Current Geek 45: Craft the Mines

Tonight on CurrentGeek: OMGChad joins us! The passing of Leonard Nimoy. That stupid dress and Llamas. Disney is bringing things back. Netflix too. The batsuit is real. Commanding things with your head. FCC does things. The Pebble is back. World peace not possible without war. Why is minecraft sooooo big still? All that and more!

DTNS 2439 – LLAP Mr. Nimoy

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comTim Stevens is on the show to chat about Tim Stevens world tour and the idea of Apple Watch controlling your car. We’ll also share a moment about how Leonard Nimoy affected our lives. And Len Peralta will be there to memorialize it all in song. Or art. Probably art.


Using a Screen Reader? click here


A special thanks to all our Patreon supporters–without you, none of this would be possible.

If you enjoy the show, please consider supporting the show here at the low, low cost of a nickel a day on Patreon. Thank you!

Big thanks to Dan Lueders for the headlines music and Martin Bell for the opening theme!

Big thanks to Mustafa A. from for the logo!

Thanks to our mods, Kylde, TomGehrke, sebgonz and scottierowland on the subreddit

Show Notes

DTNS 2438 – We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Net

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comJustin Young is in to talk about the US FCC’s vote to adopt new Open Internet Rules under a Title II classification for ISPs. Plus Jonathan Strickland joins to help us understand what the heck Title II is.


Using a Screen Reader? click here

Multiple versions (ogg, video etc.) from


A special thanks to all our supporters–without you, none of this would be possible.

If you enjoy the show, please consider supporting the show here or giving 5 cents a day on Patreon. Thank you!

Big thanks to Dan Lueders for the headlines music and Martin Bell for the opening theme!

Big thanks to Mustafa A. from for the logo!

Thanks to our mods, Kylde, TomGehrke, sebgonz and scottierowland on the subreddit

Show Notes

Today’s guests: Justin Robert Young and Jon Strickland


The US FCC voted 3-2 to adopt an order for new Open Internet Rules. Broadly the rules will enhance the existing transparency order and prevent blocking and discrimination under the authority of Title II of the Communications act of 1934. The new rules have not been made public. The FCC must receive and respond to dissenting statements from the commissioners who voted against the rules. Once that has happened the rules will be published in the Federal Register and will go into effect 60 days from the date of publication.

The US FCC also voted 3-2 to preempt state laws to allow the City of Wilson, North Carolina and the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, Tennessee to expand their existing gigabit broadband service to nearby towns where speeds offered are not as fast.

TechCrunch reports that Apple sent out invites today for an event at 10am on Monday, March 9th with the tagline “spring forward.” What in the world could they possibly be talking about on that day? Well Daylight Saving Time begins in the US on March 8, the day before the event so it could just be a really elaborate reminder to test smoke alarms and reset clocks. Or it could be the Apple Watch. And I guess it could also include MacBookAir or iPad updates to um, pad out the announcement.

TechCrunch reports Google launched a pilot program to allow app developers to advertise their apps in the Google Play store. Devs running Google search ads already can choose to have the ads also run against Play store searches. This would put their app at the top of the search result with a small ‘Ad’ button appearing under the App’s name. To start, the ads will begin running on the latest version of the Play store for a small number of smartphone users only.

ZDNet reports Docker’s orchestration services are now available to the public. Compose 1.1 and beta version of Machine and Swarm are all available for download. Machine lets any laptop, server or VM run Docker apps, Swarm clusters multiple servers into a single machine and Compose makes it easier to build a complex distributed app from a number of containers. This marks the evolution of Docker from one-off containers into a full platform. Docker has more than 30 partners including AWS, Google, IBM, Microsoft and VMware.

VentureBeat passes along news from Strategy Analytics that Apple’s estimated global smartphone operating profit reached $18.8 billion last quarter up 31% year over year making up 88.7% of the market. Android cashed in 4.8 billion for 11.3%. Careful mathematicians will note that adds to 100%. That means while Android dominates sales, Apple’s making all the money and no other platform is making squat.

