Stack OverflowWhat's the most egregious pop culture perversion of programming?
[+200] [176] James A. Rosen
[2008-10-06 16:35:35]
[ untagged ]

I'm thinking along the lines of the virtual world representation in Hackers [1].

(2) OTOH, almost every coder I know loves Hackers for its glorious cheesiness. - Dana
Egregious perversion and glorious cheesiness can certainly go hand-in-hand :) - James A. Rosen
(4) HACK THE PLANET! - Nils Pipenbrinck
(2) My Mailserver was called "Gibson" for quite some time... - Michael Stum
Screensaver the planet! - tsilb
(55) Jurassic Park... two billion lines of code to look through to control the power? Well, I suppose that's about right if they're Agile. - tsilb
(1) HACK THE PLANET!! - Bryan Rehbein
(1) +1 to tsib about jurrassic park, lmao - Click Upvote
(1) I wish people would post more here... they are so entertaining to read! - alex
(7) Lately I've seen commercials where the programmer is writing code as fast as he can type. He write lines of code from the BOTTOM of the screen UPWARDS! Who writes code starting at the last line of the program working towards the first line of the program. Also, programmers now videochat about dates while they type. - Nosredna
(3) This is my fav question on Stack Overflow! - alex
(34) This is Unix... I know this. - akway
(11) @tsilb: dennis nedry (at least in the movie) was anything but agile. In any sense. - Adriano Varoli Piazza
(4) Oh no! Another no-votes-left day at SO xD - chakrit
(3) on a totaly related subject it actualy was unix on the jurasic park (IRIX) (moar… ) - João Portela
(1) ++1 for "egregious" ;-) - Mawg
(6) @akway, yeah actually it was. Everyone makes fun of Jurassic Park's "ridiculous fake 3D interface" even though they showed a REAL filesystem browser written by SGI. - Matthew Olenik
(2) @Brian Neal .. even better would have been to provide an inherently safe path between the control center and the power generation facilities. The people who deigned that compound should have been shot .. or eaten or whatever. - Peter M
egregious = "outrageously bad" - bobobobo
[+528] [2008-10-06 16:37:27] glenatron [ACCEPTED]

Uploading a virus from a Mac to an alien spacecraft in Independence Day.

(1) I've described that as "Being told a joke that was so funny, you'd die laughing --- even if you didn't understand the language it was spoken in." - James Curran
(108) But it was written in Java! So it was universal! ;-) - gabr
(1) I'm glad you mentioned this one. It's probably my favorite now that I remember it. I still love that movie, though :) - James A. Rosen
(16) And what's worse -- A.C. Clarke did the exact same thing in "3001". I can excuse loud movies for fan-boys, but Clarke should have known better. - James Curran
(2) "In the words of my generation: 'up yours!!!!'" - Kip
(78) Thank you gabr. Java: write once, crash everywhere. - Justsalt
(5) It's clear that he'd spent some time finding a stack buffer overflow exploit in their system. He probably used nmap and crafted a series of nops followed by a random number which crashed the stack. See, even aliens don't code perfectly. :) - Henry B
(2) But he wasn't supposed to be a programmer, was he? He was some kind of television technology expert, but I guess that those guys have godlike qualities in the eyes of scriptwriters. - Guge
(1) It was a MAC -- everybody knows they don't have viruses! - Michael Paulukonis
Yeah - and it only took a short while to code it, too. - Mark Brittingham
(23) I always thought that was a tribute to the original War of the Worlds, where a virus kills the martians. - Uri
(1) The "write one, crash everywhere" one was very good! - pyon
(4) not mention, calling the process , "giving it a cold :)" aaahhh.. the pleasures of watching actors say stupid things with all seriousness .. - shiva
(2) CERT Advisory CA-96.13 - Jared Oberhaus
(4) @Shiva, it is a reference to War of the Worlds, where the common cold killed off the aliens. - akway
(2) It's not Mac, he was running Windows on Bootcamp :) - Prashant C
(11) I'd point out that in ID4, for 50 years the labs at Area51 had a small navette. Although they were never able to turn it on (according to the movie) it is plausible that it has been checked to death, including its operating system (dumped from memory). It makes also sense that its OS is the same (although with lower capabilities) of the mothership (think WinXP and the Win server). As the kernel is probably the same, it is plausible that vulnerabilities have been found during the earthling audit, and are held somewhere in a dusty pile at Area51 labs, ready to be found and exploited. - Stefano Borini
A Mac running Bootcamp is still a Mac. - Alex
Reminds me of E.T.; as the doctors are cutting him up at the end, one of them says "he's got DNA!" Pretty unlikely, especially when you consider that DNA isn't even the only self-replicating molecule on Earth. - MusiGenesis
(1) I was just impressed that the alien ships were running Zmodem -- at the time ID4 came out, it was hard enough getting a Mac to talk to a PC (and bootcamp? that only runs on Intel macs -- ID4 came out in 1996, back in the days of 'System 7' (ie, before they even called it 'MacOS')) - Joe
Mac==PC for some values of Mac(hardware part of intel Macs), Windows!=PC - Roman A. Taycher
(3) There is a deleted scene (viewable in the director's cut) where the doctor at Area 51 (Brent Spiner!) explains to Jeff Goldblum's character how the signal between the ships work. - Vivin Paliath
@Stefano: O_o ! - Ben Zotto
(1) @Guge: He also was a MIT graduate...the other famous MIT graduate I know can handle Shotguns, Rocketlaunchers and Crowbars like he was doing nothing else in his life. ;) - Bobby
(1) @Bobby: That may have been due to Black Mesa's athletics program. I believe it was mentioned in passing at the beginning of the first game. - JAB
[+403] [2008-10-06 18:26:26] MikeJ

I am always bothered by the Infinite resolution of bitmaps. Take a digital picture. Zoom in so that it pixelates. Then they "sharpen" the image and voila! out of pixelation, the killer, thug, spy, license plate etc. appears out of digital magic.


