Apr 22, 2014

Trancendence Plot Questions

This post contains spoilers. If you want to see the movie, read no further!

*** Contains Spoilers!!! ***

Well there are a number of plot elements that raised questions in my mind. So here is my attempt to detail some of them. This may not bother you if you are not a geek. But stuff like this in a movie tends to drive me crazy.

The AI stuff seemed fine to me. Not a lot of techno bable. The main characters are really smart and have believeable equipment. That seemed fine to me. Uploading the brain to the computer was fine too. So no issue with the first third of the movie. But once the AI is uploaded to the Internet that is when things started to get silly.

Uploading a copy of someone’s brain in 30 seconds with a tiny satellite dish seems a bit hard to believe.

Once the AI is on the net, why do you need to build a data center? Why not just use your existing lab?

How can you build something that large in like 2 weeks?

Then why build only 1 data center? Why not 2, 4, or hundreds? Gonna be much harder for the dozen or so people trying to destroy the machine to take all of those out. lol.

Why do small towns in Hollywood movies look like they are populated with ex-roadies from Led Zepelin? Apparently the director has never met a farmer or a cowboy.

Why would a God-like AI be unable to anticipate that someone would try to attack it with a virus? Also, the AI can create human bodies, but hasn’t re-written its own source code?

So the smartest being ever created is taken out by a researcher from Lawrence Livermore, an FBI agent, about 4 terrorists and about 10 mercenaries?

Why were the characters frightened by a neural interface to the Internet? If Apple were offering them, people would be lining up to buy them. lol.

Why does the wife never seem to reason with the AI? She is a brialliant scientist, not a jilted 12 year old.

So why again do we have to destroy an AI that can cure any human ailment? And, objectively has not hurt anyone?

At the end, the only solution is to destroy all electronic equipment anywhere in the world probably killing hundreds of millions of people, if not billions? And of course, setting society back 200 years. Really? The that is the “good” outcome?

Apr 19, 2014

Trancendence Quick Review (2/5)

So I saw Trancendence yesterday. The basic plot is shown in the previews and commercials for the film. Johnny Depp plays a brilliant scientist who is mortally wounded and manages to transfer his mind into a computer. But has his soul transferred as well? Or has he turned into an evil machine with no soul? The movie attempts to answer this question.

The movie is well acted and well shot. There are a lot of great actors including Depp, Paul Bettany, Kate Mara, and Morgan Freeman. However, as a geek, I found the plot to be more than a bit lacking. I will make another post detailing my observations. If you are not a geek, what bothers me may not bother you, so this may result in an extra star or two for someone else. But if you feel the plot needs to hold together logically, this may not be the movie for you.

Apr 10, 2014

Decline of the Mobile Web?

Webkit icon

This story from earlier in the week seem to strike a chord: The Decline of the Mobile Web. The gist of the story seems to be that mobile phone users are using apps more than their browsers. Consequently, the web is dead.

As a counter point, John Gruber of Daring Fireball wrote this post, making the excellent point that many mobile apps are merely specialized web browsers that use http and https. Just because they are not traditional browsers does not mean the web is dead.

In addition, a big chunk of time spent in apps was Facebook. Probaly another case where the app is just another specialized browser. Also, Facebook is kinda link a new and improved AOL. Sure you can surf the web from there, but the main goal is to keep you on Facebook, period. My guess is that heavy Facebook users are probably not big web surfers to begin with.

The biggest slice of time at 32% was gaming. Also not an area where the web dominates. Once again, another area that really has no impact on web usage.

So to sum up, the web is not dead. In fact, it is probably more vibrant now than it has ever been. In my experience, most specialized content apps still suck when compared to their web counterparts. I read a lot of news and have tried apps for newspapers like the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the Daily Mail, plus a number of tech site apps. Generally, these apps are horrible. Why should I wait for an app to download a site and cache it when I can just go to the web page and read right now. Plus, the apps seem to be infected with poor user intefaces and unwanted advertising that cannot be easily skipped like on a web page. So for me, a good ole web browser is still my most used app.

Apr 7, 2014

Kindle Fire TV Heats Things Up

Well last week Amazon came out with a Apple TV, Roku-like device called the Kindle Fire TV. CNET has a nice summary write up here..

Basically, it is like an Apple TV or Roku, plus Android games. From my experience, most non-tech folks have no idea what an Apple TV or Roku is. They still buy and trade DVDs to watch movies. Something like this, linked to a service they already use, will be a game changer. Looks like the ultimate Netflix box to me.

I am not sure how well the game aspect will do initially. A game control costs $40. My guess is, it would sell a lot better at $20. But I like the basic idea. You can play Minecraft on it and that will make my nieces and nephew happy.

How will Apple and Roku react? The Amazon hardware is far superior to the other two and should make for a better streaming experience. Will Apple finally come out with a killer Apple TV device? I hope this announcement is a catalyst to better Internet TV for all of us.

Mar 25, 2014

Wired Writers must be Flush with Cash

Wired has this write up of a laptop messenger bag from a bicycle company. All I can say is I must be very poor cash-wise as a Wired reader. The bag goes for $403 each! Holy smoke that's expensive! Paying more than $50 for a bag seems extreme to me.

Oh well, I guess I will just never be a cool kid. :)

Mar 18, 2014

Google Drive Prices Drop a LOT!

Google Logo

This is from last week, but definitely worth a comment. Google has dropped their pricing on Google Drive quite a bit. The basic 100G plan went from $5 a month to $2 a month. That is a pretty good deal. I use GDrive for backups and it seems to work really well.

Wow, the price of storage is getting cheap. Before too long, these cloud companies will be paying us to their product. lol. But seriously, one has to wonder, can money be made at these prices? Or is this just a fight for market share and the prices will go back up at some point?

Then there is the practical question. With Internet connections what they are in the US, how long would it take to backup 1 Terabyte ($10 a month)? Several months? A year? Well anyway, Google is definitely well positioned if our Net speeds get faster.

Mar 9, 2014

300: Rise of an Empire - Quick Review (3/5)

Well, I took in 300: Rise of an Empire last night. The movie is good, but does not quite rise to the level of the original.

The focus on the film is the naval battle that took place between the Athenian Navy and the Persian Navy while the Spartans were fighting on land at Thermopylae. The Persian naval commander is the evil Artemisia (Eva Green). A Greek by birth, she is a true believer and follower of the god king Xerces. The Greeks are lead by Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton), a brave and crafty general from Athens. Almost all of the action takes places on ships. Plenty of ramming (think galley scene from Ben Hur) and hand to hand combat.

First, what bothered me. The Greek dialog is pretty weak. It lacks the sarcasm and fatalistic humor of the original 300. That has been replaced by heroic, yet boring speeches from Themistocles and Queen Gorgo (Lena Heady). So the character development on the Greek side is lacking a bit. Also, naval battles are generally hard to follow. Plus, the build up to the battle of the two fleets gives the Persians a ridiculously, unbelievable fleet. This leads to a few scenes that come across as a little silly.

Eva Green is great in her role and was given considerably more to work with than Stapleton. She is definitely one of the highlights of the film. There is one sex scene this is, shall we say, very "interesting". lol. The action scenes were well shot and live up to the 300 standard.

All of the main characters are based on real historical figures. I recommend you Google them and read up on what actually happened on Wikipedia. Expect a 3rd movie since the battle of Plataea did not make it into this film.