Mr. Robot (Season 2 Episode 6) Symbology

Mr. Robot TV series imageI’ve been keeping up with the USA hit series Mr. Robot these past few weeks. I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about the episodes and how people are not understanding what is going on or what the purpose of some of the presentation techniques are all about. While I am no TV critique, I would like to offer up my own opinion of what’s going on in the latest episode of Season 2 of Mr. Robot.

In the 6th episode titled “eps2.4m4ster-s1ave.aes” the show takes on a 90’s sitcom feel for a good portion of the total runtime. In the middle we see some more FBI hacking which began a few episodes ago, and at the end it goes back to some more of the 90’s-feeling stuff.

So what’s the point of this 90’s stuff??


Viewer nostalgia

mr-robot-season2-episode6I think this show was targeted towards the early-30s demographic. With that in mind, these 90’s scenes are totally nostalgic. This is the stuff that these viewers were raised with in their middle school years, right along side the main character, Elliot. Everything from the flat sets to the AOL-like ads were all there. Okay, so AOL taylors to the nerds as well, who tend to view it as a major part of the history of our internet-based existence today.

So, yeah, for the tech geeks and nerds, 90’s TV is classic.


E Corp is Everything

e-corp-glitchedThe 90s TV scenes also show how E Corp was there back then and has been around all the way to the show’s modern times. This is just another reinforcing beam of the idea of this giant corporation running everything. In our real world, our mini marts go by the names of 7-11, AM/PM, or Circle K. In this show, people don’t have any other choice but to buy from E Corp.

Since the start of the show, I always felt like this E Corp was there to strip away all the logos, slogans, and branding that we see today. E Corp is a symbol which stands, unmasked, as a representation of the governments and corporations around us. It does everything. Is everything. It is your grocery store, your credit card, your bank, your life’s dependency.

Just like Massive Dynamic from the TV series Fringe, E Corp could use the following slogan:

What do we do? What don’t we do. – Massive Dynamic slogan

So here’s a question for you: Does the ‘E’ in E Corp stand for “evil” like Elliot describes, or does it stand for “everything” or… something else?


Humanizing Elliot’s internal conflict

Mr. Robot These 90’s scenes also served as a kind of flashback. Not a flashback in the traditional sense of literally getting a glimpse of a character’s past, but instead took us to a version of Elliot’s past as it is altered by Mr. Robot. There is a man tied up in the trunk of the car. Nothing much happens with him in the episode. He’s just there.

(I think) it’s almost as if the businessman is there to show how Elliot does not think his dad is perfect. There is something certainly wrong going on, but then there is the face of his dad which keeps saying he is there to help and you see the complete confusion on Elliot’s face as he tries to rationalize the yelling man in the trunk and his calm father driving along.

Mr Robot TV You know that nagging feeling that Elliot’s been talking about for, oh I don’t know, the past two seasons?! I have to wonder if this set was almost a way to bring his mental struggles to our eyes. It was quite clear to all of us that nothing in those car scenes was right or normal. The laughing was wrong. The tire marks on the dead police officer were wrong. Oh yeah, dead police officer? Uh, slightly wrong. And it seems like there’s nothing Elliot can do about it. He is just there, along for the ride.

It felt like the first time I could really understand the mental struggle going on in his head. That if this is really what it feels like up in there, no wonder the guy is having issues coping with reality. We know at the end of these scenes that it was just his way of mentally coping with the pain of the beatings he just received.


If you read this far, thanks!

Mr Robot repair shop sign

This 6th installment in Season 2 of Mr. Robot was full of imagery. Maybe it felt dry. Maybe you felt lost because the plot you thought was finally picking up in the last episode only crawled forward in this one.

Give this show a chance. We’ve seen how it can blow our minds before. Take a step back. Try to understand what it’s getting at. There are certainly some interesting avenues of character development that this show is taking, but you know what, I hate seeing the same kind of thing over and over again. While I would agree with you that this season feels slower, I still can hardly wait for what the Mr. Robot team has in store for us later this season because I have a feeling that this is all creeping towards something massive.

PICAXE Microcontroller with Parallax Serial LCD Display

Parallax Serial LCDDo you want to add an LCD display to your PICAXE project? Do you have a limited number of output pins on your microcontroller? The Parallax Serial LCD display is a great solution!

