[Movie] Blackhat

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IMDb link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2717822/

The year is 2010. In Natanz nuclear facility located in Iran, centrifuges ran amok, spinning at abnormal rates, eventually resulting in an incident in which one-fifth of the centrifuges are destroyed.

This, by the way, is a real-life incident. A quick science lesson. To make Uranium-based nuclear bombs, you obviously need Uranium. But not just any Uranium, as Uranium commonly comes in 2 forms. To extract the Uranium suitable for weaponizing, you need a process called Uranium enrichment. And this, is where centrifuges are used.

Now, what has this incident got to do with the Blackhat movie. Guess what, centrifuges are controlled by PLC, or Programmable Logic Controller. Although never admitted publicly, the Natanz disaster was widely believed to be caused by a highly sophisticated computer worm, named Stuxnet, that targets the specific PLC model. This is what inspired movie producer Michael Mann to make Blackhat. The triggering mechanism in the opening scene is obviously a tribute to this incident.

This, and other realistic accounts of hacking, is what makes Blackhat the greatest hacking movie ever – at least according to Wired. As someone who has a background in cyber-security, I totally enjoyed those parts of the movie. Like when a NSA director clicked on a PDF file and got infected by possibly a zero-day attack. Or the social engineering involved in getting a replacement for a coffee-stained printout – leading to a USB-based infection. Even the terminal commands used are proper Unix commands!

Unfortunately, realism alone does not make a good movie. The rest of the elements are nowhere was good. One gets the feeling that the chosen plot location and actors used (Wang Leehom, Tang Wei) are purely for appealing to the Chinese-speaking markets. There’s an absolute lack of on-screen chemistry between Chris Helmsworth, Tang Wei. The action sequences are a joke. The dialogue? Cringeworthy. Oh, and don’t get me started on the plot. Stuffed magazines and sharpened screwdrivers against trained gunmans? Really?

There’s no better way to say this: this movie is a disaster. One gets the feeling that the movie can’t decide what it wants to be, and so tries to be everything and ended up succeeding in none.

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Rating: 1.5/5

My CafeHopping Stint

O.M.G! I have not been blogging for such a long time! Nope, I have not forsaken this space.  Let me just consolidate and share my reviews of 8 cafes I have recently visited here – all at one go! (NB: In random order, in case u read too much in between the lines)

The Assembly Ground Cafe
This cafe is located just next to its Assembly Store that’s a multi-label store selling a wide range of clothes, bags, accessories, etc.  I visited the cafe when K was there for another reason…to buy the bag he was eyeing for awhile at the Assembly Store, his latest favourite.

Back on track:  The cafe has nice and cosy ambience. Though it’s a lil dim for my standard.  I like the Green Tea Latte! The mushroom panini was nice too.  As for the crowd, it is located at The Cathay, so what do u think? *wink*  I would recommend to those who want to spend time with a couple of friends on a lazy weekend afternoon.  Check it out 🙂

Tottz’ review
Ambience:  3.5/5
Beverage & Food:  4/5
Cost:  3.5/5 (1- not worth; 5 – value-for-money…according to Tottz’ spending power) 

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Carpenter & Cook
This cafe serves quiches!! I was instantly excited and ordered 2 for sharing; the cheese and bacon as well as the cherry tomato. Though my number 1 is still the one at TWG, this is not too bad.  The highlight is actually the choc sea salt caramel and lemon tart.  Heavenly! I like it so much that I packed them home for K.  We’ve been there previously but don’t think we tried the tarts then.  The latte is normal.  For selfie and we-fie guys, this cafe offers a very nice ambience with pretty ‘props’ and background for photo taking.  My gal friends were all busy taking photos of almost everything in the cafe even when the food were served.  If you have time for a cuppa and pastries, come here for happy food & fun shots with your buddies!

