good acting; MacKensie Davis (software genius) plays the same role – to an nth degree – that she played in the movie The Martian, where she was a tech geek in Mission Control. Even her hair is the same.

I can’t quite figure out the visionary, Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace). Is he a visionary, or is he just trying to make hay off others’ work? Is he an Ayn Rand superman, who believes so strongly in his own vision that he is willing to (literally!) burn things to the ground to demonstrate that the current path is pointed in the wrong direction? He is very big on the concept of the past and the future, and he has no use for the former, in either technology or his personal life. That is over; look ahead.

And, for the most part, they got the tech right!

And so this is Christmas…

For us, at least, the Xmas holidays (work/personal) are over.

Did I eat just about everything? Yep.

Did I get what I wanted? Didn’t really want anything, so that’s a tough question to answer.

But the holidays are over – we live to fight another (holi)day!

Mesh routers and home assistants

I’ve read a lot about the new “home assistants” – Amazon Echo and Google Home. Others – from Apple or whomever — will be coming.

Good concept, and I think it’s the future.

But what about mesh networking? Google’s WiFi or eero. Both are advertised as “just work.” And others will be coming.

Why not combine two – the assistants are already WiFi enabled, just add a chip for meshing.

Why have two devices (assistant, mesh router) in every room instead of one?? One device (less ugly), one plug (each has to be powered).

I’m convinced this will happen; just wanna say….

Leonard Cohen – RIP

Leonard CohenThis has been a tough year for music.

David Bowie died in January; Prince in April.

And yesterday, Nov. 10th, legendary singer-songwriter and all-around poet Leonard Cohen died at the age of 82.

He leaves behind about 50 years of music, so much that is so close to all matters of death and depression.

I think I first ran across him in college, and my first (and only) record – vinyl – of his, his 1975’s “Leonard Cohen – The Best Of” was purchased sometime in the late 70s. It was always one of my favorites, and yes, I did later get the CD.

He is probably most well-known for his song “Hallelujah,” (especially as covered by Jeff Buckley), but I like the “Best of” songs. Whimsy (“So Long Marianne”, “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye”), love and loss (“Chelsea Hotel #2”), and some pure poetry:

Like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free

— “Bird on the Wire”

A true artist and a hard worker – he just released an album, “You Want It Darker,” less than a month ago.

Famous Blue RaincoatAnd if you are a Cohen fan and want a treat, check out Jennifer Warnes’ Famous Blue Raincoat: The Songs of Leonard Cohen – brilliant covers, especially “First We Take Manhattan.” Warnes has a great range – she can do the quiet, intimate songs, and she can let loose as does in “First We Take Manhattan.”

And if I recall correctly, Cohen sings with her on one of the songs (“Who by Fire”?). Nice touch.

Good luck finding a copy, however. Seems to be out of print and the copies I’ve seen are really expensive.

Reality check

I was just looking at my blog posts, and the titles of the last three are:

  • President Trump
  • World Champion Chicago Cubs
  • Bob Dylan – Nobel Laureate

Let’s say a guy was in coma for the last six months or so – ask him which of those three titles are true.

(Yep, all)

President Trump

Well, this happened (screen capture ~2am CST):

Trump victory

Yes, this took me by surprise, but sometime around 1:30am CST (today; morning after election day Nov. 8), Hillary Clinton (D) called Donald Trump (R) and conceded the presidential race.

Trump will be the 45th president of the United States this coming January (2017).

It’s going to be an interesting next few years…