Ars Technica reports on a blog post on indicating evidence of possible exploitations of the insecure certificates issued by Komodia as part of Superfish and other software. Researchers Joseph Bonneau and Jeremy Gillula found more than 1600 entries in the Decentralized SSL observatory of certs that should have been rejected but were accepted by Komodia. Some of the certs might have been invalid due to routine issues but the researchers felt it was unlikely all of them were.

News From You: 

melchizedek74 and KAPT_Kipper want us to know that if that Superfish news wasn’t enough of a headache for Lenovo, Engadget reports that was hijacked to show pictures of kids at computers with a link to a Twitter account claiming to represent the group Lizard Squad. In addition Ars Technica reports the DNS hijack was also able to intercept email before Cloudflare updated the MX records. Which basically means they took this hijack to the Max, Justin.

HobbitfromPA wanted us to make sure we mentioned the DroidLife story that Google Play Music has doubled its capacity from 25,000 songs to 50,000 all still at the low low price of nothing.

Discussion Section Links:–_2-26-15_VZ_Statement_on_Open_Internet_Order_FINAL_1.pdf


Pick of the Day:
Co-Executive Producer Biocow recommends Hola is a browser plug-in that creates a VPN through dozens of countries.

Hola was simple to instal and very easy to use. It creates a button in the browser which when clicked opens a nice interface that lets you scroll through countries and displays a small flag of the country you’re browsing through.

I used this on a Mac using FireFox but their site says they have solutions for Mac and PC, FireFox and Chrome and even Androids, iPhone and iPad.

Thursday’s guest:  Tim Stevens and Len Peralta


DTNS 2437 – Gemalto Says it’s Just SIM Antics

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comChris Ashley joins us to talk about whether we believe Gemalto when they say no SIM keys were stolen, and whether Microsoft plans to supplant Google on Android.


Using a Screen Reader? click here

Multiple versions (ogg, video etc.) from


A special thanks to all our Patreon supporters–without you, none of this would be possible.

If you enjoy the show, please consider supporting the show here at the low, low cost of a nickel a day on Patreon. Thank you!

Big thanks to Dan Lueders for the headlines music and Martin Bell for the opening theme!

Big thanks to Mustafa A. from for the logo!

Thanks to our mods, Kylde, TomGehrke, sebgonz and scottierowland on the subreddit

Show Notes

Today’s guest: Chris Ashley, co-host of the SMR podcast


Gemalto issued a press release today stating it detected two sophisticated intrusions in 2010 that it now believes could have been an operation by the US NSA and UK GCHQ as described in leaks from Edward Snowden. Gemalto is the world’s largest supplier of SIM Cards for phones. One intrusion was an attempt to intercept communication by employees in a French office and another was a phishing attempt on a mobile operator. Gemalto detected no breaches in its SIM Card database and does not believe the breach of office networks could have resulted in massive theft of SIM encryption keys.

ReCode reports The US District Court for the eastern district of Texas ordered Apple to pay $533 million dollars after being found guilty for patent infringement. The jury found Apple willfully violated three Smartflash patents in iTunes related to DRM, storage and access through payment systems. Smartflash lodged the suit in May 2013 in Cupertino California but was held in Tyler Texas where Smartflash is based. Apple had asked the jury to find the suit invalid because previous patent inventions covered the same technology.


Motorola’s new Moto E has LTE and a bigger screen for $149 The second-gen Moto E has a 4.5-inch (but still 540 x 960 pixel) display, 4G LTE networking, and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor. The removable backplate has been replaced by six colored bands that can be used to personalize the device. Other upgrades include a new 5-megapixel camera withautofocus, 8GB of internal storage, up from 4, and Android 5.0 Lollipop. Motorola also added its Quick Capture feature, which lets you launch the camera with just a twist of your wrist and the Active Display feature that wakes the screen up with notifications or when you pull it out of your pocket.

