All that is wrong with the world…

November 28, 2009

Thoughts on V: The Series

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 5:13 pm

I’ve been watching the V re-imagining since it launched just under a month ago, and I’ve found it to be entertaining enough for the most part. I don’t remember the original series too well – I watched some episodes as a kid and read some books, but never followed it in any serious way, which leaves this new series to be judged on its own merits.

So far, I think it is working so far more than it isn’t, although it certainly has its faults. Most noticeable of which, is the astounding lame dialog that frequently occurs. A good example of such was in the pilot episode, where two teenagers were shown on TV. One remarking that it was like the film Independence Day, and his friends responding that that film was a ripoff of any number of alien invasion predecessors. ID4 was a lot of things, but I’m not sure it can be accused of being a ripoff without accusing every other film in history. Not to mention I don’t see kids worrying about that when a spaceship has just landed above Manhattan.

Another example was in the last or second last example, with the lead FBI character remarking that “what are they thinking? It’s like 9/11 never happened!”. Such dialog seems forced..and I’m not sure what it is trying to accomplish. To reinforce to the viewer the fact that governments are accepting the Vs too soon? To show the mistrust of the character? One thing I’m sure of, is that people don’t talk aloud like that to themselves…

The priest storyline also seems a bit forced or out of place. Are they really planning on sustaining this subplot through the season, let alone the series? A follower devout enough to become a priest would not have such problems explaining away the V’s as a test of God or some such. Reasonable people who might note a slight inconsistency with the arrival of extraterrestrials and the lack of any mention in any religious text, would likely not become priests in the first place. It isn’t an interesting subplot, and it has not possible interesting outcome. The setup is interesting…but not the current route they are taking with it.

The love story between the black-guy-V and girl seems a bit odd. Even if we ignore the likelihood that reptilian aliens would likely be so radically different emotionally, that any kind of emotional pairing would be impossible, surely the differences in anatomy would be great enough to prevent such relationships? Perhaps the reasoning behind all of this has to do with the human suits the V’s wear. Unlike the latex suits in the original series, this time they seem to be wearing living tissue. Although, to a more advanced level than Arnie had in T2. We saw at the end of the last episode that being skinned was a form of slow death/torture, so the human skin is obviously bonded quite tightly. Perhaps to a point where the V’s personalities are affected by hormones or something, and they develop the ability to think like humans.

Apparently their suit is advanced enough for pregnancy to occur. I have to wonder about that, as reptilians tend to lay eggs. Perhaps this can be put down to the human suit being advanced enough to go so far as to replicate all the functions of an actual human body. I would just wonder about the DNA…, would it havie nothing to do with the V, and just belong to the human suit.., or would it perhaps be some mix of V and human DNA, similar to how human DNA is mixed with Na’vi DNA in Avatar to maintain some traits.

I also wonder about the male and female aspects. generally with reptiles, there are not so many differences between sexes. Certainly nothing approaching the level of differences present in humans. So, do the V’s just don a male/female suit being indifferent to the gender of their human suit, or do they chose their human gender based on their own? I wonder if these are things that will be revealed through the series, or if they will be considered insignificant.

There was also the ridiculous accusations of the show being an attack on Obama. Promising things like Universal Health Care and using terms like ‘hope’ and ‘change’ are exactly what you would expect from aliens promising to save mankind while planning to screw them. The fact that it premiered on the date Obama was elected is a coincidence, nothing more. Thinking the fact that the lead resistance fighter’s name being Erica is meant to symbolize America is just taking things to far.

There may have been something more with the last episodes focus on tainted vaccines and the H1N1 scare and conspiracy theories, but even that is stretching things. Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar, and a show about aliens is just a show about aliens.

I do think the relaunch of the show is interesting, and the world today is remarkably different to what it was when the show was launched. With the post 9/11 craziness, energy and environment crisis’s, growing xenophobia and such, I think V could examine these issues in a way that few other shows are in as good a position to do so. I look forward to an intelligent commentary on things like the patriot act, fear of unfamiliar cultures, dependence on media, groupthink etc..

