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…

World Champion Chicago Cubs

Wrigley Field

Well, there’s a headline I never thought I’d read, much less write.

But last night – Nov. 2nd, 2016 – the Chicago Cubs vanquished the Cleveland Indians and the curse of the goat with an extra-innings 8-7 victory.

And they did it in the least Cubs way possible – winning in extra innings (they always seem to lose in extra innings), and after being down three games to one in the series. Impressive come-from-behind win for anyone, extraordinary for the Cubs.

Yes, the World Champion Chicago Cubs. Last time that was written (not by me, of course) was 108 years ago, in 1908. Wow.

In other news: The weather in Hell will be below 32°; random reports of flying pigs have been filed in the Chicago area.

Bob Dylan – Nobel Laureate

Dylan

OK, dissed Delillo & Roth (again….).

Still a good choice.

Like him or not, Dylan is in many ways the voice of our generation. Covered by countless artists (Dylan and the Beatles are probably the most covered singers/bands), his music is secondary to his lyrics. And that’s what won him the honor.

Masters of War
You fasten all the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion’
As young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud.

Like a Rolling Stone
You used to ride on your chrome horse with your diplomat
Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
Ain’t it hard when you discover that
He really wasn’t where it’s at?
After he took from you everything he could steal
How does it feel?

Tell me, how does it feel to be out on your own?
A complete unknown
Like a rolling stone
Like a rolling stone

Brutal – but Dylan could also be *shrug*

Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right
When your rooster crows at the break of dawn
Look out your window, and I’ll be gone
You’re the reason I’m a-traveling on
But don’t think twice, it’s all right.

I ain’t a-saying you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don’t mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don’t think twice, it’s all right.

There are not many like Dylan – off the top of my head, the other singer/songwriters who are writers first is a thin list: Paul Simon (Sounds of Silence), John Lennon (Imagine) and possibly Bruce Springsteen (Candy’s Room, Born to Run, so many more).

Kudos to the committee for an outside-of-the-box choice that, to me, is oddly appropriate. And I’m a reader who’s still steamed that Jorge Luis Borges never got the nod (and never will; he died in 1986 and awards go to the living). Brilliant writer.