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Algorithm (2014): Bad Acting of No Consequence

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“Most people have no idea what a hacker can do. I make the world you live in, and I can reshape that world if I feel like it,” says the main character as the movie Algorithm begins.

Also read: Tor Network May Face Disabling Attack

Background

AlgorithmSelf-described Hacker Luser is an information libertarian. He doesn’t care about politics, he doesn’t care about the acquisition of wealth. His primary drive in life is based on the original hacker ethos: information should be free. To supplement his humble lifestyle in San Francisco, Luser – Will Stevens – does contract work for everyday people. A man wanting to find out about his wife cheating on him hires him, and this leads him to a high-profile CTO of an NSA contractor, which leads him to download a slew of programs, most notably one called “Shepard,” which we later find out is a futuristic, all-seeing, all-powerful tracking program.

Written and directed by Jonathan Schiefer, the film leaves a lot to be desired in terms of acting. The emotional responses of the actors are often underplayed, and there is little or no chemistry between any of the characters. For instance, near the end, when Luser and Pseudonym and Hash are all about to go away to a secret prison, Bitchan, Luser’s near-girlfriend whom he appears to have known for fifteen years, only asks why the Decimate gave them up and silently cries. It would seem that if Luser was really as important to her as she earlier states, she would have a greater reaction – especially in terms of hatred toward Decimate.

Throughout the film, there is an ambient music which gives one the feeling of learning something very important. If you were to click over to something else, you might think a documentary was taking place. Additionally, the whole thing is narrated by Luser. The production could have done a lot more showing than telling.

Acting

The scene where Hash, the code-oriented hacker, is extracted from Pseudonym’s bar, called Radius, is way undercooked. It could have been the most dramatic moment of the movie. Instead, it’s silent, and the girl who is knocked over is obviously not that troubled by it – even though she appears to be trying to act as if she is. All of this fails to convey the importance of this event to the overall plot.

The real movie part of this movie is how Luser, played by Chris Panzera, goes to all his friends for help all the time. Except for one time, he doesn’t offer them any compensation, and so it’s unclear why these people are safe to talk to – and this would seem a big no-no for a serious hacker. Hackers are naturally paranoid people, prone to trust nothing and no one. It appears that this whole group of people just freely talks about their highly illegal activities with abandon throughout. Given the other realistic tendencies of the film – all done in real locations in San Francisco – it is not asking too much to expect a more realistic leaning in regard to the security culture of Luser and Hash and Pseudonym.

The best acting in the whole movie is by the agent whose apparent job is to release prisoners and be nice to them. He comes off as the most authentic character, played by John Gilligan.

Plot

The premise is that Decimate provides a gig for Luser in the role of a private investigator for a man who believes his wife is cheating on him. The whole thing later turns out to be a setup, though this is never actually explored. The person the wife is cheating on her husband with is the CTO of a major NSA contractor, and through hacking this man, Luser comes upon some serious surveillance programs. Later, it is Decimate who turns Luser in, after Luser has freed his friend Hash by counterfeiting a “prisoner transfer” document. This scene is done wrong, as well, since it would seem that if the prisoner is being transferred he would at least be doing so in chains.

“Don’t you believe in anything?” Luser asks Decimate the night before everyone goes away to prison.

“Survival. […] You either play the game and thrive, or fight, and lose. I don’t lose,” says the douchey friend who gave him the password to access the program in the first place – which should have been a red flag. Decimate also works for “governments and multi-national corporations.” In this reviewer’s experience, unfortunately, Decimate is the norm among security professionals: ego-driven and self-centered.

In the end, we find out that the customer who supposedly wanted to find out about his cheating wife also works for the bad guys. After twenty days of intense interrogation, Luser is released to the care of his friends, and this man attempts to recruit Luser. The movie ends before we find out whether or not he cooperates.

In all, I rate this movie slightly higher than the IMDB (currently 5.9 out of 10). I’ll give it a 6.5 out of 10. While the acting could have been a lot better, the story has an authentic feeling to it – it does not seem so far-fetched anymore that the government would go to these lengths to find and hire the best security researchers out there. It could have done better in its attempt at the polemic, where Luser reveals the activities of a random person using the Shepard program, but the explanation of real software like Tor and even the questioning of whether Tor is vulnerable or not gets it major geek points.

You can watch Algorithm for free. Enjoy.

Images from Algorithm.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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5 stars on average, based on 2 rated postsP. H. Madore has covered the cryptocurrency beat over the course of hundreds of articles for Hacked's sister site, CryptoCoinsNews, as well as some of her competitors. He is a major contributing developer to the Woodcoin project, and has made technical contributions on a number of other cryptocurrency projects. In spare time, he recently began a more personalized, weekly newsletter at http://ico.phm.link




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Op-Ed

Our Review of the MJAC CryptoCompare Summit in London, UK (13 June 2018)

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Disclaimer: This was my first attendance at such an event since beginning my career as a professional and independent cryptocurrency and /or blockchain journalist.