Tottz’ review
Ambience:  4/5
Beverage & Pastries:  4/5
Cost:  3/5

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Coast and Company
I’m often confused over the name of this place – Coastliner or Coast Cycles or Coast and Company?? This is a two-in-one kind of cafe where part of the cafe is a bicycle shop (Coast Cycles) and the other part is the actual dining area (Coast and Company). Since Siglap is near our place, we swing by on a weekend morning to have brunch.  I like the ‘clean’, simplistic and spacious feel of this cafe.  But I find there’s not many choices for me in terms of food. So I ordered the Almond Peanut Butter Toast while K had the Beef Rendang Hotdog.  Yummy!  The latte was nice too.  Maybe I’m biased cos it’s affiliated to Papa Pahelta 🙂  I’ll certainly be back soon!

Tottz’ review
Ambience:  4/5
Beverage & Food:  4/5
Cost:  3.5/5

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Brawn & Brains
Another cafe that’s nearby our place. We’re really in for treats 🙂  Just next to the former Badminton Association at MacPherson, B&B is small and inconspicuous.  Apart from two long tables, there are only small chairs and side tables.  But that didn’t stop a family of 3 from sitting outside the entrance for an alfresco feel. Hmmm….

Seems like they roast different coffee beans everyday.  We got to choose between 2 different types of coffee beans and K loved the coffee so much that he ordered a 2nd helping.  It was a pity that we were too early and were told that sandwiches would only be served after 10am. So we ordered the croissants to go with our latte. I’m sure their panini would be yummy as well, on my next comeback!

Tottz’ review
Ambience:  3/5
Beverage & Pastries:  4/5
Cost:  4/5

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Jones The Grocer
Saw this cafe at ION Orchard but didn’t visit it then.  I eventually got the chance to go to the other outlet at Dempsey Hill. Well, not as up market as the former outlet, if you ask me. But I like the feel here better.  Perhaps, it’s due to its colonial setting and high ceilings, it is very spacious.  Apart from the food, the merchandise displayed at the place also took some waiting time off us as we walked around the cafe checking out what it has to offer.  Very tempted by the cutesy candies, chocs and stuff but I managed to stop myself, haha.

We did not order the food.  We only went there for drinks and desserts.  The lemon meringue tart was delicious!

Tottz’ review
Ambience:  3.5/5
Beverage & Pastries:  4/5
Cost:  3.5/5

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Brew Maison
A friend wanted to give me a bday treat and threw a popular food blog to me so that I can choose which newly opened cafe I wanted to go.  Most of the cafes listed in the blog only serve drinks and desserts; no proper food.  While scrolling the photos, my attention was locked at a cutesy 3D latte art of a cat (though yours truly is not really a cat-lover).  And, this cafe serves fusion Jap-Korean food and beverages.  Cool!

To our disappointment, we didn’t get the latte art even though we ordered its popular Taro latte.  We accepted the fact that perhaps the artist was not there till later cos we saw another group of gals had theirs (awww!).  The food is mediocre, I would say. Just like the food blogger has recommended, only the Tori Bite (aka self-made chic nuggets -> middle pic of the left column below) can make it. Oh well, I may not want to revisit this place that is residing within the Alocassia Apartments, Bukit Timah Road.  I would think its largest clientele would be the SCGS gals as it offers spacious and a pretty haven for homework and assignments 🙂

Tottz’ review
Ambience:  4/5
Beverage & Food:  2.5/5
Cost:  3.5/5

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<photo above from danielfooddiary>

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Craftsmen Specialty Coffee
“This place got class!” was my 1st impression as we approached its main entrance. I like its simplistic Scandinavian setting, furnishing; everything!  It is also spacious and neat – exactly for an OCD like yours truly.  I was instantly satisfied.  It is located within the new Siglap V condominium, so most of its customers are the residents living nearby.  As we were early, there was only simple food such as pastries and bread. So we ordered Hazelnut Latte, Almond Croissant and Sausage Bun. Noticed that they have no kitchen, so we presumed they must have sourced the food and Gryphon tea from vendors. Only the coffee is in-house. But we were not impressed by its coffee nor latte art, sorry.  Our heart still go fondly back to B&B and we liked the idea of being able to choose the freshly roasted coffee nut 🙂