ZDNet reports Google unveiled an Android for Work program Wednesday which can establish work profiles on mobile devices. The program lets sys admins manage approved apps on the profiles and set up default encryption on Android 5.0 Lollipop devices. Employers can only manage work data and do not see personal data. Likewise users can add and remove apps at will on the personal side. Google is partnering with enterprise management firms to deliver the program, including Cisco, Salesforce, BOX and SAP among others.

Threatpost reports Google is making its bug-finding contest Pwnium a never-ending affair. Bug-hunters no longer need to wait for a security conference to cash in. Security researchers can submit bugs found in Chroium year round and Google will not place a limit on the number they will reward with cash money. In fact Tim Willis of the Chrome security team said the rewards pool “goes all the way up to infinity million dollars.” The bugs just have to meet the same criteria they always did. And winners have disclose all the details of the vulnerability along with the exploit.

Deep Q-network or DQN a product of Google’s DeepMind artificial intelligence program has successfully mastered 49 Atari 2600 games according to Ars Technica. Unlike previous AI game masters where information like rules for playing chess or trivia information was pre-loaded into the system, DQN taught itself how to play the games and win. Researchers modeled DQN’s AI on a trial-and-error behavior similar to humans and animals, and developed a process called “deep reinforcement learning”. By “remembering” past outcomes and its associated actions DQN was able to score about 75% of the points of a human game player. Games DQN successfully mastered include Breakout and space invaders but it failed at Ms Pac-Man and similar games that required planning and foresight.

CNET passes along the South Korean daily Donga News’ report that Amazon may open branch offices in Seou’s Gangnam area as early as next month. Amazon’s US carerres website lists several positions in Seoul and first-round interviews for 300 positions reportedly took place over the last week. That’s a challenge to local ecommerce heavyweights eBay Korea and Gmarket. At least it’s not Alibaba’s Tmall… Yet.

News From You: 

KAPT_Kipper sent us the news that the Eiffel Tower now generates its own power with new wind turbines. CNET reports that a pair of VisionAIR5 wind turbines designed by renewable energy specialist Urban Green Energy have been installed on the second level, about 122 meters or 400ft from the ground. The turbines have been painted to blend in with the Eiffel tower, and produce almost no sound. They can produce, a total of 10,000kWh per year — enough to power the tower’s first floor. The tower will also soon get LED lighting, solar panels, a rainwater collection system and high-power heat pumps. Not bad, giant iron tower built in 1889, not bad at all.

AllanAv submitted the Tom’s Hardware exclusive that A “source with knowledge of the matter” says the DirectX 12 will work much differently than older versions. For one the API will combine all graphic resources in one bucket and let devs divide up the workload as they wish. The upshot is reduced latency by reducing the frame queue to one or zero. The source also indicated that DirectX12 could work across multiple GPU architectures at once. Meaning you could build a system with a Geforce and Radeon working in tandem or even aggregating APUs with GPUs.

mranthropology passed along a Windows Central report that Microsoft will remove Google Chat and Facebook Chat support from in the next couple weeks. The People page in Outlook will stay updated with the latest contact information from Facebook and Google if you’ve connected them. Microsoft blames Google for discontinuing its Google Talk chat protocol. No word on why Facebook is getting the boot.

Discussion Section Links:


Pick of the Day:

Bill Russell writes: “I wanted to throw in another ISP speed test. TestMy.Net is a great alternative that I’ve been using since I read about the possibility that ISPs were prioritizing their packets to boost the numbers. TestMy.Net randomly generates the data that is sent so ISPs can’t even cache the data to deceive the meter.

One thing I really like about TestMy.Net is the ability to run repeated tests. You can set it to run once every 5 minutes for 100 repeated tests or every 24 hours for only 5 tests. This recently helped out a coworker that had a 60Mbps connection that was being slowed down every night around 11pm to the point that he couldn’t watch Netflix or play online games(less than 500kbps). He used TestMy.Net to show his ISP exactly when and how often this was happening and within a few weeks the ISP replaced hardware and now he’s getting his 60Mbps and sometimes more.”

