astsu: why Mr Robot is the most tech-savvy show ever

I finally watched the pilot episode of Mr Robot and I was totally blown away by the way the handle the hacking aspects of the show. If you haven’t seen the show, the main character is a professional security engineer by day and a “cyber vigilante” at night. It’s great!

Every aspect of the way he goes about his job is authentic (+/- reasonable poetic license) from: social engineering techniques, password cracking, right down to the command line.

As an example of the authenticity + poetic license = tech-savviness, throughout the pilot the lead character uses a command: astsu. astsu is not a real linux command and it’s not totally clear what it does. However, the way that he uses it is totally legit. He doesn’t use it when other commands would do the job and the arguments he passes to it look believable for something vaguely network/security related. We can assume that this command is code that he’s written himself. The command is basically a plot device for the nerds that will notice this sort of thing.

The fact that writers/producers/whoever demonstrate an incredible attention to detail and authenticity. I’m definitely going to continue watching

Oh, the soundtrack is perfect too.

Back in the RSSR

My reddit account just turned 8 this year, in that time the more I visited reddit, the less I checked RSS feeds. To the point where I completely stopped reading them after Google killed reader. Reddit was where I got all my news and that was fine.

But over the years – I don’t know if it’s reddit that’s changed, if it’s me or a combination – I’ve started using reddit less for pure news and more for pure diversion, cat gifs and memes. When I do end up reading news, I usually just read the headline and skim the comments for someone’s summary or an interesting discussion point.

As I thought about this more, I realized that I have not been reading much, period. This is a bad thing.

For the past month or so I’ve been trying hard to get back into the habit of reading RSS feeds and it’s going fairly well.

Ironically, my reader of choice is the new(ish) digg.com, the site I quickly abandoned when I made a reddit account 8 years ago. The new Digg reader is quite good. It does three pretty interesting and useful things. (1) It mimic’s Google’s old reader fairly well; (2) It has a popularity feature that shows you the most popular posts from the feeds you follow – handy for a quick read; (3) “Digg Deeper” scans your Twitter feed and exposes popular links from the people you follow (not dissimilar to something I built for myself when Twitter first launched [relevant]).

48 hours with Apple Music

I’ve been a subscriber to rdio for a couple of years, streaming music isn’t anything new to me. So I was very interested to check out Apple’s implementation.

Here’s my take after using it for the last couple of days.

The Good

Playlists:
The curated playlists are feature I didn’t expect to use much, but I’ve spent more time listening to these than anything else. Apple is doing a great job of both selecting playlists I’d be interested in based on my music preferences and selecting tracks.

The only weird thing is that the playlist seem to skew heavily towards older music. I’m not sure why this might be, I don’t typically listen to a lot of old music.

Library:
The selection of available artist and albums is comparable to rdio. I have yet to look for something I couldn’t find.

Streaming Tech:
Apple is doing a much better job of varying the stream based on available bandwidth. We have a few mobile internet dead zones near our place that always trip up rdio, Apple Music has not had any problems in these zones.

Apple Music also seems to be doing a good job of buffering. There is no delay in switching to the next track.

The Bad

Desktop Client Does Not Work: 
I can’t get Apple Music to work in iTunes, period.

App UI:
Rdio has a really great mobile app. Apple, not so much. I find it really confusing and hard to use. More on this in a future post (maybe).

Beats 1:
Beats1 plays the ultra poppy music you’d expect a beats wearing teenager to eat up. It’s not for me.

The eLitePhone 5S

I’ve come to the conclusion that the iPhone 5S is too fancy for me.

With the gold-trimmed sapphire home button and the extremely high price tag – topping out at $1040* in Canada; it feels like a $1000 watch to me. I don’t just live a lifestyle (or have the taste for fancy things) that would accommodate a $1000 watch.

Granted the iPhone has always been high-end, but for a long time it has also been the only reasonable option IMHO. The 5C feels more my speed. I can only imagine this divergence in products is a conscious effort by Apple to continue to position themselves as an ultra-high-end retailer.

* including GST + MB PST

My 2012 Podcast Recommendations

This morning I wrote an email to a good friend who’s finally taking a real interest in podcasts, after years me trying to convince him to start listening to something, anything. The email ended up being fairly comprehensive, so I’m going to repost it here.

He already listens to No Agenda, Industrial Strength Nightmares and Planet Money based on my recommendation, I won’t be covering those here.

The 404 Show – They kind of cover tech news. The show reminds me a lot of Diggnation. If you’re going to listen to back episodes, I wouldn’t suggest anything old than about 3 years. If I recall, that’s when the show really started to get good.
Sound Opinions – They talk about music, interview artists and review new albums. Often they cover music I’m not terribly interested in, but I (almost) always find the show entertaining regardless.
Tech News Today – Daily Tech News. I’ve been listening to the main host of the show (Tom Merritt) for on his various tech news shows for around 6 years. Sarah Lane from TechTV is a co-host. I have mixed feelings about recommending this show, I’m not really a fan of the other regular hosts and am kind of looking for a replacement. I don’t recommend listening to back episodes, I think that’d be a little like watching re-runs of the evening news.
There are various shows from FrogPants Studios that I’ve listened to over the years. The network was started by Scott Johnson a web cartoonist all the shows are “humour-based.” The shows are sort of hit and miss and the overall production quality of their shows has really improved over the past year or so. I’d recommend listening to the latest episode of a show before deciding whether you listen to back episodes. A couple of shows I’d recommend from that network specifically are:
The Instance – I don’t understand how you play World of Warcraft without listening to this podcast. I haven’t listened since I quit WoW, but I assume it’s still good.
The Movielicious– A french guy, an Englishman and an American woman review (American) movies. It’s funny.
Hypothetical Help – The hosts help listeners with their personal problems, using wit and humour.
Film Sack – Typically the four hosts review terrible movies. I don’t actually enjoy their weekly episodes as much as their “Bonus Sack” commentary tracks. They record commentary tracks for movies (you play the movie on your TV and listen to their audio on your device).  Their ST:TNG episode commentary is especially good.