Tottz’ review
Ambience:  4/5
Beverage & Pastries:  3.5/5
Cost:  3.5/5

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I like the 2-in-1 concept of decorating the pipe this way

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Residents streaming in continuously for takeaway coffee

Bluespoon
Lately we received a flyer introducing a new cafe along Joo Chiat Road, called Bluespoon. I checked the website and interestingly, found that it provides an “online kitchen – express gourmet” segment.  Formerly known as Ulu Ulu Cafe Lounge at Loyang Crescent, it has just been rebranded as Bluespoon.  Went there for a light brunch and ordered fried jap breaded shrimps with fries. I liked it.  K ordered nan with lamb shank. Not bad, he said.  The seats on level 2 offer a warm, cosy and homely feel.  Bluespoon is nestled along the famous Joo Chiat strip of old yet characteristic shophouses.  Spend your lazy weekend afternoon here if you are in search of peace and tranquillity!

Tottz’ review
Ambience:  4/5
Beverage & Food:  3.5/5
Cost:  4/5

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[Movie] Transcendence

transcendence
IMdb link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2209764/

***Spoilers ahead***

In the not too distant future, where advances in machine intelligence is threatening to approach Singularity, a Sarah Connor-like leader emerges and forms a rebel group in an attempt to stop it from happening.

By the way, Singularity is a real concept in AI that is loosely defined as the point in human evolution where machine intelligence exceeds that of human intelligence. Some has even predicted the exact year in which it will happen – 2045. The prevailing notion in science is that Singularity can be a threat to humanity alongside global warming and asteroid impact, as no one can predict what will happen when machines become capable of real intelligence.

This is not a new concept in film – the moment in Terminator when SkyNet “wakes up” can be defined as Singularity. The slight difference in this movie is that the source of this intelligence originates from a human and is transferred to machine – hence transcending the human body. This is unlike Terminator where the machine spontaneously achieves awareness by itself.

In essence Transcendence is exploring 2 concepts – transferrence of ‘self’ or consciousness, and that of Singularity. The first is a subject matter that has deep philosophical roots and which has been explored in depth in both theology as well as science. There are very deep questions such as what gets transferred – assuming it is possible at all – what is consciousness, in fact what is the concept of self. Personally I find this to be a fascinating subject matter and was hoping that this movie will give some insightful treatment into this. Sadly, none of these gets explored in detail in this movie. Instead what we get is a dramatization that is standard hollywood treatment – fancyful effects, stuff getting blown up, final showdown between man and machine, in which of course man wins.

Also I’m not sure how many people understood the concept of nano dust. Supposedly with advances in miniaturization, we will eventually be able to reduce and control micro machines as small as a dust particle. Extrapolate this in hollywood land and you get nano dust working in concert to become an invisible hand that comes alive. Build structures out of thin air? Check. Multiply and spread via the atmostphere? No problem. Resurrect people from the dead? Done. It seems nothing is impossible – the magical medical pod in Elysium is child’s play compared to this.

The ultimate solution to end this ultra intelligent machine/being is franking a tat disappointing. Surely the smartest machine would have figured out the possible attack vectors and make defences against it. Well, I guess that wouldn’t fit into a Hollywood ending.

Overall rating: 3/5

[Movie] Robocop (2014)

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IMDb link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1234721/

This 2014 remake of Robocop approaches the story from an interesting angle. We get to have a glimpse of the law-making process in the US and how mega corps manipulates their way into passing bills that benefits their bottom line – exploiting the media, using manipulative language (robophobic, ha!), bribes, clever marketing to swing public opinions and outright lies. This is the real drama. The other parts are pretty standard sci-fi – nothing groundbreaking. The casting didn’t really work for me here.

