Good morning, and welcome to Ask a Geek Anything volume 26
Another week of the spot on the interwebs where we’ll answer anything that won’t get us told that “you’ll never work in this town again” in Century City… (OK that’s a lie too, we’ve answered several things that I’m sure will insure that we never work in TV, Movies, or hell, even radio)
So, first up is SecurityNewb who asks- So, I just bought a new phone and I want to add an anti-theft program to it. Any suggestions? Amanda Fuesting our beautiful expert on anti hacking software answers:
I personally use and strongly recommend Avast Mobile for my android devices. I have been using it for some time without any issue. I’m not much of a techy person, but my now husband is. He had been using Avast for his antivirus since before I met him, with a lot of very good things to say about it. I tried the free version for my phone and thought that the extra features for the subscription version sounded nice. It was only $15 a year, which is less than I spend on a couple of new release books. The anti-theft is a separate app that you can get for free, but you get some additional features with the premium version that you may or may not want.
To give you an idea of how well the anti-theft app works, let me tell you about my adventures with it very recently. I bought a new phone, and I changed my pin on it because the salesperson saw me enter the old one so he could send contacts over to the new phone. (My husband has made me very paranoid about such things, so I changed it as soon as I got the anti-virus app on the phone.) Of course, I couldn’t remember it and entered it wrong four times, and I set off the lost alarm. It was loud and obnoxious, and would have gotten the attention of anyone in hearing range. It stayed on until I got online and turned it off remotely through my desktop Avast account. The phone couldn’t be turned off, the volume couldn’t be turned off, and it took a picture of me that was available on my desktop login. It tagged GPS on the phone that was available from the desktop. I also had the option to completely wipe the phone from the desktop, and there is an option in the app that will fill the SD card with random nonsense during a wipe so that it is not usable afterward. (I won’t be selecting that option until I know the pin without thinking about it, because that could get expensive quickly. ) I also have mine set to send a message to a friend if someone tries to log into the phone after it’s “lost”. I am not completely sure if that feature works or not, because I apparently didn’t have it enabled when I set off the alarm.
This is only my personal preference and there are about a zillion anti-theft options available. I should also note that no one is getting paid for this recommendation. (If someone at Avast is reading and wants to send to send me a check, I would be happy to take it though.) Ultimately, you have to do your homework and check out the reputation of the one that has the features you want. Every time you install an app, you run the risk of it being used for nefarious purposes. Make sure that the people you choose to get your security through aren’t the same people you need to secure it from. To that end, research. Don’t just read the literature on the company’s website. Check out the review sites and if no reviews come up for a product, install it at your own peril.
And see, that’s why I love working with these folks! I had never heard of this program, but all my family phones are getting this puppy! OK on to:
Dicky Dawkins, who asks- “Who is G K CHesterton and Why should I care?”
Your question has been analyzed, but not rejected. GK Chesterton doesn’t exactly fall under the realm of Geek, really, unless you’re a Catholic geek. Luckily, the Universal Prognosticator has found the right geek to answer it. Those references to identity of the writer have been redacted for your convenience.
GK boils down to a doctor of the Catholic church [defined as someone who really boils down Catholic doctrine to an orthodox yet digestible format, and almost defines doctrine]. GK is part of the Catholic converts that started the 20th century in Britain. While known for creating Father Brown, possibly the first priest detective, GK also wrote a play, The Surprise, as well as biographies of contemporary GB Shaw, St. Francis and St. Thomas Aquinas. He is easily identified by his love of paradoxes, his easy wit, and his compound complex sentences that would make John C Wright orgasm. ”
His glorious prose and poetry has mostly been passed over by the modern man, but his pithy quotes still make good memes in certain corners of the Interwebs that exude incense and the clacking of rosaries.
His early job was as a journalist and a commentator.
He was told that the three things he could not comment on were religion or politics and then every article he wrote ended up being about religion or politics.
