Tech Bag September 2015

Huge update to my tech bag. For starters, I’m starting to refer to it as a tech bag, rather than a go bag, b/c I started a YouTube channel and Go Bag means something different outside of this blog. On top of that, everything except the laptop & iPad have changed!

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3 x $200+ Cell Phone Bills

“Only a moron would spend $80 to $100 dollars per month just for cell service,” I thought to myself. “There must be a cheaper option!”

“I have a lot of sensitive personal data on my phone. I need to enable full disk encryption on my Android.”

These two things by themselves are totally innocuous. But together they ended up costing me over $600 in bills over the course of only 3 months.
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Show: Hannibal

Verdict: AMAZING

How much I’ve seen: All 3 seasons

Where you can watch it: Seasons 1 & 2 stream free w/Amazon Prime

The Hannibal Lecter movies never really did anything for me, although I’m not totally sure why. Maybe I need to rewatch at least Silence of the Lambs. … ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Anyway, while the movies never did anything for me, I was (as I think most people are) fascinated with Hannibal Lecter. But not enough to actually get into this show until it was basically too late. This show is incredible and deserving of a much bigger audience than it apparently got, because it was cancelled after three seasons.

I honestly don’t really remember much of the movies – the only thing I can remember well is Ray Liota eating his own brains out of his head in Hannibal (the movie), and thinking that that was cheesy and too over-the-top for the rest of the movie – and I never read the books. So I don’t know how much of the early seasons is canon. But the show starts out when Hannibal is a consultant for the FBI, and advises them on serial killer cases. It eventually ends up covering the stuff in the movie (and presumably the book) Red Dragon, but never makes it to the Silence of the Lambs stuff. (Silence was the “first” Lecter movie released, but not the first chronologically. “First” b/c Manhunter was the real first Lecter movie, but it wasn’t Anthony Hopkins that played Lecter.)

If I had to try to describe Hannibal, I guess I’d say it’s like a combination of Criminal Minds (another show about the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit chasing serial killers) and Dexter (another show with a still-active serial killer as a main character). Although I don’t think that comparison gives this show the justice it deserves, since I think it’s much better than both. Though to be fair, Hannibal burned out (was cancelled) before it could fade away (end after sucking for a few seasons).

The idea of Hannibal consulting on serial killer cases as a serial killer himself is amazing to watch. Particularly when he’s investigating himself. There’s a lot to be impressed by with this show. It’s smart, it’s decadently shot and contains visual effects that don’t exist on TV beyond maybe the opening credits to True Detective, but it’s also brutally violent. It also tries my attention span a little. Sometimes with the weird sound effects and tough to digest visuals it’s easy to lose focus on the show. But maybe that’s part of the plan? There was one scene in the third season I remember, specifically, because it seemed like a fairly mundane, not really important part of the plot, right up until Hannibal drove a damn ice pick into a dude’s temple. The violence was swift and brutal, and you couldn’t see it coming. As a viewer, or as the other characters in the scene. And it fit in perfectly with the pathology of a psychopathic serial killer.

The biggest negative to this show is how graphic it is. I was floored when I realized this show aired on network TV! It feels like a Showtime series, but it’s on NBC. I have a pretty high tolerance for graphic violence on TV, and even I got close to the limits of what I was willing to subject myself to watching at one point during season two.

This isn’t really part of the review, but it’s related: I found this video on Boing Boing the other day. It’s the same scene from Red Dragon acted out by three different sets of actors for Manhunter, Red Dragon, and Hannibal (the show).

Recovering the Mindset from Matthew Morettini on Vimeo.


Mr. Robot


Show: Mr. Robot

Verdict: AMAZING

How much I’ve seen: Season 1

Where you can watch it: Airs on USA, but the season just ended. The last five episodes are available to stream here.

This show had me from jump street. As soon as I saw the MR. ROBOT title screen of the first episode I knew I was watching something special. Imagine if Fight Club was about a group of Anonymous-style anarchist computer hackers, rather than a group of anarchist soap makers. If you liked Fight Club, you’ll almost certainly like this show.

I was surprised at how good the technobabble was too. It’s so common to see shows get that wrong. I think the details were a little off, but the terminology itself seemed good. (For example: they correctly referenced 256-bit AES encryption, which is a real thing; and they said it’s practically impossible to crack in any reasonable amount of time, which is also true as far as people outside the NSA know; but the attack was to encrypt financial records when they were already in a system. It makes no sense that they encrypted all the copies rather than destroying them all.)

I was surprised at how intrigued I am by the character of Angela. I was not expecting to care about her character at all, but her development through season 1 was really interesting, especially the scene in the shoe store in the last episode.

I will say, like Bloodline, I’m worried about season two. I hope this isn’t too spoilery, but the plot was completely resolved. They don’t have the element of surprise anymore either (although I saw that twist coming from the pilot).

Added bonus for me was that I recognized several shooting locations, because I’ve been at/in several of them.