(4) yes...unterminated loops of "zoom. enhance." - Ben Collins
(2) I love especially when it's from a security camera on the other side of the building and they can encance to see that he has a tattoo of a snake on his riht arm. I want to work for that company cuz they obviously have cash to spare if that's what they're using for security - Fry
Just last night this was in a law and order rerun. They had the ATM security camera (the ones that are worst than the cellphone), and they zoomed enough to get the medallion number of a cab on the street - Uri
Hahahhahahhh I see this so often - alex
(13) It's all because of the ESPER photo analyzer in Blade Runner. Nobody non-technical grasped that this wasn't just something you could automatically do with any image, that it was science-fictionally possible because of the data embedded in an analog photograph. - chaos
(24) My wife and I actually have a running joke regarding this. Any time a crime-show or movie shows a blurry image, we instinctively suggest they "enhance that," which they always do ;) Might as well "re-render that black photo with sunlight, get me a reverse angle, and remove his mask...that's him!" - Sampson
(3) I heard about a real break-in case where the building owner looked at the pixelated security footage and said, "The CSI guys should be able to enhance that picture and we'll see his face." - Michael Kristofik
(7) There's actually a moment in some NCIS episode where one of the non-techies asks for this and the techie says, "there's no substitute for high-resolution source images" or something to that effect. FTW! - James A. Rosen
ST:TNG gave us the reverse of this - unnecessary zoom - the spaceship was clearly visible on screen and the captain calls for Magnify! doh! we got to the point of requiring a slug of beer when it was requested. - MikeJ
(106) Don't knock it. This is exactly how physicists are discovering new subatomic particles. They take a picture of an apple with a Nikon CoolPix and Zoom, Enance, Zoom, Ehance... LEPTONS! - JohnFx
(18) This is no longer as far-fetched as it once seemed. Several research groups are working on advanced DSP techniques. At Rice University they are working on a 1-pixel digital camera that (currently) has the effective resolution of a 256x256 pixel camera. During the Pathfinder mission, JPL programmers were able to combine two seemingly-identical photos and increase the resolution by doing sub-pixel enhancement. These aren't as extreme as in the movies, but it sure is interesting! - Barry Brown
(5) @Barry, you are talking about storing a larger picture in a small picture, NOT the other way around. You can't get extra information from a picture (1 pixel is 1 pixel). - akway
(1) And the zooming in really does work with analog, right down to the molecule. - akway
@akway yeah, the zooming. The enhancing doesn't because the picture is already fixed. You can't get more quality, only a bigger pic. - Tordek
(2) The subpixel technique is actually pretty cool. From multiple images at low resolution, slightly moved apart, you can interpolate much better the non present pixels, obtaining a much higher resolution and sharper image. - Stefano Borini
(42) I was amazed when, in The Bourne Identity, the police in Zurich zoom on the license plate on the security camera BUT, FOR ONCE, DON'T ENHANCE the picture. They just try and read the number from a big, blurry picture. That was relieving. - Olivier 'Ölbaum' Scherler
(1) actually, I was really amazed when I zoomed into the eye of a child in a photo I did during a wedding. There's actually a reflection of mine you can see there. Of course you can't see who's there and the quality of a dslr is a lot better than those security cams. But at least it stretches the reality only a little bit. - Tobias Langner
(2) It works because they say "Enhance". It's a magic word, you know. - Adam Luchjenbroers
(3) Actually, check this link out: L1-Minimization makes this entirely possible Astounding really. - BenAlabaster
(3) Although, this mockup of the technology is far more amusing:… - BenAlabaster
(2) You have got to see the Red Dwarf spoof on the zoom to infinity! It is incredibly funny! - aaaa bbbb
One of the new Futurama episodes makes a good joke about this. - alex
@alex, you beat me to it. I was about to mention the Futurama jab at CSI. - Igor Zevaka
(1) @Igor Yeah, I found that really funny personally. I managed to find it on YouTube. - alex
@Mike: You mean you don't like looking at starships up close? - JAB
[+295] [2008-10-06 16:36:45] Craig

Visual basic GUI in CSI [1]. Pure pain.


That clip is the first thing I thought of when I saw the question. Second thing I thought of is why was this voted down? - Rob Allen
(2) WTF @ that scene. A GUI helps you track IP addresses now? Nice. - Thomas Owens
(4) Since I dislike all the CSIs, I never saw this until you linked it. This ... is ... just ... abysmal. Sigh. - James A. Rosen
(3) nslookup and tracert are for n00bs. vb gui ftw! - Kip
(6) That clip made Coke go up my nose. She's so earnest about it too! - Mark Biek
(29) I say this at work every time I have to do some kind of IP research. Fabulous. - Electrons_Ahoy
EWWW. Retinal scaring... - Ellen Teapot
(4) That's the funniest movie I've seen all day. - Dean Rather
(8) Well I almost choked on my coffee. - Jacob T. Nielsen
(2) I saw that clip on TV while surfing a few weeks back. I missed the next 5 minutes of the show I was laughing so hard. - Greg D
wow.... just - wow..... - Fry
(1) i saw the clip but i don't get what's funny? - Click Upvote
LMAO this is the best!!! - krebstar
The video has been removed :( - Ronny Brendel
(1) can we just kill the scriptwriter? please :P - Sujoy
(2) Do you think somebody payed them to mention VB? Is this some sort of clever product placement? - Avish
(3) @Thomas Owens : GUI helps you track IP addresses now? yes don't you know that visual basic 6 can do everything i created a gui application that takes photos without a camera ! :D - Hannoun Yassir
(2) That was just so retarded it hurts me. - akway
(7) @Yassir : You can actually take photos without a camera, just need a CRT and some very tricky low level code to read the feedback from the CRT monitor, though it can only see things a few centimeters away. Good old hardware hacks - Grant Peters
(3) In NCIS (or something) was some talk that tracking IP`s are dependent on icon placement on desktop. - Arnis Lapsa
(1) This is probably the best thing ever. - deeb
(2) You were right: actual, physical pain from watching that. She must have been using Visual Basic 5 : GUI IP-Address-Tracker Creation Edition. - MusiGenesis
(6) Course if she'd said c# y'all would think it was cool - kjack
(1) That's just cringe-worthy. - robinjam
@Grant Peters: Was that sort of thing ever used to enhance user input, sort of like a touchscreen but without actually having to touch the screen? I know they have technology that can do that these days, but before technology made for that purpose existed, was such a thing ever done using the technique you described? - JAB
(1) I am now dumber for having watched that. - YWE
[+203] [2009-07-30 12:23:04] zeroDivisible