One of his better quotes includes “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be beaten,” easily making him the originator of the concept of Human Wave and / or superversive fiction.
A popular line among the Irish-centric is “The great Gaels of Ireland / are the men that God made mad / For all their wars are merry / and all their songs are sad.” from his poem The Ballad of the White Horse – which concluded with a lament that British culture had gone from heroic figures on par with King Arthur, and had come to British paperpushers. (also, Declan Finn’s Master’s thesis on Irish Rebel songs was titled “For all their Wars are Merry.”)
Yes, he also did poems. In short, he was awesome. He also makes David Gerrold look even MORE like the deranged, drooling idiot that he is.
And so I learned something else new. Next up is a set of TV show reviews, from our very own Declan Finn. I could run these over several weeks, but as the shows are already in their third or so shows, I’m going to make this a long post and run them all at one time
TV Show Reviews: Limitless
This show is based off of the film of the same name. While I have never seen it (nor had I heard of it at the time), I have gathered that the film Limitless starred Bradley Cooper. In it, Cooper plays Edward Morra, a fellow who has gotten his hands on a drug called NZT. NZT is supposed to enable a person to use 100% of their brain — because it’s working on the myth that humans use only 5% of our brains (we actually use all of it, it’s just used for various and sundry functions).
In the tv show, Bradley Cooper is back as Morra (just a cameo).Our hero this time is Brian Finch, a wannabe musician, who has his own dose of NZT.
Anyway, Limitless starts in mid-action, backtracks to Finch’s personal history as a failure, as well as his father’s (Ron Rifkin, Alias) medical issues. And even though it’s only a few minutes, they didn’t need to layer on the “loser” factor so much.
Yes, it took five, maybe six minutes of the episode before Finch gets his NZT and becomes interesting, but God, I hated it. I wanted to give up on it in a matter of minutes, that’s how heavily they layered it on.
But, enter the NZT, and we’re off to the races — were Finch can file hundreds of personnel records, doing Flight of the Bumblebee on an electric guitar, diagnosing his father’s ailment, etc..
Of course, Finch becoming interesting comes at a price. His original NZT dealer (not Cooper’s character) is murdered, he’s found with the body at the crime scene, and in order to get away from the FBI, Finch is off and running. And that’s the 20-minute mark. FBI in this case is represented by Jennifer Carpenter (Debra Morgan from Dexter), and Hill Harper (the first ME from NCIS: NY).
The pilot progresses to a simple premise: people who are using NZT at a Wall Street firm are showing up dead, being murdered for doses of this super-smart pill. After a confrontation with the killer, Finch is wounded, and Morra — now a Senator — has to come to the rescue, providing more NZT, and a shot to prevent side effects (which includes death).
So of course, Finch finds the bad guy, the FBI recruits him as a consultant, and a tv show is born.
Really, at the end of the day, I can only suspect that someone watched Sherlock and decided “We need to go full Cumberbatch, because smart people are entertaining.” Some of the same tricks are used — the graphics to represent thought, stopping the action to go through his thought processes. He hasn’t used a memory palace yet, but he’s already used a perfect memory to connect a collection of dots. And it’s interesting in that when the pull wears off, Finch isn’t exactly a dummy.
Honestly? The show is strangely engaging. It’s fun. I’m surprised. In fact, I thought I was going to turn it off in the first five minutes. But, as pilots go, it wasn’t so bad. And it might go somewhere. Right now, this was a proof of concept episode. And I’m good with that.
Review: Minority Report
Having disliked the original Minority Report film with Tom Cruise, I was nevertheless intrigued by the ads for the new TV show. It looked like an interesting science fiction police procedural. In fact, it looked so good, it reminded me of Almost Human. You know, the wholly original show that Fox canceled in the Spring of 2014?
If you don’t remember the film Minority Report, the premise was “pre-crime,” and people were arrested on the word of three precognitives. The MacGuffin for the film was simple: one of the three telepaths disagreed with the predictions, and someone considered “Hey, maybe we should arrest people for things that the actually do.” The film ended with the universal agreement that the entire “pre-crime” program was a bad idea.
