Mr Robot first two episodes review

As you know I recently wrote a review on the Netflix Originals show Narcos. Well it’s been a week since I finished that series and this weekend I decided to start another series. The one that caught my attention was Mr Robot, which seemed interesting. I was also considering to watch the second series of Fargo, which has extremely positive reviews, but right now I felt more in the mood for a conspiracy theory show.

The pilot was one that drew me into the show immediately. The story is centered around Elliot Alderson, who plays a consultant at a major cyber-security firm. He suffers from loneliness and depression, as well as social anxiety. It was refreshing to see a series about someone who is not your typical confident and alpha male protagonist.

The show is named ‘Mr Robot’, who you will find is actually a man that is part of a hacking group called fsociety. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll leave it at that.

The first two episodes, however, have been more about Elliot’s personal life and smaller issues than focusing completely on fsociety.

What will perhaps be most intriguing to the viewer is the extent of the hacking that Elliot is able to do. As is with other cyber crime stories, you are left wondering whether if there is someone out there who wants to access your data, could they really do it like they do on TV? I’m not sure, but the show definitely made me think about the issue, and also the issue of the government’s rights to our information, which is a hotly debated issue right now in the UK.

Overall I would highly recommend the show based off what I’ve seen, but remember I’ve only seen two episodes so far so I’ll be writing a full review when I’ve gone through the whole season.


The internet is the best learning resource ever

On Saturday I had Basketball practice. As I play at an amateur club we have a lot of people who joined the club primarily for social reasons, rather than play competitively. At the same time, we have some very good players who used to play at college or university. We are based in London, and we have some very good Spanish and Italian players in our club.

Anyway, one of my teammates was showing off his dunks before practice started. He definitely could not dunk when he started, and he is not tall for a Basketball player so I was wondering how he managed to learn how to dunk. He told me that he has been practicing a lot on jumping higher in his spare time, with online jump training that is supposed to make you a better jumper.

The program is called Vert Shock, and when I checked it out it seemed interesting. I guess it is like those home workout programs you can buy. Presumably, it works if you actually put time into doing it properly, but most people will fail in these kind of ambitions because they do not stick to the plan.

I do not plan to use the program as I can already dunk. I am tall but I have to say even for me dunking is not super easy, especially because I am not a very athletic person, but just one who has size on his side.

It did make me think about how people are able to obtain information online to make them better at doing things. I really feel this information age is interesting, as you can easily learn so many things that would have been almost impossible to learn before when you had no internet. Yes, there were books, but the amount of books out there is nothing compared to the amount of information that is available online – because the barrier to entry to publishing online is very low, and do not require you to have a publisher or have excellent writing skills.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of nonsense online, and it’s often better to get a good book or learn from someone in person. However, there is no denying that the amount of information available is completely insane. Since Youtube, there have been fantastic video courses which teach you almost anything.

Who knows how long before we begin to see learning take place in an interactive, virtual reality environment with the use of things like VR headsets? I am truly excited about how the digital world will transform our lives over the next few decades.


Does immersion for language learning work? I was visiting a friend in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Before I went, I thought it would be a good opportunity to try and learn Spanish, as what better way to actually practice the language than stay there?

I therefore studied one month in advance during my free time, using the Pimsleur cassettes, duolingo (this app is great especially for vocabulary) and some research online for the grammar. In this time I thought I had learned a lot. Certainly, given how it was completely new to me before that, I was able to comprehend texts for the first time and had a big list of vocabulary that I had learned.

However, upon arriving in Buenos Aires, it seemed I could not put my Spanish skills to any use. People spoke too fast, to the point where I was not able to process their speech and extract the meaning in a timely fashion that would give me a chance to respond unless they were incredibly patient. Furthermore, it was very hard to actually ‘recognise’ words in the beginning.

This was because although all the self-teaching I did beforehand, I wasn’t activating the parts of the brain involved in conversation. I’m no neuroscientist, but there is definitely a specific function of the brain to comprehend words that are delivered to you verbally and some function to make you put words together and then vocalise. The problem is that without practice, these functions are not used and therefore you will struggle to adapt to a Spanish speaking environment.

Despite this, after one month in Argentina I can say there was a dramatic improvement to my Spanish. I made friends with local people who could barely speak english, or equivalent to the amount of Spanish I could speak. Speaking with these people as part of a learning experience was incredibly helpful. You would both speak your native languages slower so you are much more likely to cause ‘sparks’ in your brain at words you can recall, rather than have the words pass over your head completely.

Also, your mind takes on a completely different state when you are talking with someone face to face. You are constantly put on your feet and required to be listening 100%, and always juggling between thinking about what to respond with and also interpreting what is being said.

So for me, immersion was something that helped immensely. I do think if you are serious about a language you need to do something similar, like go to a foreign country where they speak the language you are learning which will put your brain in overdrive and force you to learn without even ‘actively’ learning

So what do you do if you can’t take time off work or can’t afford a long holiday abroad? My personal advice would be to make sure you are having one on one lessons with a good teacher. I am now having these once a week in London and they are fantastic. Make sure they are one on one because otherwise you are not spending much time having a direct ‘conversation’ which triggers a special neural response.


Narcos TV Show Review

I have a Netflix subscription and I have been very pleased with their offerings. The Netflix Originals have often been top quality series that I enjoy watching. The ones I’ve watched recently are Daredevil, Sense 8, Orange is the New Black and finally Narcos, which is what I will be discussing today.

The series is based on a real story, that is, a story about two DEA agents who worked to bring the Medellin drug cartel and its leader, Pablo Escobar, to justice. The filming locations are fantastic, and they really capture what I imagine Colombia in that period to have been like. The series also regularly shows footage or images from real media during that period, which constantly serves to remind you that this is not fiction, but something that really happened.

Normally, I find it difficult to get ‘into’ a series. Sometime’s I’ll force myself to watch a few episodes if it’s recommended by friends, but if not there’s a good chance I’ll never go back to a show if the pilot does not grip me. In Narcos, which I had doubts about, this was not the case. The pilot episode has plenty of action, and leaves you wanting more. The casting is brilliant, and I especially liked Brazillian actor Wagner Moura’s portrayal of the infamous gang lord.


Pedro Pascal (Left) and Boyd Holbrook (right) are great, but Wagner Moura steals the show

The characters are deep, as you would expect from a story inspired by history. Pablo Escobar is not one dimensional. At times you actually have some sympathy, and he often displays a human side, especially compared to some of the other gang leaders who appear more ruthless and vicious. The series does a terrific job of making it clear he stood out from the rest. As far as operating a gang goes, he was clearly a genius. At the same time, towards the second half of the series, you realise how he has become corrupted by his fame and money, but also as a result of being shunned by the political elite.

The show is well paced, and I was constantly on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next. I knew very little about the story of the Medellin cartel, so the whole thing was a bit of a history lesson for me. Of course, I understand that the reality was probably very different, but nevertheless it is exciting to think about Colombia during that era. The show definitely opened my eyes to the seriousness of drug crime in Latin America, and the show did not hold back on the brutality of it – it often showed pictures of bodies that were actually taken from that period, which was striking.

Overall I would highly recommend this series to anyone who is looking for something to watch over the next few days or weeks. I have to say I was reluctant to go into it, as shows based on true stories can often appear dull at first. It also seemed a little ‘heavy’ for me in the beginning, but after watching it, it has shot up to become my number 1 Netflix original series so far.