Wednesday, April 20, 2016

You're Never Weird on the Internet (almost)


And you thought you were awkward and weird growing up? Felicia Day's book, You're Never Weird on the Internet (almost) is a way to look back on your awkward youth and think, "okay, maybe I wasn't that bad." But in a good way. This memoir will tell you everything you need to know about how this nerd queen (though she does not see herself that way) came to be molded into the person we admire. The super short answer, blame it on her mom. Kidding. Sort of. But there is more to it than that.

The book details a childhood moving a lot and a particular brand of homeschooling that some might call "home schooling." While Felicia's mother could possibly have been over encouraging, the end result of Felicia's upbringing combined with an apparent natural talent for music and math, and the the influence of the internet formed one of the bright lights in nerd culture. The book also highlights how gaming (and internet gaming) would be both a blessing and a curse to Felicia Day.

In a weird way, reading about her life you kind of both wish you grew up the same way and thank god you didn't. The weirdness of her childhood might not have worked so well on some of us. But then again, maybe we all could have benefited with a little more weirdness growing up. But moving on... The various adventures and experiences Felicia had growing up are interesting, entertaining, and in some cases a tad head scratching. I mean, there is some alternate timeline where Felicia Day is a Tejano singer in Texas. What would that have looked like?


Sometimes I have way too much time on my hands.

Anyway...  You're Never Weird on the Internet also gives you the the story of how the acclaimed web series The Guild came to be. Which still is one of the best things on the internet in my opinion. Felicia Day's memoir is an fascinating look into a not so normal life. But obviously, "normal" may not always be the best life. Even though she had her trials and tribulations she managed to not only be successful, but build her own brand and business and be someone who the rest of us nerds can look up to. More importantly, You're Never Weird on the Internet also shows us that being weird and/or different (on the internet or real world) does not have to mean you can't be happy.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Mr. Robot


How to describe Mr. Robot.... Well first of all it is a fantastic series. What starts off as sort of a heist type thriller story involving hackers/hacktivists vs. corporate evil steadily becomes more of a psychological thriller. Typically I'd throw out spoilers, but this series is so good, I really don't want to give anything away to anyone. I know not everyone has seen Mr. Robot. There are just way too many good shows out there. Rami Malik is Elliot Anderson, a coder/hacker who works for an information security firm called Allsafe.


Ellot suffers from severe paranoia, delusions, and as we come to find out, sporadic memory loss. The series starts with a major cyber attack on E Corp, the biggest client of Allsafe. Although whenever someone mentions E Corp, Elliot perceives it as Evil Corp. Kinda a shot across the bow of corporate America. The corporate logo is even a purposely similar to the Enron logo.


Elliot is the only one who is able to stop the intrusion. In doing so he finds a file within the code that is directed at him. He is given the chance to delete the file or leave it in place and see what the hackers want from him. Unable to let go of the mystery, he leaves the file in place, hiding it so that he is the only one who knows it is there. We start to see how far down the rabbit hole goes when Elliot meets Mr. Robot.


Christian Slater, who's character is only referred to as Mr. Robot, is the the mysterious leader of a hacktivist group called fsociety. Their symbol is a hybrid of the Guy Fawkes mask (made popular by the film, V For Vendetta, and used by the hacktivist group Anonymous) and the the face of Monopoly guy. They are on a mission to completely destroy Evil Corp, the banking system in general, and erase the debt of all Americans, thus freeing society.


The entire season 1 arc revolves around fsociety setting up the cyber attack. We also get to see the subplots of other characters including Elliot's best friend and co-worker at Allsafe, Angela Moss, played by Portia Doubleday. They have know each other since childhood and both lost parents to the effects of a chemical spill attributed to Evil Corp. Actually, in a way the fsociety operation is really just the background for Elliot's deteriorating psychological condition. And as the series progresses we get to see how damaged all the characters are, and I do mean ALL. Well, maybe except for Elliot's boss at Allsafe. The poor guy just wants to run a good company and gets caught up in all the fallout. The series also peels back the layers of Evil Corp and the "too big to fail" notion as well as the darker side of hactivists and criminal hacking groups who sometimes cooperate when need be. Well, in this series anyway. I have no knowledge or experience with that stuff in the real world. I just wish I had those skills. Mr. Robot is a great psychological thriller/drama that has plenty of "What the..." moments that keep things plenty interesting. I look forward to season 2.


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