My thoughts on Star Trek discovery

If you have read my blog before, you might have already gathered that I am a bit of nerd. After all, I did go to the New York Comic Con in a full Jedi outfit. One of the corner stones of Nerd culture and probably the one of the things that started it Star Trek, something that I have been all that into. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate Star trek, I am just more of a Star Wars guy.

I still appreciate all that Star Trek has brought to the Nerd culture and I really liked what J.J. Abrams did with the reboot. I have tried watching the original series but I just cannot get over the cheesiness of it all. I Just started watching the Next Generations and I think I am hooked.

So why am I talking about about Star Trek, well to talk about Star Trek Discovery. When I heard that they were making a new TV series, I was excited. The prospect of a continuation of such a recognize franchise could help it get revitalized, after all It worked with Doctor Who, Surely It could do the same for Star Trek. However it seemed that more and more bad news and rumors kept coming: It was a On demand exclusive, the creator behind the original project was effectively fired, the release date kept been pushed back, special effects team been fired and more.

But it seems that there was light at the end of the tunnel and they finally started filming early this year, and few day ago the first teaser was released. A teaser that did not inspire much confidence in me.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, I am not a hardcore Trekker, and therefore does not necessarily have the case for complains. That being said, what was shown in the trailer feels a bit bland. The aesthetic are very different than the ones from the original shows. The USS enterprise in the Original Series for example had bright pallet to them, they feel clean and welcoming, where as the new ship is dark and almost gritty. The bright colored shirt of the crew were replaced with more militarized uniform, and I originally thought they had ditched the Blue/Yellow/Red colors until I rewatched the teaser a second time. The slant camera angles feel out of place and we see the return of the much hated lens flares.

To cap it all off, Fox just released a teaser for their own Star Trek inspire comedy series, The Orville. If you have ever seen Galaxy Quest, it is basically the same gist but as a TV show which is epic. It is clear that they put a lot of effort to make this show look and feel like what a modern Star Trek series would look like, one might even say they cared more about recreating the style and feel of the original series than CBS.

If star Trek Discovery fail, I would guess that one of the main culprit would be CBS all access or what ever they are calling their streaming service. I don’t think that people will be all that Interested in pay the subscription fee just for one show. If you look at what Amazon, Netflix and Hulu offer for the same price, they are much better values. Unless CBS decide to pull all their shows from other streaming services and put them on their platform, which is unlikely since Netflix is the one distributing Discovery outside the states, there won’t be much reasons to stick around after binge watching the series.

I f you want to delve deeper in the mess that is Star Trek discovery, Midnight’s Edge has done a great retrospective on all the rumors and production trouble of the show here. They also explain how Intellectual Property Right might the cause of it all.

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A collection of rants…

I am not a fan of targeted ads, I might say that I even hate them.

I remember when I ordered all the stuff for my gaming computer, all I saw for a month were ads for android tablet and for HP laptops. Why would I want any of those? I buy a soundtrack from one My favorite games and amazon’s entire recommended section is now entirely filled with random video game soundtrack and nothing more ( marginally better than before, I bought some energy gels for running sometime ago and the recommended section was mostly sport bras…). I used to watch TV shows on Hulu and tried to give feed back on the ads they were displaying but it worked in reverse. All the ads I said were irrelevant were appearing more and more frequently while the ads I said were relevant disappeared…

There seems that there is only one place where I managed to get some sense of optimization and that was on Youtube. You can select a “I am not interested” option for the videos in the recommended section and it seemed to work! After maybe three weeks, The recommend section felt like it made sense. It only had topics that would watch and by youtubers that I either was subscribed too or watched once I a while. As we all know however, all good things come to an end. One day Youtube is the way I like it, the next day it is filled with those annoying react videos, Jimmy Kimmel segments and Rick&Morty videos…

Why? I could spend an entire week watching nothing other than Numberphile video and Youtube logical conclusion is that I really like watching is Comedy central videos? yeah right… Listening to Metallica recently? Clearly Youtube knows that what you really want is the latest Katy Perry… What bunch of nonsense…

My guess is that there is a general cycle for promotions. Every month or so, the new paid promotion cycle kicks in and all the recommendation algorithms are overruled by what corporate interests think you should be watching…  So annoying…

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Talking about annoyances and technologies, Ransom-ware are back in fashion.

In case you’ve missed (which seem rather unlikely), There this malware that has been going around known as “WannaCry”. It exploited a vulnerability in older Windows machine that allowed it to infect other computer that were on the same network as the infected machine. Once infected the malware encrypts your data and hold them ransom, prompting the user to pay up to $600 have them decrypted.

That sounds like a horrible way to start off your day. The truth is that it is rather simple to avoid such situation: don’t be stupid.