 I am not affiliated with the event organisers nor do I know them personally, and the same goes for all organisations in attendance as of the time of writing.

[official photographs here]

Earlier this month, I attended the ‘MJAC CryptoCompare Blockchain Summit’ and concluded that the best approach would be to cover the event in a candid matter.

There weren’t any scandals or controversies to speak of. What we mean by this is that this piece intends to cover the greatest pros and cons of the event, in hindsight (which was organised and executed by CryptoCompare in collaboration with MJAC).

First off, MJAC (AKA InvestorsHub) is an organisation that you aren’t likely to have heard of. They are the events and conferences arm of ADVFN, a prominent financial services organisation. Many of the same people responsible for the successful ‘Marijuana Annual Conference’ were also behind the conference in question, hence the acronym ‘MJAC’.

Many of you should be fully aware of CryptoCompare. They are arguably one of the most utilised data resources for up-to-date and historical data on market trends, respective per-coin values, and overall trade volume.

Location and Venue

The days proceedings took place at a venue called ‘Old Billingsgate’.

It’s a listed building which features a combination of historical architecture with modern internal fittings and is located close to Monument tube station. Its name derives from the nearby historic Old Billingsgate Market area.

The choice of venue couldn’t have been much better thanks in part to the location’s iconic and unobstructed view across the Thames River: including the Tower of London in clear sight, plus The Shard being mostly-visible nearby.

Old Billingsgate benefits from being highly accessible to attendees and participants due to its central location, however this is where the positive words I have for the venue start to run dry.

The aesthetic was great, and photographs show a busy yet not overpopulated show floor. The show started with a similar number as represented for most of the day, but later in the day the floor became packed and somewhat claustrophobic.

This atmosphere wasn’t helped by the fact that the space here felt both condensed and underutilised at the same time, with all the stalls leaving small hallways to brush past other visitors.

Conversely, over half of the two stories of open areas in the venue were dedicated to two theatre spaces, one large and one small. These rooms were well arranged and hosted all the one-day summit’s speakers and panelists.

Speeches and Panels

Speakers and individual panel attendees of course were responsible for many of the day’s highlights, as well as the presence of a combination of established and up-and-coming companies/ICOs.

Vitaly Kedyk (Executive Director of CEX.IO) and Claire Wells (Director of Legal & Business Affairs for EMEA at Circle) were two of the events strongest performers, whilst other notable speakers & panellists included representatives from CoinFloor, Ripple, BlockEx, and Coinbase – to name a few.

Unfortunately, not all panellists seemed to be ideal matches for such discussions. A couple that I attended, for example, featured a combination of experts whose interactions were often close to non-existent with each other. What’s more, top participants were easily distinguished by their contribution of valuable insights and answers than their peers in some circumstances.

Organisation and execution of the event overall is something to be lauded. Every speech and panel I saw started and finished with perfect timing, suggesting a great approach to planning. There was also a great atmosphere amongst participants and all I spoke to.

Success or Failure?

The qualification and quantification of any event’s success or failure should arguably be defined in several ways. Cryptocurrency is still growing as an industry (despite what the market tracking values may indicate), which gives us less of a general standard against which to measure them.

One way we can still utilise though, is to measure its performance in hindsight and considering the organisers’ own stated ambitions / agenda.

“The pace of development in the crypto space has rapidly picked up in the past year and it Is now more important than ever to gather the top thought leaders to showcase progress and discuss challenges. MJAC will give customers, investors, and regulators a chance to glimpse into the future direction of this exciting new industry.”Charles Hayter, CryptoCompare.

This quote was taken from the first page of a complimentary guide that was available to all attendees.

It came along with a free book (‘CryptoAssets’ by Chris Burniske and Jack Tatar), which is honestly not bad as a beginners and intermediate level guide aimed primarily at non-technical crypto enthusiasts.

For all intents and purposes, the organisation achieved their stated goal to a degree, however the sequel had better be much more impressive to excuse the lack of experience on British soil (one of the largest crypto economies in Europe, and arguably one of if not the financial capital).

A Relative Conclusion

The second and final way (that we will discuss here) you can measure such an event is through comparison to other events, which are popping up around the world as well as within London alone despite market indicators.

One of these is the similarly titled ‘Blockchain Summit London 2018’. It is set to be a much larger event: boasting approximately 2,500 attendees and over 150 speakers.

It also costs approximately £400 for the two-day event and is set in the well-known Olympia venue in Kensington, West London. Taking place just a couple of weeks after the MJAC CryptoCompare conference.