So, this show opens with cops complaining about the good old days when they stopped murders before they happened. Yup, that’s right. Completely and utterly forgetting the point.
All I can think at that point is, well, DIDN’T YOU PEOPLE SEE THE MOVIE?
I can tell you right there, I had some problems with the show the minute they bitched about the good old days of pre-crime.
Then they decided to stop the setup references to the movie and actually start acting like cops who have some idea of how to do their job.
Of course, our story opens with one of the three “Precogs” from the film, who is still getting flashes of murders to come. He’s so concerned about these flashes, he tries to stop the murders in progress. And fails. He tips off the lead investigator about his visions, and the perp commits suicide rather than be arrested. Then, because no television cop can every be happy with a closed case that requires no paperwork, the investigator easily tracks down our Precog, just in time for him to have another conveniently-time vision.
That was the first twenty minutes. And I can honestly say that I stopped caring at that point.
I have to ask, was there one good reason this had to be Minority Report? Yes, I know that the film is over ten years old and that the teens who saw in the theater are now money-spending adults. Yes, I know that nostalgia sells. But the movie wasn’t even that good, and there is so little connection to the film, the name is really the only link.
And when they go through time, effort, and energy to try to connect it to the film, that’s when the show goes off the rails (to be explained below).
I’ll freely admit that the show of Minority Report had some cute moments and some fun bits of business. The cops have contact-lens HUDs with infrared scanners and crime scene reconstruction right out of Batman: Arkham Origins, and operated along the lines of Tony Stark’s user interface in the Marvel film.
And that, of course, Batman isn’t the only video game that the stole from. They also ripped off a few character designs from Mirror’s Edge, up to and including an Asian female with eye tattoos.
In short, it was nice to see some of the various and sundry bits of cute technology. But at the end of the day, I’d rather have Almost Human return. DO YOU HEAR ME, FOX EXECS, YOU LOUSY BASTARDS?
The acting was … okay, I guess. The older precog, who operated alongside Tom Cruise’s character in the movie, is fraught with concerns about changing the future, blah blah, let’s hide in the middle of nowhere forever, blah blah, CAN WE HAVE A STORY?
And these people … really don’t have a character. One is “cop” and the other is “plot device,” and that’s about the extent of it. The driving force of one is “cop,” and the other is “I have to act on these visions because I get these visions.”
Seriously, just say “With great power comes great responsibility” and be done with it why don’t you?
At the end of the day … I just don’t care. I don’t care about these people, I don’t care about this setup, and for the love of God, if you want a show about precrime, go watch Person of Interest and be done with it.
Review: The Player
Wait, hold on — Wesley Snipes is allowed on television? I thought he was condemned to be doing direct to DVD films for the rest of his natural life. But, I guess that’s what happens when the IRS is on ones back.
Anyway, The Player opens with Snipes over a dead body….
And then, time for something completely different. Oh look, a main character, named Alex Kane. More importantly, he can act.
Enter Ex-FBI agent Alex Kane, now a security consultant. He thinks on various levels, is observant, and is a little insane. We have the standard James Bond-like opening to show off Kane’s skills — including jumping off a roof to swing in through a hotel room window in order to foil an assassination.
In short, the opening is very much like Human Target … another show I miss.
When Kane’s ex-wife (who he is still very, very friendly with — as in showering together with) is murdered, his pursuit and capture of the killer is interrupted by Cassandra King (played by Charity Wakefield). Kane is, of course, accused of the murder, and adopted by a Mr. Johnson (Snipes). Johnson and King run a unique gambling ring where the bored super-rich predict and bet on crime…Because they’re not going to always bet on black.
Yes, someone on NBC saw Person of Interest, and decided that they could come up with something similar. But then again, so did Fox and Minority Report.
