Monday, January 8, 2018

Hard Sun

Hard Sun reminds me on crime investigation series like X-Files or Lucifer, where you have an overall story of some supernatural level, which in almost every episode peeks through. And "ordinary" crime scene investigation. But it's very dark and bloody.

The premise of the BBC TV drama Hard Sun is that Governments know a mass extinction event will happen in five years and everything on earth is going to die. Before that the crime rate will increase, crops fail and a lot more natural disasters happen. But the Government (here) of the UK does everything to keep it under the lid for reasons not explained. The murderers in the investigation part are all psychopaths, and their behavior tied to events predicted to happen because of Black Sun.

DCI Charlie Hicks, played by Jim Sturgess and his new female partner DI Elaine Renko, played by Agyness Deyn, do not get along well and suspect each others to work for the Government. Plus have private problems themselves, like DI Elaine Renko has a son in a funny farm.

The BBC aired all six episodes of the first season on 6. January 2018 for binge-watching.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Lucifer - City of Angels? - Recap

Lucifer in 2018 kicks off with the episode City of Angels? which entirely plays in 2011, the year Lucifer came to earth.

After getting acquainted to a lifestyle in luxury and leisure, with "sexy babes" all around, Amenadiel shows up and gives him ten minutes to pack, as he will bring him back to hell.

To not spoil it for those who haven't seen this episode yet, it doesn't quite work out as Amenadiel would want. And after Lucifer could stall him Amenadiel becomes victim of a crime, and asks Lucifer to help him. And Lucifer strikes a deal.

Enjoyable episode, fresh and funny. Also nice to see how it began, how Lucifer acquired LUX and other things you never knew.

Intel processor kernel bug

A fundamental design flaw in Intel's processor chips dealing with speculative execution ("KASLR") was found and forced an extensive redesign of the kernels of at least Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems. It was also noted that an otherwise simple microcode update is not sufficient.

Interestingly, these patches KPTI patches to move the kernel to a separated address space of the operating system, no matter if Linux or Windows, will incur a performance hit on Intel products of possible 30%. It now reminds me of the time when DMA (Direct Memory Access) came around and did quite a performance boots. The imagine it's taken away from you again.

It is speculated that it might be enough for users of Intel based computers to run in the open arms of AMD. It will sure cost Intel dearly.

In the meantime two flaw were uncovered and nicknamed Meltdown and Spectre.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Black Mirror - USS Callister - Recap

Spoilers ahead!

The 4th season of the Black Mirror series started in Netflix on December 29th 2017 with the episode USS Callister.

The plot evolves around a psychopathic coder (Daly, played by Jesse Plemons) in a software company creating a virtual reality game where customers can in a dreamlike state witness the events happening. The coder makes digital copies of the real workmates by using their DNA and then traps them inside the game.

They are forced to play along to pleasure the coder, who is the captain of the ship in the game. They cannot defeat the captain in any way. And if they refuse to play along they are tortured, like suffocated for a while. Another time the (copy of the) young son of one is thrown out of an airlock. The copies also cannot die. Even if they committed suicide, the coder could recreate them because he keeps their DNA in the real world. Being a 60s Star Trek (TOS) like game set in the 60s one of the characters claims there is no sex. Also showing where his genitals should be, there is nothing. They have no feelings, cannot even take a dump. Their only pleasure is a bar filled with alcohol.

When a new copy (Cole) comes into the game she decides to fight back. But first has to convince the others to do so.

The cast played their roles well, the story was compelling. In my opinion one of the best episodes since San Junipero and Node dive. Really enjoyed it and look forward for more episodes.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Plug-in Hybrid

A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, short PHEV, is a car which uses an electric motor lie a purely electric car plus some other motor, usually a combustion engine. It can recharge, like a pure electric car, from grid power. But also by the other engine or even convert some of the energy won by decelerating.

As noted in the article about electric cars you might will a worse turnover when living in an area where the electricity is created by the use of fossil fuels. But since plug-in hybrids also uses the combustion engine to recharge, you are still "greener" than with a car running on pure electric, if the efficiency of the electric car is worse than a car running on gas, and the electricity for recharging the electric car is mainly made from fossil fuels. Might help to not let the climate change become as worse as predicted without cutting carbon emissions.

Donald Trump and the moon

Donald Trump signed Space Policy Directive 1 on December 11th 2017 and wants to put a man back to the moon again. And while the NASA's budget is at a all time low. But with companies which have or develop rockets in competition. From a financial view it should be feasible. But why is Donald Trump saying this now?

We've been at the moon, we've done this. Back in the 60s it was thrilling, winning the space race against the Russians. Which actually was part of the arms race. Other Presidents usually said Mars is the next target to go, like Obama. It seems like shortly after elected president most say something like that because they know the people like space. I don't know if this Space Policy Directive 1 is binding, or like with all the other US Presidents not much will happen.

May be one reason is to play North Korea, showing off with "We don't need to focus on a possible war with you and prepare. We have all out missiles already, can kick you ass any time. We are ready and until then we have time to waste some money for fun and put a man on the moon again, let's do some space exploration".

Monday, December 18, 2017

Electric cars and climate change

Many hail electric cars to be "green". Slow down climate change by induced global warming. Save the planet by reducing carbon emissions and its footprint, and thus the greenhouse effect. But this would be too easy. It's an equation, and all depends on the variables to fill in.

To be "green" the electricity has to be from renewable sources, such as solar, wind. Also hydro-electric should count, as its turbines spin when ever water flows. May be even nuclear, as it does not produce carbon emissions. But it has other disadvantages. How to do dispose spent fuel? Or disasters like in Chernobyl and Fukushima.

So it mainly depends on where you charge your electric car. What are the means used there to produce electricity. If using fossil fuels by a coal fired plant, oil, natural gas or petroleum, or bio fuels like heavily used in Brazil, this isn't really "green". It might be "greener" though if the electric car has a higher mileage than a car with combustion engines using the same energy (efficiency).

Also take take into account is the manufacturing. As of 2017 the manufacturing of an electric car emits more carbon emissions than of a conventional car.

I say we are on the right way. But as mentioned it highly depends how the electricity is created where an owner of an electric car plugs it into the grid. If it is from (mainly) hydro, wind or other renewable, also nuclear, energies where you plug it into the grid, you do something positive at the end. If your grid's electricity derives from fossil fuels you probably not. Taking here in account the costs of an electric car you might be better of with a conventional with a low fuel consumption. At least until your grid feeds from renewables.

Technologies have to improve too, and they will. Emitting less carbon on the manufacturing. Building better batteries giving electric cars a longer range. And of course the sources of which the electricity is produced has to more and more come from renewable forms.