MJAC CryptoCompare Blockchain Summit was the first event held by these event organisers about cryptocurrency in London. On that end: it is not entirely fair to consider it an equal comparison with this rival, especially when tickets were the relatively low price of £100.

Despite this I can’t help but admit that I was perhaps expecting more from this ‘summit’, if not a little too much.

7/10

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Opinionated

New Bike Simulator Makes it Amusingly Fun to Exercise

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We joined Activetainment‘s Norway launch of their new B\01 Bike in Oslo earlier this month. The new bike is a part of the training concept named ebove which is:

a unique training concept that combines exercise and gaming.

Activetainment strives to make indoor exercise more like outdoor exercise, with both visual and motional features. The company claims that they deliver the most engaging, entertaining and realistic indoor exercise experience in the world. The only way to test their claim was to try a few of the bikes ourselves and interview one of the founders.

 

 

Interview with co-founder Jan Arild Svello from Activetainment

Who started Activetainment?

My classmates, Jørgen Østby Damslora and Sondre Fossum, and I met the inventor of the technology, Ziad Badarneh, during a school course. We immediately saw that this idea could become the next big thing within the fitness industry and consequently formed Activetainment with Ziad in 2012.

We have a genuine desire to make indoor exercise more fun than it currently is by using elements from gaming and gamification. We created bike simulators that move like outdoor bikes in line with what you see on the screen. The combination of hardware and software that we created was brand new.

Have you been working on the project full time since 2012?

Yes, we have. The first year we all worked “pro-bono” and we had to find the cheapest food products to cope. But all entrepreneurs know about that entrepreneurial stage. Then we succeeded to raise funds from private investors which made it possible to develop our prototypes in cooperation with our production partner in Asia.

Tell me more about your VR-concept

Virtual reality is something that we wanted early on for our bikes. As standard, they are equipped with a touchscreen where you see the track you are exercising on, but with VR you can get a different and more real experience. We want our bikes to be able to utilize all new technology that can improve the experience. When we used VR on our bikes for first time, we understood that this was the future.

Everyone that tries this their first time, gets an ‘out of body experience’. You’ll experience real fear and adrenaline, and that is something we’re pretty proud of.

What has been most difficult with your startup?

It takes time! It always takes longer time than you expect. The product development has given us a few challenges as well. The fun starts now as we are able to finally sell our products.

How many have you sold?

After showcasing at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year we got almost 200 consumer inquiries, but we weren’t able to start taking orders at that time. We have now just opened up for orders and we have already sold 15 bikes.

How much does a bike cost?

We have an introductory offer, where you can get the whole set-up and a special edition design for $4600. The normal sale price will be between $6000 to $8000. We will mainly target businesses like hotels and gyms first though.

Have you had multiple funding rounds?

Yes, we have. Our investors are private persons that we know through our own network, and they have invested in us through multiple rounds. We haven’t chosen to go after venture capital yet since we have managed to fund the startup ourselves. Now, since we have started to sell our product, we want to become sustainable as fast as possible.

What is next year’s goal?

We want to sell and ship bikes and establish new partnerships for our distribution. In the coming years we also want to change our focus from hardware to software and open up for 3rd-party developers to contribute.

What software are you using?

We are using Unity as our game platform and Linux as our operative system.

Review of Activetainment’s ebove B/01

The B\01 Bike made me sweat after just a few minutes on it. I wasn’t pedaling that fast, but the energy I used to try and stay balanced was more than enough to make me burn some fat. As this was my first time trying the bike I believe it will become easier to stay balanced the next time around and get some real pedaling action.

I tried both their virtual reality connected bike and a bike with a lcd-screen attached to the steering (one of their newer models). The VR-bike gave me the most challenge and felt most real. However, since this was the first time I’ve ever tried a VR-concept, I struggled with maintaining balance on the bike. I swayed heaviliy from side to side the first five minutes on the bike but after a while I got more comfortable.

I can say that I’ve never had so much fun on an indoor bike before, and it may even beat the outdoor experience – as I love both the gaming and technology aspect of the concept. I can imagine this will become a huge success when you are able to gather your friends to an online bike competition.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe that will happen anytime soon for the “average joe” as the price of $4600 to $8000 is too expensive for the mass market. But I believe that fitness gyms and high class hotels will fight over these bikes

Images by Jonas Borchgrevink @Hacked.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 3 rated postsMultiple journalists and analysts are behind the name Edward Talliot.




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Interviews

Interview With The Creator Of Joe Rogan’s Preferred Writing App, WriteRoom

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I started using WriteRoom after I heard Joe Rogan mention the software on his podcast, The Joe Rogan experience. The comedian says he uses the software for his comedy writing sessions he strives to do daily. The software’s purpose is to serve as a no thrills text editor that offers a plain full-screen mode thus blocking out all the distractions. Whether it’s cat memes, fear porn or debates in comment sections, Jesse Grosjean, creator of the software and founder of Hogbay Software, wants to help you be more productive.