In polish soap opera "Brzydula", one of main characters was writing e-mail in MS Paint:

alt text

(28) That's just awesome! - Colin Mackay
(3) lol, brilliant! - Bayard Randel
(1) There's a polack joke in there somewhere ;) (I'm a pole, don't shoot!) - typeoneerror
oh c l a s s i c - Cruachan
(1) hahahahahahaha I'm literally rofl - Carlo
(5) What? I do that all the time :P - alex
(7) +1 for making me laugh out loud - Kevin Laity
(3) The producers could not afford an Office 2007 license on that PC. - splattne
@splattne: or they could've just opened up notepad, woulda made more sense. - Omar
Neat trick! :-) - RobH
but its possible, and I wouldn't be suprised if some computer dumb person somewhere did that at least once. - Roman A. Taycher
(1) I saved that in my "funny pictures I find on the internet" folder. - mmacaulay
(15) I use photoshop for my emails. - DMin
Funniest of the funny! - edthix
(1) I particularly like how they put a screenshot of Outlook into Paint, and write into the white area. This would not have been possible with just Notepad :) - OregonGhost
[+191] [2008-10-06 18:35:47] Larry

In Mission Impossible, an electronic transfer of a big amount of money takes as long as a big file upload. It takes so long that it requires a progress bar...

When in fact it takes almost exactly the same amount of time for a small transaction. - Brad Gilbert
Most electronic transactions take longer than very large file uploads since they queue up the transactions and probably have to do paperwork for each transaction (requiring a human coming into work the next day) for audit purposes. - Jared Updike
Maybe a small transaction would also take the same amount of time. When I use my credit card it always takes a while to complete. Adding a progress bar is probably a good idea (though it would probably be a non-determinate progress bar because the system is only waiting for acknowledgement). - thomasrutter
(11) Same thing happened in Swordfish. - JohnFx
(10) How long you think the gnomes in underwear take to move so much money from one account to another? A HUGE PROGRESS BAR LONG - Francisco Aquino
Perhaps big money transfers are encoded in UTF-2^64 - Decko
(2) My favorite in Mission Impossible was typing "SEND JAMMING SIGNAL" into a laptop to jam someone's cell phone. - Joel Mueller
@Joel Mueller: Yeah, that violates FCC regulations! - JAB
(2) @JohnFx: In Swordfish it was a divide & conquer algorithm of taking x dollars and zipping them through all sorts of accounts to "make it untraceable" while that's still a load of bull, at least it was an operation with 1000's of steps that would require some factor of time. - Aren
In the UK, BACS transfers take several days to process. - Fahad Sadah
[+175] [2008-10-06 17:23:48] Sergio Acosta

I hate how many movies and tv series equate hacking with 'password guessing'.

Apparently a good hacker is the one who can guess the password for a government mainframe computer in 4 or 5 attempts.

And every time the hacker tries a password and fails, he somehow knows that he is 'closer' to guessing the right one.

(43) and they wont captcha him after invalid logons - Midhat
(50) Well, he is closer in the sense that $COMBINATIONS-1 < $COMBINATIONS. - Kirk Strauser
@Just Some Guy: well, you have a valid point there. - Sergio Acosta
and the fact that everyone uses the name of their dog, etc as a password. Seriously wtf? - olliej
(13) @olliej - I named my dog "RDkqf7G5o9FhyLBX", or "RDkqf7G" for short. Doesn't everyone use pwgen? Or at least a UUID? - Kirk Strauser
Once the general theme is guessed, they enter it correctly on the first attempt. Sometimes it's a name that could have multiple spellings but was only overheard. Case never seems to be an issue. Whether to use the first name, alias, full name, or middle name never seems to be an issue. - CrashCodes
@CrashCodes: Hacker. - Ali
(9) This is played to great comic effect in Peep Show, where Mark guesses his girlfriends password - "Sex and the city?... No. Ah, I bet she thinks it's Sex IN the city... bingo!" - Iain
(1) The greatest question I ever saw used on password reset was "Who did your wife cheat on you with?" The answer was multiple people first and last names. - wonderchook
(2) There's a version of this in Watchmen: "smartest man in the world" Ozymandias has password-protected his global conspiracy with "RAMSES" (a translation of his name) - Chris Conway
I reckon you'd be surprised how many normal (non-programmer) people do use easily guessable passwords. The idea that it is a sure bet for any given account, however, is fiction. - thomasrutter
"Oh, I remember how this ends. It turns out the secret code is the same nursery rhyme he told his daughter!" -- Homer Simpson - DisgruntledGoat
(1) I kinda agree, but I must also say that the password research sequence is my favorite in Wargames. But this was the original, and it's filmed in a way that it doesn't actually look simple. - J S
(2) A good hacker is often a good social engineer, however. - akway
(6) The best is the "override" command that must exist in every system. If you cant acceess a resource, just enter "override" after the "access denied"-prompt. - Stefan
(3) Erm, except that this is largely true... I remember a case of someone auditing the FBI's security, and guessing the FBI-director's password in under an hour... - BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft
[+168] [2008-10-06 17:41:39] David

My peeve: How EVERY computer makes a sound for EVERY character displayed on the screen along - never mind flashing, for example, EVERY fingerprint on the screen when trying to 'match' the print pulled off of some evidence.

Can you imagine working in a room full of non-stop beeping computers?

And if you're doing an investigation, wouldn't you be angry at the programmer who thought that the program should take the time to display all those fingerprints that DON'T match? I can see the cop thinking "Oh yes, keep me waiting while you show me everything I DON'T want - why not just text me when you get a match?"

(18) Every time I see the fingerprints flashing on CSI, I think, "There's an opportunity for optimization. I think I'll apply to write software for the FBI." - Bill the Lizard
(13) No kidding - if you simply eliminate the displaying of non-matching images, you could speed things up by several orders of magnitude. They'd think you were a programming god. - Graeme Perrow
(11) You guys don't get it. It is an user experience feature so the cop doesn't go all confused 'Is this thing working or what?' =) - Sergio Acosta
(5) I have written software for police officers in the past, and Sergio raises a very good point. :-) - Graeme Perrow
Beeping: Sinclair ZX80 chiclet keyboad. - Peter Wone
(1) UI feedback for cops: looking at mugger photos in a copshop I tired of the officer's UI fumbling, took the keyboard and whizzed through at speed, occasionally going backward. Afterwards he made me write down the Powerpoint shortcuts. Knowledge of this later helped his career, I kid you not! - Peter Wone
(59) I'm sure that the programmer just optimized by showing the same three fingerprints in a loop to give the appearance of progress until the match is found. :) - Alex Miller
(3) Now you can enjoy this sensation at home! - Ch00k
(2) @Sergio and Alex: that's pretty correct, hah. I once added a log window which would display random debug messages while a program was running, and everybody thought it sped up by 2 or 3 times - Claudiu
(1) @Peter - so we're down to fighting crime with Powerpoint now? - GalacticCowboy
My new HTC incredible did that, well it vibrated for every key. I guess they took their cues from Hollywood. Luckily they had a way to turn that off. - JohnFx
[+162] [2008-10-06 16:39:24] Craig

"Unix, I know this" - Lex from Jurrasic Park.