Overall rating: 3/5 stars

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Primary 6 Math?

K shared a pic he saw on fb, purportedly from a primary 6 math question:

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I saw the question when I just woke up and replied. It seem easy enough. However, after posting I immediately realized its wrong. The usual area subtraction tricks doesn’t seem to work. Well it seems obvious that it’s the area of 2 intersecting circles.

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The problem is I couldn’t recall learning any formula for it. I suspected that it involves geometry and trigonometry, but do they learn these things in primary 6? It bothered me enough to do a search and it turns out the following answer from Wolfram – which has this slightly threatening formula:

Equation 14

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Using the formula substituting r=4, R=8 and d=sqrt( 8*8 + 8*8 ), I got A = 1.727623528

Can someone verify if this is correct? Is there an easier way? Math teachers?

MIAM MIAM (repeat after me) MIAM MIAM

When my friend told me she would like to try out this new dining place that’s being publicised on the radio by KISS 92, I scratched my head. “It’s next to the newly renovated BHG!”  I was like “Where??”  Ok, I confess I am usually like a robot, who mechanically go to the same place for the same food for lunch. So it is not surprising that I have not noticed a new makan place budding in the area.

I have another confession:  I can hardly pronounce the name of the restaurant without repeating it at least twice 😦

MIAM MIAM….repeat after me….MIAM MIAM

The decoration is simple and it is in the open area at level 2 of Bugis Junction. The food they serve are typical French, Japanese cuisine.  I was attracted to the desserts at my first glance of the menu. Are you?

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The wait staff told us that if we exceeded $30, we will have a pancake FOC.  Much as we would like to order a choc soufflé, we decided to be prudent.  Everything on the menu looks good to me, not that I was hungry. I ordered the Miam Miam spaghetti and my friend ordered the lobster bisque pasta.  The staff told us we had to wait 15-20 mins for our food. My friend said the lobster was a bit tough. I was glad mine tasted to my liking. Not too heavy.  I’m not really a pancake fan. But I love this pancake. Fluffy and soft.

Overall, the place reminded me of Ambush and Platypus. All serve good food and have great atmosphere for gatherings. I would deem the price at Miam Miam is cheaper than Ambush and Platypus. Thumbs up!

burpZ!

Can’t see anything that’s Symmetrical

Symmetry is another typical “hole in the wall” cafe that recently popped out, according to K’s theory.  Indeed, it is inconspicuously located at Jalan Kubor.  An easier way of locating the cafe is to tell your friends that it is just next to the prominent landmark – Santa Grand Hotel at Bugis.

The moment I stepped into the cafe, I thought it was a lil too dark for my liking.  Unlike the name of the cafe, I couldn’t find anything that is symmetrical…hmmm…am I being dense to try associating the name with anything in the cafe? The crowd was mainly made up of youths (yes, I felt very out of place).  A quick observation – the staff here are not only young, the girls are also in super tight shorts* (Have all the guy readers woken up at this juncture? Haha)

*when i posted this on my FB, my guy friends immediately became interested about the (err…) place 

Back to the decoration, I was seated next to the window ledge and conveniently turned into a ‘photo whore’ 🙂

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What a happy coincidence, I have the same bicycle at home!

We ordered a scallop dish for starter and 2 main courses – steak and chicken. Frankly, I was very lost going thru’ the menu as the names of the dishes did not come out distinctly. Some of them have further descriptions and others, you just have to rely on your own imagination.  To play safe, I ordered the chicken.

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To our disappointment, we started with a WOW but that’s about it. The mains were not impressive. In fact, the chicken was a lil tough.

As one who seldom remembers price tags, this was one very memorable dinner for me. Friends whom I have shared this gastronomical experience with will hear the same from me – “1 starter, 2 mains, 2 drinks – $135!”  AND “The food is not fantastic!”

That left me wondering what else could be the omph factor for the survival of this cafe.  Maybe I shall ask my guy friends 🙂