The idea behind WriteRoom posits that with fewer visible options on screen, concentration on the writing process increases. As PC Mag stated, “WriteRoom makes concentrating easier than any other app I’ve tried.”

When I use WriteRoom, my ideas are better, I can flush them out in my very own mind tunnel (of course with some music playing, perhaps Gorillaz or The Clash). The endless distractions to every corner of the imagination provided by the Internet no longer exist. Alongside a version for Mac, an iOS version is also available.

In the full-screen version, the only available graphics other than your text is the word count. Customizations are available, and there is even spell-checking, grammar-correcting and autocorrect. WriteRoom offers numerous Themes to change the appearance of the screen. It appears Mr. Rogan likes a green text on black background. I tend to use a black background with white text.

WriteRoom creates plain text files in standard .TXT format. To italicize, bold, create headlines, and so on, I open the document in Google Documents or Word and format. The company recently updated FoldingText. As Jesse wrote on the company blog:

It’s a free update to all existing users. FoldingText 2.1 comes with a lot of bug fixes and improvements.

 

  • A Calculator Mode: Now you can perform math calculations right within Foldingtext. See Help > Calc Mode Guide.
  • A Stopwatch Mode: Run timers from within FoldingText to track time. Useful for keeping track of your time while writing. See Help > Stopwatch Mode Guide.
  • Auto pairing brackets, multiple cursors, customizable notification sounds and much more.

 

I spoke with Jesse about WriteRoom and his other software, FoldingText. I ask him about Joe Rogan’s mention of WriteRoom and the effect it had on Hogbay Software and other things.

So, I heard about your software from Joe Rogan. Did you know he mentioned it on his podcast one time? Did that affect sales to a noticeable degree? Are there other well-known writers using your software?

JG: This was a number of years ago. I didn’t hear the podcast, but I had quite a few people tell me about it. I’m sure it affected sales positively, but I’m not really sure by how much. For better or worse, I spend most of my time messing with software, and not much tracking sales.

I’m not sure who’s using WriteRoom. Truth is I have a hard time remembering the names of people that I see every week in my men’s league soccer. Remembering who is using WriteRoom is out of the realm of possibility for me. I would hope at least a few famous people have used it, and I guess Joe Rogan’s one example.

How is your soccer team doing?
JG: Heh, good! We often win the league in in fact! But, it’s a mens over 30, small sided, 5v5 including keepers, indoor on astroturf, with only 5 team’s in the league. So maybe not the level of competition that’s generally described when someone claims to play on a winning team…

writeroom3-3

Why might writers enjoy FoldingText? What sorts of features does it have beyond WriteRoom?

JG: FoldingText isn’t really meant to replace WriteRoom. With that said if you are writing using Markdown syntax, then I think you would prefer FoldingText since one of the big things that it does is highlight Markdown syntax.

Have you heard of the early text editor, GrandView? Did that serve as an inspiration at all?

JG: Depends on which GrandView.I’m really interested in outliners and GrandView was in the first wave of PC outliners way back in DOS days, I think. That software is a bit before my time, and I never used it, but I have read about it and other old outliners such as ThinkTank and others.

Any plans for the future?

JG: Right now I’m working on an update to TaskPaper.

What is TaskPaper’s strength?

JG: TaskPaper is for managing to-do lists in a plain text file. It’s related to FoldingText (FoldingText was created by wondering what would happen if I took the ideas in TaskPaper and turned them up to 11), but less ambitious and simpler. I’ve been deep into FoldingText for a number of years, and now it’s TaskPaper’s turn for an update.

Tell us a bit about recent updates to FoldingText in version 2.1, if you don’t mind.

JG: I think calculator mode is the neatest new feature. It allows you to do math, and see live results, in your text file.

FoldingText is definitely the coolest piece of software that I’ve worked on, but it’s also quite geeky and not easy to sell. Much easier to sell simpler more focused apps like WriteRoom and TaskPaper. Going forward Mutahhir [], who also worked with me to create FoldingText, is going to work on it with an eye toward bug fixes and maintaining it into the future.

Thanks for chatting with Hacked.com, Jesse.

JG: My pleasure and thank you!

Images from Shutterstock and the Writeroom software.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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5 stars on average, based on 1 rated postsJustin O'Connell is the founder of financial technology focused CryptographicAsset.com. Justin organized the launch of the largest Bitcoin ATM hardware and software provider in the world at the historical Hotel del Coronado in southern California. His works appear in the U.S.'s third largest weekly, the San Diego Reader, VICE and elsewhere.




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