(24) Except the interface that she "knew" was really a program on an SGI demo disk. After the movie came out, I installed it on my Irix. - Paul Tomblin
I was going to say the same thing. I thought it was simply a demo of visualizing the OS structure but never used in real production. - crystalattice
Wasn't it actually from the sequel to JP? "Lost World", perhaps? - Will Dean
@Will Dean, No, that was near the end of the original movie. - Bill the Lizard
The machines actually in use for most of the movie were Macs, too - though they don't admit it. And, of course, the fact that they changed the geek from the brother to the sister (compared to the book). - warren
And why not to mention the "Thinking Machine" empty computer full of blinkenlights? - Myrrdyn
They pasted an SGI logo on a Mac laptop at one point in the movie. And the program was called Fsn (pronounced Fusion). I used it for quite a while and LOVED it. Made it so easy to clean off disk space uickly... - Brian Stewart
I think she says, "It's a Unix System. I know this!" - Hugo
(1) I think she said 'Linux' not 'Unix' - Click Upvote
(10) No, she said Unix. - Imran
(1) The program was FSN ( ). If you are running Unix/Linux you can install FSV ( ), it's spiritual successor. - DavidGR
The script was fine, it was totally plausible that it was a Unix based system so she knew her way around it. The real WTF was just the visuals that were put in afterwards by someone else, not realising that they were destroying the whole factual accuracy. - thomasrutter
(2) @thomasrutter factual accuracy? Given that its a film about genetically engineered dinosaurs I'll let the accuracy slide ;) - TWith2Sugars
(7) The funniest thing for me in that film is the time marker moving along in the quicktime video of the supposed live camera feed. - dlamblin
(2) She definitely said "Unix" not "Linux" - "This is Unix, I know Unix" XD - TabbyCool
(2) I believe the computer also had an Apple logo visible, and the screen showed the Windows C:\ prompt - eds
[+144] [2008-10-07 23:42:15] Oddthinking

Definitely the episode of NCIS where they play a duet on a computer keyboard.

The lab technician was typing furiously to try to stop a hacker who is attacking her computer in real-time. However, she is losing the fight, so her colleague joins her to help her out - by typing furiously on the same keyboard at the same time.

Surely the keyboard isn't such a rare and mysterious technology that 90% of the viewing audience can't see that this is ridiculous?

(5) lmfao, do you have a link / name of the episode? - Click Upvote
(2) I'd love to watch this. - Roberto Bonvallet
(1) I have to see that too. - Sylverdrag
(37) Sadly they've done this more than once. But whats better is that while they were both losing their "fight" against the hacker, the boss who doesn't even know how to use a computer just walks up and unplugs it. - Brandon
(8) Ridiculous. Oh dear, now I know why my pair programming sessions have been so unproductive.. - Daniel M
(7) @Click The first time they typed together was in episode 1.22 A Weak Link Abby "Can't you type any faster?" McGee "Not unless I grow another arm." Abby "Here, let me." She then wraps her arms around his shoulders and types with him on the same laptop. He looks up at her and smiles. This is the first but not the last time they type together like this. And the episode mentioned in this anwser is 2.05 The Bone Yard. Source: - Pascal Thivent
I MUST SEE THIS - davidosomething
They do the exact same thing in Criminal Minds, my mother, after seeing this, asked if I could do that too :) simply brilliant. - Trufa
[+133] [2008-10-06 18:57:12] Kevin

In "Enemy of the state", they have a store's security camera video. Captured on the video is Will Smith walking with a bag. They not only do the classic "zoom in and sharpen", but they have some super-advanced program that allows them to ROTATE the bag and see what the other side of the bag looked like and are then able to determine that he had a gameboy in the bag based on that shape.

It's even more amazing when they do the same thing with satellite images.

(17) While the depiction in EotS was sensationalized, what they portrayed is in fact possible. - Dour High Arch
(5) That was a TurboExpress, not a GameBoy. Fanboy alert! - Robert S.
(3) I don't recall that anyone was illuminated pixel-by-pixel by a projected light source in that scene, but that paper is pretty damn cool. This is a horrible scene, though. I haven't seen it in years, and only saw it once, but remember it well... - PeterAllenWebb
second the Turboexpress, quite a harkening to the old days; glad at least it wasn't a Gameboy - Overflown
(3) I was in college doing my CS degree at the time that movie came out. We always joked that there must have been a library full of ridiculous functions named things like rotate_bag(). To this day between friends we will joke about writing the rotate_bag() enhance() or calculate_step_two() functions. - OrionRobillard
rotate_bag(); enhance_protruding_object(); return 'TurboExpress'; - alex
Also, I'm not too familiar with the TurboExpress, but is there a video format that could be easily inserted into it's cartridge slot. Doesn't Will Smith's character have some secret video on some cartridge (somehow?) that he shoves into it? - alex
I actually LOVE that scene. Also, it's probably (somewhat) possible if you have multiple cameras from different angles. I mean, you can create 3D-models with photographs from different angles, too: There was a Microsoft Research project a while bag where they actually did that. - mrueg
This is basically what Microsft's Project Natal is working towards. Also, in the movie, they explicitly stated that all the computer could do was make an educated approximation, and it wasn't necessarily accurate by any means. - Dolph
I have a calculate_step_two() function in my proyect... I now feel adhemed. (although, I have calculate step 3, 4...) - Random
(1) The paper Dour High Arch refers to requires a very special light source that goes through a wide sequence of specific variations rapidly and variations on that theme are how MRIs and sonograms have worked for years (general area is called Tomography). Improving the resolution of an existing image is called blind deconvolution and obviously can't be done perfectly. Whats described in the movie above is way beyond anything we are close to being able to do. (Effectively the information would have to be recomposed from the changes in lighting on other surfaces in the scene) - John Robertson
[+120] [2008-10-06 16:47:21] Adrian

Dan Brown - Digital Fortress.....