Now, while I’m all for private enterprise, but this strikes be as a little ridiculous. Snipes didn’t exactly help encourage me with this particular ad campaign. And placing bets on crime because it’s predicted solely by data analysis? This part of the show is far too much like Person of Interest. As long as this conceit doesn’t turn into a plot with a killer AI dueling another one, this may not be a problem. We’ll see.
However, the action is tight, Kane is likable, with enough character to show promise. Granted, Snipes is overacting while trying to underplay it, and he’s failing miserably … but Snipes is on for maybe two minutes at a time, so it isn’t a drawback.
At the end of the day? It’s fun. It’s a nice, simple, straightforward action show. Almost 24-ish in nature. I’ll be watching it again.
Review: Scream Queens
Holy Hell, that was the most bizarre show I think I’ve sat through (and tolerated) in years. Perhaps ever.
Imagine one of the vapid sorority girls from Buffy The Vampire Slayer … the movie … and imagine one of them narrating a serial killer movie. If you think it’s going to be bizarre, yeah, that’s about right. Including one victim who sent out a tweet as she’s being murdered.
Statements I’ve made during this program included “Off the wall insane,” “deranged.”
Let’s start with Jamie Leigh Curtis as Dean Munsch, who hates the local sorority, Kappa Kappa Tau. In her efforts to crush them, Munsch insists that Kappa let in everyone, without filters. The head of Kappa is named Chanel, and her minions are Chanel #2, #3, etc. And oh yes, Chanel is the narrator.
Our heroine — I assume — is Grace, whose mother, a Kappa sister, died giving birth to her. Grace discovers this hate-filled mean girls reunion, and plots to take them down after an incident kills their maid / cook (nicknamed “White Mammy”).
Meanwhile, you have a man in a red devil costume murdering at least four people over the course of the first hour. And, yes, I stopped watching somewhere after an incident where a lawnmower decapitated “Deaf Taylor Swift” (yes, really). This doesn’t include the acid bath for the first corpse. And … well, murder #2 had the killer (in full costume) having a face-to-face text conversation with his victim — the last text being “I’m going to kill you now.” And of course, “White Mammy” had her face burned off after being thrust face first into a deep fryer.
Random line: “I Googled blood oath and this is what came up.”
Sigh. Just … part of the problem is that none of these people are really likable. Grace has some virtues, but not much of a personality. She’s noble and virtuous and is going to make Kappa about sisterhood once again! (Even though it’s clear from the opening prologue in the 90s that it wasn’t).
The Kappa girls are strange varieties of “conservative” (backing Jeb Bush? Really?). Jamie Leigh Curtis’ Dean is a former leftie who hates the Kappa girls and how “they bitch about being objectified while dressing like sluts!” … while at the same time, she’s sleeping with a male student.
Yeah, don’t worry, politics aren’t really a reason to stop watching. The (deliberately, and caricatured) vapid characters, an overdose of insanity, or gruesome murders, might not be your cup of tea. And oh, yes, we’ve got a narration peppered with enough slurs to be distracting (referring to new pledges as “gashes,” sluts, the Dean as “Box-Munsch-er”) unless you’re really used to men’s locker rooms (and I might be insulting the men’s locker room.)
This might be someone of interest for people who have a high insanity threshold, or really enjoyed the satirical aspects of the Scream films. I’m keeping a wide berth of this one. And this one? I’ll happily never watch again.
Well, I’m grateful that Declan was willing to review these, because otherwise a couple of them WOULD NEVER have gotten reviewed, because there is no way on Midgard you could get me to sit through Scream Queens for instance…
OK, we’re way over length again this week, so I’m going to sign off now with what has become our standard ending (and folks I mean it, we NEED Questions): remember, you can e-mail us questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/askageekanythingowg . We have all the old articles there and will update it every week with new ones, as well as take questions from posts. If you’re so inclined, we’d appreciate it if you could like and share the page, because we’re running really low on questions to answer! If you don’t ask it, we can’t answer!Have a great weekend, and we’ll see you next week.