Here are a few pointers on how not to be stupid:

  • Avoid public WiFi, that how this one was spreading. Your computer is wide open for hacking at your local Starbucks!
  • Don’t open any email attachment unless you are 100% sure of what it is or who sent it. Most email service have built in spam filters, so it not that much a threat unless you really try.
  • Don’t torrent stuff, That is usually how this type of malware starts spreading from. better off spending a few buck to get a movie or music off amazon than $300 to recover your hacked computer.
  • Make frequent offline back ups of your stuff that matters. That way if you ever end being infected simply reformat and reinstall your OS and recovery from our back up.

Follow these four simple trick and live a worry free online life! unless you are still worried that big corporation like google and Facebook are pretty much doing the type of of profiling and surveillance programs that the NSA/CIA could only dream of, then you will never sleep a quiet night for the rest of your life….

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You know what really excites me these days? Virtual Reality! You know what also annoys me quite a bit? Virtual Reality! Why oh why is everyone so boneheaded when it comes to VR…

I think Headset should be considered as peripherals and that you should simply pick the one you prefer, plug it in your computer and be off to the races. But NOhhoooo says Oculus, Oculus is special and only Oculus approved games will work on it. Valve says that they want an open platform but as far as I am aware, SteamVr does not support Oculus. They blame Oculus but lets face it, it is not so much that they can’t support so much they don’t want to.

It is the same thing on mobile phones! Samsung has its own library of cool VR app that could probably run on a number of similarly spec’ed phone but NOOhhooo… Google dream deck sound cool too, it has cool remote and visor thing but NOOOhhooo… Only google approved phones will get access to those app… So much for open platform that is android…

And here comes Microsoft and Acer with a new Headset! and this one is going to be cheap, at around $400 for the headset and the controllers! And its tracking is done by its on board cameras rather than trackers, which means ease of set up! What is there not to like?

Well, as far as I can tell, It won’t work with Vive or Oculus games and will only work with Microsoft’s approved mixed reality apps… Yeay! Another walled garden of software to deal with… The Mixed reality portal app thingy is already on my computer but does not do anything yet.

The fact you might need two or three separate headset that ostensibly all do the same thing so that you can deal with three set of ostensibly similar program just blows my mind. Imagine if you had to use an Hp key board to use Chrome and a LG keyboard to use Microsoft excel and a third brand of Keyboard to use outlook, You would go nuts!

Maybe one day someone will make a standard VR interface that all headset can comply with but at this point, that seems a bit like a pipe dream…

My computer did some math and Free comic book day

Obviously I am a big nerd. I go to comic conventions, I have a box full of Rubik’s type puzzles and I like mathematics. Mathematics is cool. If any one tells you otherwise they are wrong. None of your electronics would work without all the research that has gone in math.

Obviously, maths has gone a long way and trying to find some new and exciting theorems or trying to prove anything is now really hard.  However, you can push the boundary of knowledge by letting your computer do the calculation for you. You can download a small client and when you are not using your computer it will run some calculation and figure out some math! I have been running the app on my other computer and I already got a couple results!

Here are the two arithmetic sequence of prime that my computer was able to verify:

Basically, they are sequence of 20 and 21 primes that are separated by the same distance. I have yet to find a new prime, but hey you never know. The interesting thing is that despite only running the app for a couple weeks and only a few hours a day, I am already in the 91 percentile of all the US…

So I feel like that if get a bunch of decent used part and slap together a computer just for distributed computation, I would make to the top of the charts… that could be a cool weekend project.

The project I am running is called PrimeGrid, and it runs on the BOINC platform. There is also the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search and they are usually the ones finding the largest known primes.

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So today was Free Comic Book day, which is the best of all those weird national days that people came with (though speak like a pirate day and speak like Shatner day are rather cool). Basically, you can go to your local Comic book store and get sample and previews from all the comic book publishers. My local store also does sales and usually a celebrity guest, which this year was Dean Cain who played Superman back in the days.

Last year I decide to show up an hour and a half before the store was set to open and there were already 30-40 ish people there and by the time they opened there was at least 200 people in line. It took me 20 or so minute to get in, so I assume it took at least an hour or more for the people at the back of the line.

This year, I had more cunning plan! By cunning I mean that I just asked the guys from the store to set a bunch of the free comics aside and put them with my usual pull list. That way all I had to do is wait for the store proper to open and be handed a bag full of free stuff rather than wait forever. There are perks in being a regular at your local comic store! The line was almost as long as last year, so I am glad that I did not have to wait.

People do show up in costumes and you can engage pretty much anyone on anything nerd related, so the wait is not necessarily that bad.

I figured it would be a good time to go see Guardian of the Galaxy since it was early in the day and everyone would be busy waiting in line for free stuff. Very good film though not as good as the first one in my opinion. I personally feel that some time they spend to much time on a joke when they could cut it a bit shorter and put a bit more story in. Otherwise, Solid entry in the Marvel universe. Oh and only one of the five “post-credit”  scenes (they are in the middle of the credits though, “mid-credits” scenes?…) really matter…