(4) Man, now I have a new favorite pick. I'd forgotten about this dreadful book. - James A. Rosen
So sad that I can upvote only once... - Treb
Terrible book - "COMMANDER!!!" - Rob Allen
omg, ur kidding. I bought it in hopes it would be good. I was hoping it would be awesome like Prey by Michael Criton - J.J.
(1) I had to laugh when the super modern language used to create encryption algorithms was described to be a combination of C & Pascal. Even better though, was that I listened to it on an audio book and the guy pronounced it Pasqual. - Ferruccio
(2) Ahh, a book about encryption, by an author who clearly knows nothing about encryption. - SpoonMeiser
Digital Fortress doesn't count. it's an egregious pop culture perversion regardless of programming. I blame the editors. They should have been ashamed of themselves. Shudder... - reefnet_alex
If you thought that Digital Fortress was bad, you should've read his book about aliens under the polar cup. - ADEpt
(8) I you can manage to turn off your geek snobbery.. Digital Fortress wasn't that bad of a book from an entertainment standpoint. - mmcdole
True enough - it must have been entertaining enough because I did finish reading it... Then again, maybe I just enjoyed seeing how bad Dan Brown could mangle tech... - Toybuilder
(12) No, we can't turn of our geek snobbery. We wouldn't be REAL geeks then, would we? - JesperE
(66) Dan Brown books seem good until you actually know something about what he is writing about. - Brad Gilbert
(1) Top NSA bods and it takes them about 40 pages to come up with the number 3.... - Carl
Oh gosh, I got stuck once on a place with only this book to keep me company. I loved how the chief NSA math genius becomes a damsel in distress in like three seconds. - Uri
Graphics lines depicting the hackers' progress through the firewall. @Treb - definitely, so sad. - orip
(21) I'm sorry you ever felt that Dan Brown seemed like a good author. - Eric
(3) To be fair, like Brad Gilbert said, his books are enjoyable enough reading when you don't know the subject the book relies on. I could suspend enough knowledge of physics and catholicism to enjoy angle & demons, but digital fortress was just painful. - KTC
(1) I'm proud to say I never read his Books - Bob The Janitor
the first book of his I picked up was this one, after 10 pages in I dropped it and never touched any of his books ever again. - z -
(2) @Carl: what's even worse is that 3 is not even the correct answer... - R. Martinho Fernandes
What a horrible book, I could not listen after the first CD because of the factual errors, and Family Guy has better character development. My full review here: - Ed Griebel
Thanks for including such a detailed explanation about why this book is so bad (sarcasm, of course). - Ponkadoodle
[+102] [2008-10-06 16:40:31] Dana

Basically every episode of CSI or CSI:Miami.

Every time a tech is looking at a grainy digital photograph and their supervisor leans over their shoulder and says, "Adjust and enhance!"

(1) Even worse is when they get an image from a $50 security camera and then enhance the image to the point where they can recognize a person or license plate in the reflection off of someone's eyeball. - Graeme Perrow
Oh god, I remember that episode. Grainy security camera photo of a car from across the parking lot and they read the ID on the parking pass of the murderous college processor 0_o - Dana
(11) It'd be nice if we could zoom in like that. We could just point a 35mm disposable camera at the sky and zoom in on it to see cosmic background radiation. No need for multi-million-dollar Hubble telescopes! - Kip
with some digital photo enhancement techniques you can sorta do that... not to the detail on tv, of course, but what do you expect: they have to solve the crime in 42 minutes - warren
(83) Don't you mean, "Adjust," --puts on sunglasses--, "and Enhance!" YEEEEAAAAAHHHH!!!! - Bill the Lizard
(6) Imagined conversation between technical advisor and writer: Advisor: "This is not possible." Writer: "Well, you CLEARLY haven't seen Blade Runner." - Electrons_Ahoy
those evil, evil murderous college processors... they go after anyone with a bit of cache... - SquareCog
LOL @Dmitriy ... beautiful! I knew comments were worth reading. :D - Marc Reside
(2) LOL @ Bill the Lizard! - Rich
(1) Aptly mocked in Super Troopers: "'Enhance. Enhance. Enhance.' 'Just print the d&*m thing!'" - bill weaver
You can sort-of do that, if you use multiple slightly different images. It is impossible to do that with a single image. - Brad Gilbert
(14) There should be a fake stackoverflow site for CSI developer where they can ask questions like "how do I make the CImage control show .adjusted=true and .enhancement=maximum by default" - Hafthor
Deep Zoom and google street view might change the game for CSI UI design :P - Crippledsmurf
[+86] [2008-10-06 18:31:40] Matias Nino

When you see a projection of a computer screen on a user's face. A crime against both computers AND physics!

...AND the user's eyes! - schonarth
I'm not sure I get this one - Matt Mitchell
It's even worse when you see it in binary. - Brad Gilbert
Jurassic Park in the Computer room on the Raptor's face at the end!! I love it! Who's got scrolling binary projecting randomly in their control center? seriously! - Fry
Also features in Alien, projected onto Ripley's face. - Steve Melnikoff
@Fry, maybe its a cool screen saver? - James McMahon
I have seen a photo of exactly this effect used on someone's bio. You guys just don't go back far enough to the days of bright mono screens with black backgrounds. - Andy Dent
(2) In a comic book style movie like the Matrix or something, this adds to the visual style, and is not annoying. It's like a style you associate with that genre. With a movie that is supposedly realistic, however, it is stoopid. - thomasrutter
Very good point tomasrutter. Style communicates information that would otherwise be lost a "realistic" expression. - Matias Nino
(10) Obligatory XKCD link: - MatrixFrog
The first time I realized this is not realistic was when I saw The Matrix. The first scene is where Neo sleeps in front of his computer. - Kriem
(3) A very oily face could reflect quite a bit. I used to play counterstrike with a guy at work. We would take over a conference room and play with the lights off. I would throw flashbangs, and I could tell if I got him or not based on how much his face lit up :) - Jason Coyne
But thanks to glassy screens at least now you can see the opposite! - EFraim
@Fry: If I remember correctly, it's actually not binary, but genetic sequences. At least it's not totally random :) - OregonGhost
[+82] [2008-10-06 16:53:48] James Curran

How every computer in the world will accepts English language full-sentence commands ("TRANSFER PAYROLL HALF-CENTS TO ACCOUNT OF JOE SMITH") provided they are typed in all-caps.