Thursday’s guest:  Justin. Robert. Young.


S&L Podcast – #207 – Crowdfunding an Abomination with Gary Whitta!

Gary Whitta is an award-winning screenwriter who wrote The Book of Eli and worked on the first Star Wars standalone film. So when he had an idea for a dark historical fantasy story he wrote a book. Why? We ask him that, about successfully crowdfunding his novel, and much more on this episode! 

Direct download here!

Oh, and yes. We ask him about Star Wars too.

Abomination by Gary Whitta

Follow Gary Whitta on Twitter

DTNS 2436 – Stop– Pebble Time

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comPatrick Beja is in today, to marvel over the Pebble Time and its record-breaking Kickstarter. Is the Pebble bigger and/or better than the Apple and Android watches?


Using a Screen Reader? click here

Multiple versions (ogg, video etc.) from


A special thanks to all our Patreon supporters–without you, none of this would be possible.

If you enjoy the show, please consider supporting the show here at the low, low cost of a nickel a day on Patreon. Thank you!

Big thanks to Dan Lueders for the headlines music and Martin Bell for the opening theme!

Big thanks to Mustafa A. from for the logo!

Thanks to our mods, Kylde, TomGehrke, sebgonz and scottierowland on the subreddit

Show Notes

FEATURED REVIEW: Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb

Welcome to our Featured Reviews! In this series, we’ll be highlighting book reviews by the S&L audience. If you want to submit a review, please check out the guidelines here! -Veronica

Review by Emily Carlson

The Low-Down:
Robin Hobb is back, my friends. And for devotees of her epic fantasy series, Realm of the Elderlings, this is a very good thing. Fool’s Assassin is the much-anticipated continuation of the story of Fitz and the Fool, a pair of outcasts who struggle to save their beloved Six Duchies from near disaster. 

Fool’s Assassin opens while Fitz is enjoying his well-earned retirement. Things are finally peaceful and although he cherishes the quiet contentment of his life, Fitz struggles to accept that the need for violence is completely over. He still sequesters himself away from his loved ones, still keeps secrets like a compulsion, still can’t seem to let go of the intrigue – no matter how much he might like to. 

But when some suspicious coincidences start hinting of danger lurking outside Fitz’s rural, idyllic life, it seems it might be a good thing that Fitz has had trouble letting go of his past, because it certainly hasn’t let go of him. 

Key Themes
Country life, paranoia, fatherhood, A MURDER MOST FOUL, prophesy, creepy-crawlies, class, secret passageways, THE ULTIMATE DRAMA QUEEN

What’s Good 
Hobb is a master storyteller. Over the course of the last nine books, Hobb has honed her characters into realistically flawed, frustrating, and oh-so-lovable men and women.  Though the over ten-year gap between Fool’s Fate and Fool’s Assassin gnawed at many fans, the gap was deliberate. With such beloved characters and intricate plot, Hobb has been careful not to exploit them. That is the true triumph of this novel. Nothing here feels forced, nothing feels like Hobb simply wanted to capitalize off of her most recognized and well-loved series. Instead, Hobb has crafted a story that leaves you thinking, Of course! How could I have thought Fitz would fade into quiet retirement?? 

Hobb’s strength has always been her ability to make us care about her characters, and Fool’s Assassin fits right in with her previous books. Some of them have us tearing our hair and shaking the book in frustration, some have us cheering into the pages, but all of them feel fully realized. 

Furthermore, in a marked departure from her previous books staring Fitz, we are finally privy to more than one first-person narrator! Though I won’t reveal who this narrator is, I will say that it was a refreshing and exciting change that is probably going to prove necessary in her next novels. Hobb also builds on our feelings of dramatic irony in this book (everyone remember those high school English classes??) – the characters are intentionally a few steps behind the reader, creating delicious tension to put us all on the edge of our seats.

As another tasty tidbit, it seems that we may finally get a glimpse into the mysterious southern country The Fool hails from!