V is meant to return in January, and I hope that the show lasts at least a few seasons so it can grow and mature. There is a lack of decent science fiction shows on at present and I would like to see V fill that void, albeit with better writing

November 17, 2009

A short comparison of AntiVirus products

Filed under: Security, Tech — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 8:10 am

The following summaries of AV software are based purely on my experiences with said software. I’ve been working in the field for about 15 years, and I’ve setup most AV products at one time or another, and seen them in action. I also keep track with reviews and tests, of which two are independent and recognized as somewhat authoritative: AV Comparatives and Virus Bulletin. If you disagree with my opinions, please do leave a comment, and let me know why.

  • AVG is recommended by people who don’t know any better, or had it recommended to them and recommend it in turn. It has poor detection rates, invasive behavior and can have a large impact on performance. While it may be easy to use, it is not reliable, and the company uses stupid techniques like flooding the internet to try and save a dying product. The free version has especially limited functionality in some ways, such as being unable to set exceptions. The product is not overly configurable, is not secure or reliable, and should not be trusted or recommended. There is absolutely no reason to use it in light of the other products available.
  • Avast is a popular choice, and quite decent. easy to use, negligible impact on performance, excellent scanning speed, very configurable, and decent detection rates. Avast is free for home use. I would recommend Avast as second to Avira, as within the last year the development team has been paying less attention to reported viruses, which is a shame.
  • Avira currently has the best detection rates, is free for home use, easy to understand, and relatively configurable. It does not have all of the features of Avast such as a web and IM protection, but this should not be a problem for most people. It tends to rely on ads, however this can be easily disabled after searching to find out how. There is a negligible, if any, impact on performance.
  • Microsoft Security Essentials is the newest product in this list, but it is also among the highest rating. It is released completely free to licensed Windows users, with no limitations. It is unobtrusive, has near to no impact on performance, and has a high detection and low false positive rate. It lacks some of the configurability of Avira and Avast, but is more intuitive and easy to use than both of them.
  • Nod32 tends to be recommended by people who are familiar with it. In reality, it is less effective and has less features than Avira, Avast or MSE. It has lower detection rates, slower performance, is not as easy to use and often does not clean up infections effectively. It also has a high false positive rate, which is just annoying. Considering that it is not free and has no technical advantage over the free products, there is very little reason to suggest this.
  • Norton 360 deserves a mention here. Norton has a well deserved reputation for being a resources hog, and requiring an obscene amount of effort to properly remove, while not being a terribly great virus scanner to begin with. This reputation however, is no longer deserved. Symantec have given the Norton product a complete rewrite, and it is now incredibly fast and efficient, and simple to remove. It has several innovative features that make scanning and threat detection fast and efficient, with detection rates close to or equal to Avira. However, the main drawback here is the price. There is simply no advantage that justifies paying for Norton over one of the excellent free products.

The well known products such as Symantec, McAfee, CA, Sophos and the like tend to be tailored more for a corporate environment, having features that are meant to make large scale administration and configuration simpler. For home use, they are expensive, slow and out of place.

The best choice is currently Avira. It has the right mix of ease of use and flexibility, while having high detection rates and being free. Microsoft Security Essentials is the next best choice, and may be more suitable for less savvy users.You should also use software such as Spybot S&D and Malwarebytes to scan for malware, which can be more of a risk these days. The very best advice is just to employ common sense when downloading and using the internet, and you may not even need a virus scanner in the first place. Stay up to date with security fixes, don’t download dodgy executables etc..

If you do decide to not use an AntiVirus product(a choice I intend to justify in an upcoming article), then two sites which may be of use are VirusTotal and Jotti’s Malware Scan. Both of these sites will allow you to upload a file, where it will be matched against several AntiVirus products(around 30 or more) to identify if a file is suspicious or not. These sites may also be used to verify if a suspected false positive is clean or not.

Warning:There are many fake AntiVirus products, which are actually malware of some kind pretending to be a virus scanner. They may even go so far as to pretend to find viruses and clean files. They tend to have dubious names such as “AntiVirus 2009”. Make sure to thoroughly investigate the software you plan to install on your machine if it is not listed here, or you are not familiar with it. If you think you may have been infected with malware, then my guide to removing malware may help you to restore your system to a clean and working state.

Disclaimer: This is accurate as of Nov 2009…things may well change.