(2) Also love when there's a progress bar for transferring money, as though it transfers it a dollar at a time. - Dana
Ocean's Thirteen: When they "hack" the FBI information on the guys and they send it to Al Pacino by typing "SEND TO WBANK" - MattC
must be an extended edition of SQL - which people think has to be entered in all-caps - warren
It's gotta be ALL CAPS, otherwise how would the computer know that's an ORDER? I COMMAND YOU TO DO IT! DO IT, DAMN IT! Maybe if I go back to C=64 BASIC, the machine would do my bidding and I'd have less bugs! - Mauricio Scheffer
(81) dude. its just COBOL. cmon. - Nicholas Mancuso
Eh, you could make a DSL to do that. Not that really a "perversion." - BobbyShaftoe
(8) Actually that resembles what is considered good style in SQL - popcnt
hehe, all movies are stuck in COBOL days. ADD 1 TO VOTES - thomasrutter
This is an example of the very hip "DSL" term. Just ask any MS employee about "Oslo". - JohannesH
+1 just for the COBOL comments lolz! - chakrit
[+82] [2008-10-06 17:49:19] Christopher Klein

Mr Scott whipping up the formula for 'Transparent Aluminum' on an old mac classic from Star Trek IV: The voyage home.

alt text [1]


(15) Computer? Computer?! Keyboard. How quaint. +1, love that scene :) - Michael Stum
(3) In today terms, is like you were able to hack a payroll system in cuneiform script on clay tablets... - Myrrdyn
I loved that scene too! But Bones was showin' some age there... - Brian Stewart
'Hello, computer!' - Treb
how did my reply get hijacked :( - Christopher Klein
(7) How is it he is fool enough to think the mouse is a microphone, but the next minute is using the keyboard seeming to know, like an experienced user, just what to type? - DarenW
Also note that the computer seems very responsive, even though computers at the time wouldn't be able to keep up. - Brad Gilbert
(15) Uh. I think this scene is supposed to be funny... - PeterAllenWebb
(1) Not only does he use the keyboard, but he types like 240wpm! - JohnFx
(3) Mocking Star Trek that's Blasphemy :) don't forget when Kirk Build a Bazooka from bamboo charcoal, etc, and it worked, with out going into specifics it's not that easy, trust me - Bob The Janitor
CLASSIC!....... - Gary Willoughby
@Bob - They actually did this on Mythbusters and proved, just as you say, that it is very difficult if not impossible. Busted, in fact. - HitLikeAHammer
(1) Do not question The Kirk lest ye be questioned!! :-) - Ed Griebel
We all know that Captain Picard is the superior officer. - Daniel Rikowski
Nothing impossible about this one. and somebody clacked out the details on a computer before it was done, no doubt. - Will
I often do this when my computer misbehaves. My coworkers are sufficiently weird that they don't find this unusual. - Bayard Randel
[+82] [2008-10-07 15:38:16] user3891

Good looking programmers.

Example: Angelina Jolie as a the nerd hacker, in "Hackers"

(18) I don't know what your talking about, I'm good looking, aren't I? - Brad Gilbert
(8) Me too. I'm downvoting. - Micah
(3) you're a huge ***ing idiot. downvoting - Click Upvote
(19) someone hit a nerve - John
(1) Upvoting to counter a rather uptight downvoter ;) - johnc
(2) Geeks are sexy dont you know? geek chic is in - Neil Aitken
Made me laugh =D - Sam152
(1) Yeah, if they want good looking programmers - they can hire real ones, no need for "actors"... - Asaf R
I honestly hope that was irony. - Ed James
(5) if you responded with a down vote, yes it dose apply to you, now go back down in your mom's basement and play some more D&D - Bob The Janitor
(1) Upvote to counteract the lack of sense of humour of some inidividuals :P - shylent
(3) Am I the only person in the world who thinks Hackers was the only movie where Angelina Jolie was actually hot? Seriously, she looks like she's made out of plastic. - tsilb
If you disagree with this answer, I highly suggest you look at the cover of any Programmer to Programmer series. It's like attractiveness of the programmer is inverse to his potency in programming. What a crippling curse programming must be. (Apologies if anyone reading this writes for them!) - Eddie Parker
Not 100% correct, as in the hottest guy (I have made research of this) is the best hacker. Also the girl is pretty hot. - Random
(1) Not all programmers sport the notorious sandals-with-socks with matching neck-beard. Although most of them do. - Evan Plaice
hahahaha... Funny, though I disagree. I'm gorgeous. Just sayin'. - Dian
I actually think the people who upvoted to counteract the "downvote" comments didn't get that the downvote comments were themselves jokes. Either that or I'm giving some people a little too much credit? - Dan Tao
Oh and by the way, -1 because I'm hot. - Dan Tao
[+80] [2008-10-07 00:35:43] Raelshark

In Batman Returns, the caped crusader is soaring through the sewer in his bat-sewer-mobile and honing in on the Penguin's duck-mobile. As he approaches the target, the duckmobile shows up on his radar, which emits a "quack" every time the rotating needle passes the target.

I never understood why Batman would take the time during the construction of this advanced amphibious assault vehicle to add a duck icon to the display, much less a quacking sound.

(5) I think it is true to the television series where batman is prepared like some kind of uber boy scout. Remember his computer that accepted a bowl of alphabet soup as input? THAT is planning ahead, my friend! More examples here:… - JohnFx
(2) Oh yeah, in the same episode he conveniently had a "Alphabet Soup Bat-Container" to bring the soup back to the Bat cave. - JohnFx
(1) There was an episode where Robin was turned into a 2D cardboard cutout of himself, but fortunately Batman happened to have a re-three-dimensionalizer back at the cave. - Joel Mueller
Batman thinks of everything. That's why he's so cool. I think this scene was so funny because of how dramatic it was trying to be. - Raelshark
[+78] [2008-10-06 17:06:01] Bill the Lizard

Just the idea that hacking is something done in real-time. Hackers, Swordfish, NCIS, and many others depict hackers sitting at their keyboard furiously typing away commands to the systems they're hacking (or at each other). They don't seem to grok that the act of hacking is more like spending hours writing a script (or seconds downloading one) and then spending a few milliseconds running it. It's not interactive!