The Parallax 2×16 serial LCD display has only 3 pins. Only one of those pins connects to the microcontroller. The other two are for power connections.

It turns out, Parallax has made it very easy to communicate with the LCD display with simple serial commands. You can test your display by using or modifying the PICAXE program I have written below.

NOTE: To use the display at the PICAXE’s default 4 Mhz, the LCD will need to be set for a 2400 baud rate and the program will change from:

setfreq m16
symbol tx = c.4
symbol baud = T9600_16

…to…

setfreq m4
symbol tx = c.4
symbol baud = T2400_

The code below will test the serial communication, the display back-lighting (if applicable), and the on-board speaker/sound controls.

I hope this proves useful to somebody! Enjoy!

RESOURCES:

' ------------
'|  LCD Test  |
' ------------

'by Alexander Hogen

'Started: 9-16-2013
'Finished: 9-16-2013

'See "Command Set" in this PDF for
'more information.
'http://www.parallax.com/sites/default/files/downloads/27979-Parallax-Serial-LCDs-Product-Guide-v3.1.pdf

setfreq m16

'9600 baud only works in 16MHz or higher

'Multiply desired millisecond (ms) timing
'by 4 to get desired result.
'i.e. "Pause 5" becomes "Pause 20"

symbol tx = c.4
symbol baud = T9600_16

pause 400

main:
serout tx, baud,(22) 'Turn display on
pause 40
gosub clearLCD
serout tx, baud,(17) 'Turn backlight on

serout tx, baud,("Hello")

pause 4000

gosub clearLCD
serout tx, baud,("LCD works great!")

gosub beeps

end

clearLCD:

serout tx, baud, (12)
pause 40
return

beeps:

serout tx, baud,(216) 'Select the 4th scale (A=440Hz)
pause 40
serout tx, baud,(210) 'Set note length to 1/16 note
pause 40

serout tx, baud,(220,221,222,223,224,225,226,227)
pause 4000

return

Guess…

01010100 01101000 01101111 01110101 00100000 01101000 01100001 01110011 01110100 00100000 01100011 01110010 01100001 01100011 01101011 01100101 01100100 00100000 01101101 01101001 01101110 01100101 00100000 01100011 01101111 01100100 01100101 00100001 00001101 00001010 00001101 00001010 01011001 01100001 01111001 00100000 01100110 01101111 01110010 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00101110 00100000 01011001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01101011 01101110 01101111 01110111 00100000 01101000 01101111 01110111 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 01110101 01110011 01100101 00100000 01100001 00100000 01110100 01100101 01111000 01110100 00100000 01100011 01101111 01100100 01100101 00100000 01100011 01101111 01101110 01110110 01100101 01110010 01110100 01100101 01110010 00101110 00101110 00101110

Sidechain Effect (“Bounce Synth”)

The sidechain effect has been around for a good, long while. Here’s some background info for those of you who might be interested. Wikipedia: Dynamic range compression

There are a variety of ways to do this in LMMS. One LMMS artist (Spade) has a nice tutorial on how to make a sidechain effect using the Peak Controller.

Here, I have two other ideas for you to try out, with a demo/sample for you to download (at the bottom of this post). The first idea is to use the Automation Editor. The second is to use the Volume Envelope filter on the instrument you want the effect to be applied to.

Listen to an audio sample of the LMMS project:

Download this LMMS file and you’ll be able to see how it’s done.

Red Ambassador – Sidechain Example (Right-click and hit “Save As”)

Some things you should know how to do:

  • Connect things to an Automation track
  • Route and instrument through an FX channel
  • Create a melody with an instrument

Does some of this not make sense or you can’t figure it out digging through the sample file? Comment below!

Open-source DIY Greenhouse Project


In a college class this last year, a group of us were assigned to design a system that would collect and graph environmental data from our campus greenhouse. We would take this data, graph it, and display those graphs on a public website. We’d also use current data to control the greenhouse (i.e. watering, heating, cooling…). Hopefully this information helps you if you are wanting to start your own DIY project and automate your greenhouse.

We decided to use an Arduino UNO, a PICAXE-14M2, and a desktop computer running Windows Vista. The Arduino functioned as the main interface and brain. We dedicated the PICAXE to simply reading sensors and sending that data in a continuous stream to the Arduino via a serial communication protocol.