What’s Less Than Good
Though Hobb springs into action with hints of doom left and right, make no mistake – Fool’s Assassin falls victim to first-volume-in-a-trilogy-syndrome. Odd ends from the previous series and wrapped up. We build a detailed picture of Fitz’s current life. New threads of intrigue are introduced. But, just when the action is starting to get really exciting, we break for the new book. Fool’s Assassin is crucial to move the plot along, and that’s not all that it does, but it can feel frustrating to have so many questions by the end of the book. 

Furthermore, though Hobb always strives to have her novels and trilogies as self-contained as possible, readers with no experience in Realm of the Elderlings will be shortchanged by starting with this novel. Tearful reunions will make no sense, bittersweet partings won’t have their full effect. But that doesn’t mean this series isn’t worth it, it means those readers should look forward to this book at the end of finishing the previous nine books – because it is totally worth it. 

The Final Verdict
Hobb had a lot of expectations to live up to when she decided to continue the story of Fitz and the Fool. Such a beloved series is both a blessing and a curse to an author. However, Hobb rises to the challenge admirably. Although only time will tell if this series can capture the grandeur of her previous novels, Fool’s Assassin has all the hallmarks of a great new series. 

More than anything, Fool’s Assassin promises to capture our attention for her next novel in the series, and leaves us all slobbering for more. 

Fool’s Assassin: Book One of the Fitz and the Fool Trilogy


By Robin Hobb

2014 Nebula nominees announced!

Congrats to all the nominees! Lots of Sword & Laser reads and authors in the list, which is always exciting. The winners will be announced during Nebula Awards Weekend June 4th-7th, 2015 at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, Illinois.


The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)

Trial by Fire, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)

Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)

The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu ( ), translated by Ken Liu (Tor)

Coming Home, Jack McDevitt (Ace)

Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer (FSG Originals; Fourth Estate; HarperCollins Canada)


We Are All Completely Fine, Daryl Gregory (Tachyon)

Yesterday’s Kin, Nancy Kress (Tachyon)

“The Regular,” Ken Liu (Upgraded)

“The Mothers of Voorhisville,” Mary Rickert ( 4/30/14)

Calendrical Regression, Lawrence M. Schoen (NobleFusion)

“Grand Jeté (The Great Leap),” Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Summer ’14)


“Sleep Walking Now and Then,” Richard Bowes ( 7/9/14)

“The Magician and Laplace’s Demon,” Tom Crosshill (Clarkesworld 12/14)

“A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai’i,” Alaya Dawn Johnson (F&SF 7-8/14)

“The Husband Stitch,” Carmen Maria Machado (Granta #129)

“We Are the Cloud,” Sam J. Miller (Lightspeed 9/14)

“The Devil in America,” Kai Ashante Wilson ( 4/2/14)

Short Story

“The Breath of War,” Aliette de Bodard (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 3/6/14)

“When It Ends, He Catches Her,” Eugie Foster (Daily Science Fiction 9/26/14)

“The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye,” Matthew Kressel (Clarkesworld 5/14)

“The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family,” Usman T. Malik (Qualia Nous)

“A Stretch of Highway Two Lanes Wide,” Sarah Pinsker (F&SF 3-4/14)

“Jackalope Wives,” Ursula Vernon (Apex 1/7/14)

“The Fisher Queen,” Alyssa Wong (F&SF 5/14)

Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Edge of Tomorrow, Screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie and Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Guardians of the Galaxy, Written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Interstellar, Written by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan (Paramount Pictures)

The Lego Movie, Screenplay by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller  (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy

Unmade, Sarah Rees Brennan (Random House)

Salvage, Alexandra Duncan (Greenwillow)

Love Is the Drug, Alaya Dawn Johnson (Levine)

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future, A.S. King (Little, Brown)

Dirty Wings, Sarah McCarry (St. Martin’s Griffin)

Greenglass House, Kate Milford (Clarion)

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, Leslye Walton (Candlewick)