Maybe they're thinking old school. Ever read "The Cuckoo's Egg"? - crystalattice
No, I wasn't aware of it. Thanks for the reference. - Bill the Lizard
Excellent book. Cliff spent time both writing scripts and interactively thwarting hackers. - Dour High Arch
That's not exact. Although yes, running the script takes milliseconds, once you get in you have a whole bunch of activity to do: clean the logs, install rootkit, create backdoor account, run a scan of the subnet, install password sniffer, run a recursive grep to find credit card numbers. These are interactive activities you can follow if you have a good honey pot (or if the guy is a l4m3r who does not check who is connected and what he is doing) - Stefano Borini
(3) @Stefano: You should brush up on your terms. A honey pot is a trap set up to catch hackers (and wannabes), not some system that gives you all you want. "Good honey pot" is a paradox. - Alex
(6) That's exactly what I am talking about: he got into your honeypot. Now you can observe what he is doing. - Stefano Borini
Today it's all about the cyber-mafia writing complex worms to steal credit cards and sell time on their botnet. - BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft
[+70] [2008-10-06 19:57:17] Peter Walke

Anything from 24.

"I need to open a socket"

"Transfer it to my screen"

"Follow this protocol"

"Download it to my PDA"


(11) "Morris, this report has missing sectors! Let me smell your breath." - Andy McCluggage
(2) But...Chloey can do anything :) - dotjoe
(2) Yes, and those "read-once" memory cards. - splattne
(11) Don't forget the famous "AOL Parody" of 24/ Hillarious. - JohnFx
(2) I think "DAMMIT" is actually pretty accurate - Mike Robinson
(1) Agreed. The socket comments in the last season made me shoot daiquiri out my nose. - OrionRobillard
(1) I am in love of Chloey - Cesar
(2) Edgar: All i need to do is read the binary - Egg
(1) @splattne: I've never seen 24, so I don't know for sure what these read-once memory cards are about, but why wouldn't those be possible? In many memory cards, the computer that you plug it in to doesn't physically read/write from/to the memory, it tells a microcontroller inside the device what to do. The microcontroller could easily be programmed to erase the memory after sending it to the computer. - Ponkadoodle
Chloe messing with the 'trunkline': fixing a hardware problem through software avoiding having to reinstall everything totaling hundreds of gigs of data. Just in time too. - JoePasq
[+70] [2008-10-07 22:57:41] Jeremy Ruten

Why do "search programs" have to rapidly display an image on the screen of every person (or whatever) in the database as it's searching?

Because it looks cooler that way! :P - alex
(6) They also have to make little high pitched ticking noises as they do it! - Blorgbeard
(2) The answer is simple. In the future, network neutrality has been abandoned, and pipes for image data are separate entirely from pipes for textual data. Ergo, it's a free move to pump img data / img data over an IO buffer hitting the separate line. Done. - Stefan Kendall
(14) "Premature optimization is the root of all evil." :) - Eddie Parker
(3) "Unnecessary functionality is the root of all evil." :) - Ponkadoodle
Reminds of BarsWF, which is one of the fastest MD5-Crackers out there. Explanation (taken from here) on why it is so fast: Actually it is clear why they are so slow - they do screen refresh after every single key. - Bobby
@Eddie Parker: and @Wallacoloo: I've never understood why the root of all evil is so bad, surely O(sqrt(evil)) is a hell of a lot better than O(evil^2). If premature optimization means I'm getting O(sqrt(n)) time, I'm going for it. - Joe D
[+60] [2008-10-06 17:11:58] Oliver Hallam

Trinity's use of nmap to look for vulnerabilities in a power station in Matrix Reloaded - oh wait, that was actually quite accurate.

(1) Didn't she use some SSH exploit too? - MattC
(9) Do we need a seprate question of where computers are shown accurately in films? Or is this the only occurence. - Martin York
(17) Yes. Unlikely... well, maybe. Enhance. - bill weaver
(1) Follow the white rabbit. - Bryan Rehbein
(5) Sneakers had some pretty good moments - Henrik Gustafsson
@MattC, yes it was a real SSH exploit - rogeriopvl
did it really explode? - Luca Matteis
(1) And the fact that she used to be a hacker (before entering the matrix) too. Neo isn't even as good a hacker as Trinity! - chakrit
(1) Wait, don't you mean leaving the Matrix? - GalacticCowboy
[+57] [2008-10-06 16:50:01] Hugh Allen

How about green Japanese characters scrolling vertically up the screen, leaving trails?

(11) But at least they used nmap when trying to hack into ports. - RKitson
(3) yes, actually they used a real SSH exploit, so it was interesting in that point. - rogeriopvl
(5) in those entire 8 seconds out of 3 films... - orip
(11) Well, and the fact that some of the scrolling characters are "hot blonde". - Eli
(3) Come on those were cool :) - thomasrutter
@Eli: ... with a red dress? ;-) - fretje
@thomasrutter: No it wasn't. She was way beneath my standards - her knees were far too sharp. - kyoryu
@kyoryu he, not she. - Will
[+56] [2008-10-06 16:40:33] Michael McCarty

"The Net" with Sandra Bullock is the first thing that comes to mind.

(2) Especially when she uploads to the Net by putting a 3.5 floppy into a mainframe. - y0mbo
(1) there were several mac virii that spread by the desktop file being read when an infected disk was loaded.. and the whole thing does revolve around macs :) far-fetched, sure, but what isn't? - warren
I watched that with my wife last night. They didn't do too bad actually. She used real programs, even if it was in unbelievable ways (echo, and telnet). Things had passwords. :-D But the music, if my computer beeped every time I hit a key .... I would go postal. - J.J.
That's not an egregious perversion of programming, it's just perverse. How I wanted the protagonist to lose! - MrBoJangles
(17) That's not how you use a movie. Focus on Sandra Bullock's ass, not the computer. - Peter Wone
And how the data miraculously returned to normal when the protection racket software was removed. - Aaron
She is cute though... - Tony Andrews
(1) Actually, The Net wasn't that farfetched compared to many other movies. - BobbyShaftoe
What!? You mean you can't really store every computer virus that ever existed on a floppy? - Eli
(19) I loved the IP number where one of the octets was something like 354. - chaos
@Chaos, that's the first thing I thought of when I heard "The Net with Sandra Bullock". - Sampson
(2) How about the fact that they outsourced QA work for Wolfenstein to Sandra Bullock? - Mike Robinson
[+54] [2009-02-22 02:09:58] chaos

How in TV- and movie-land, successfully logging in causes a huge modal window to pop up that says


and hangs there for a couple minutes. Because, y'know, I definitely put that in all my login sequences.