The Arduino would format and send data to be logged to the PC, which runs MegunoLink. The Arduino would also decide, based on environmental conditions, if the heater/cooler/water should be turned on. Future groups working on the project would have to decided whether the Arduino would do this by sending a command to a dedicated microcontroller (reverse of what we did with the PICAXE being dedicated to sensors) or by directly controlling equipment in the greenhouse.

So, in essence, for this project, we figured out how to set up data logging and automation of the greenhouse environment using cheap materials and open source equipment.

In our report, we provide example code for both microcontrollers and discuss difficulties we ran into along the way. You can read this report by clicking on the PDF link below.

Final Report – COCC Greenhouse IT Group.pdf

IT Budget/Component Pricing.pdf

DATASHEETS:

 

OpenOffice and Java not Jiveing?

I recently installed OpenOffice on my computer again to experiment with some database ideas I have. I normally use my MS Office suite for document creation needs, although I have used OpenOffice a lot in the past.

For some reason, I couldn’t create a new database because OpenOffice said that I didn’t have the right version of Java installed or that it couldn’t find a valid installation.

I found an easy fix for this problem. You really just need to delete two files and you’ll be good to go. Since it can take a while to navigate to these files, it’s easier to just use Windows Search to find them for you.

  1. Close OpenOffice completely, including the Quick Start thing in the Taskbar
  2. Open Windows Search (Windows logo key Picture of Windows logo key +F)
  3. Type “javasettinsunopkginstall.xml”
  4. Delete the file.
  5. Search for “jvmfwk3.ini”
  6. Delete the file.

You should be good to go!

Windows Vista Install Problems with Audacity & Blender

If you’ve read any of the other things on this site, then you know that we are fans of Open Source software. Blender is one of these amazing programs. If you don’t know what it is, then I suggest you read our post about the Blender animation program. Audacity is another awesome program for recording and mixing audio. Check it out here.

I happen to have a Windows Vista Business operating system. I recently did a reinstall of the entire OS. When I got to installing all my programs, Audacity and Blender were on the top of my list. The install went successfully, however when I tried to open the programs afterwards, they would just crash or present me with some strange error message. I tried getting older versions of each program, which did work in the Audacity case, but not for Blender. Whatever I did, the program just would not open or run correctly.

A couple weeks later, I got to installing my Windows Live Essentials programs. WLE needs the “Windows Platform Update” if your using a Vista system, like I am. The update is described by Microsoft on this page: Install the Windows Platform Update. WLE installed the update and then completed installing the various associated programs. Everything seemed to be working fine.

Out of curiosity, I tried installing the most recent versions of Audacity and Blender again. Lo and behold, they work fine! If you are having a problem getting Audacity or Blender to work on your Vista system, then I suggest you make sure you’ve got the Windows Platform Update. I’m just guessing, but I think they are related. If you have the Windows Live Essentials programs installed, then you should have the update already.

I hope that helps! :-)

-RED 7

SUPER (c)

SUPER (c) screenshot.Everyone uses digital media. However, with the wide variety of media devices on the market, not all media files can be played by one device. For example, only Apple devices (i.e. iPod, iPad, iPhone) can play the ACC audio format [there are desktop applications, such as VLC, that can play this format as well]. There are a couple universal, cross-platform media formats, like MP3, GIF, or AVI, but these are only a few of the hundreds of formats used today. Do you need to convert a music or video file from one format to another? SUPER is a great solution.

SUPER can convert almost any file to almost any file. It has a wide variety of options that allow you to tune the output file to your specifications. You can drop the frame rate or bit depth down so that your file can fit on a portable device better.

The application’s interface might take a little getting used to. It will seem complex and confusing to someone who doesn’t know what they are doing. With a little practice and experimentation, you can get into the flow of things and start converting anything to anything.

Unfortunately, this program only exists for Windows users. However, it is completely free. There’s no ads or subscriptions necessary to download or use the program. You can find the .exe for SUPER on the eRightSoft website.

Download SUPER (c) from eRightSoft

Program Supports/Requires:

  • Windows only
  • 1.8 GHz processor
  • Microsoft Direct X 9.0c
  • 180 MB RAM available
NWTE Recommends:

  • Fast processor for both playing and encoding (i.e. 2.5 GHz Dual Core or better)
  • More than 4 GB RAM
  • A block of time to let the program re-encode the file(s)