(10) Haha, from now on, modal windows with bright green text that say ACCESS GRANTED are a must on my 'net apps. +1 - alex
(1) Unfortunately, I've had the misfortune to use a VPN client which does that. - JasonTrue
(1) You mean you don't do that already? I for one am shocked! - LiamGu
(2) I have a horrible suspicion that if we DID put that in, our corporate users would LOVE it. - Peter Wone
@Peter: Only for the first few times. After that, no. (Damn, but I hate our VPN…) - Donal Fellows
[+52] [2008-10-06 21:49:57] Sean

Real-time satellite imagery (in 24, Enemy of the State, etc.). It's amazing that there is never a cloud in the sky.

(3) Not sure what this has to do with programming, but it's a pet peeve of mine, too. And they always feature the camera shot looking "over the satellite's shoulder" down on earth, and you hear it beep-beep-beeping away--dont' they remember, in space, nobody can hear you scream?! :) - Drew Hall
That actually started out in "under siege 2", where they are using the satellite to peek at a girl on the beach taking her top off or something like that (saw it 10+ years ago) - Uri
(1) I thought Patriot Games did this pretty well. They had the motion of the satellite down, and did have at least hints of clouds (IIRC) obscuring the action at times. - Will
(1) I remember in the first season of 24, Jack asks for (and gets) the satellite video of a building -- from 10 minutes ago. (you mean every building in the country has a satellite trained on it, and is recording 24x7 ?) - James Curran
[+51] [2008-10-06 17:04:04] warren

Swordfish! come on: a timed hack? gimme a break

(17) That and the fact that programming is apparently just hooking up spinning blue cubes, Lego-style. Man, and here I am using Visual Studio like a sucker. - Electrons_Ahoy
Man, I want to program with spinning blue cubes! - Marc Reside
I thought the "Visual" in Visual Studio were those cubes! - sdfx
Yeah, but six monitors! Oh, and Halle. - Skizz
(4) And what would I give for a woman in my lap whilst up against a tight deadline! - Skizz
@Skizz - Agreed 100%. Could live without the gun held to my head though. - Sherm Pendley
(1) Actually, all thing considered, Swordfish was pretty good on the computer side of things. The time hack is realistic enough, in the sense you could put someone in that situation. That the guy succeeds, well, it is a movie. - Sylverdrag
(4) About the cubes, I seem to remember that was only the representation. Besides, I came across a hacker website where it describes how to crack software in a photo editor. (When the exe file is opened as a RAW picture, each dot is 1 bit, and you can change its value with a painbrush). - Sylverdrag
(6) Apparently you don't understand the power of a "seven headed hydra worm" with 9 monitors to boot! - JohnFx
(1) At a company I worked at years ago we used to do a Swordfish style timed hack (no woman unfortunately) on an Access based system we inherited. More than 60 seconds to extract sensitive customer data and your buying drinks for a month. - Daniel M
@Daniel - with "Access", that's reasonable ;) - warren
@warren - with "Access", that type of security^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hease of access is a feature! - Eddie Parker
[+44] [2008-10-06 17:57:48] Will Wagner

The way that computer systems often helpfully report which characters of a password or code you've guessed correctly, making brute force attacks that much easier.

(31) This actually was a real security issue in older systems. By checking the password character by character the system would take longer to respond for each correct character. By timing the reponse time it was easy to bruteforce the password. - John Nilsson
@John - wow. That's a creative way to find a password... didn't know it exist. - Asaf R
wow, that would be a monumental security fail. What type of older systems tho? - thomasrutter
Very, very old, if the checking of characters took longer than the granularity of the system clock. - Michael Borgwardt
(5) Reminds me of a system I worked on where the username / password combination was the unique key in the database. And the username was the last of the user. There were 900 Smiths on the site, so when the 901st tried to register there were 900 passwords he might try to use that'd pop an alert indicating "That password is already in use" - Mike Robinson
@mike robinson: I don't see why that would be a problem: "Oh, smith/awesome is valid, I'll just use that one." - SingleNegationElimination
(3) We're sorry, but Bob is already using that password. Would you like to be notified when he changes his password, so that you can use it? - GalacticCowboy
Actually, this "feature" still exists to this day in Lotus Notes. - Lotus Notes
[+42] [2008-10-06 19:25:22] sdfx

The database containing convenient 3D models of every room in every house in the whole city

(4) just wait for google earth 3D :D - seFausto
(11) .. in the whole world. - sthg
(3) @isc_fausto it's funny cause I just read this post 2 years after you commented, and there actually IS a Google Earth 3d! :D - Jeriko
@sthg: Don't forget, in google earth we have mars and the moon as well now! - Joe D
You're underestimating the power of your state! - Loïc Faure-Lacroix
[+42] [2008-10-07 09:19:44] Kasper Vesth

Well I hate it when nerds are portraited as people who know something about all electronic equipment and programs. Like in Die Hard 4.0 where they go into the powerplant, and the nerd presses 2 or 3 buttons on a computer system he have never seen before, and suddenly he knows exactly where they need to go. A lot of great examples of that around :P

(5) That was example of perfectly intuitive user interface. - zendar
It must have been a PC :) - ebrown
(32) In defense of Hollywood that is what all non-technical people think. I'm a computer programmer but my family thinks I can fix anything with a microchip in it. One time my grandmother called me when her cable went out. Call the cable company MawMaw! - Autodidact
(2) @Autodidact: +1 for MawMaw - ahawker
Wouldn't an IT person be able to quickly figure out how to use a computer system, especially one that is presumably designed to be usable? And wouldn't an IT person be far better at using that system than a non-tech person? - Kirk Broadhurst
I think the whole point is that the kind of systems nerds use in films SHOULD be usable, but rarely are, so that's not really an argument :D But you are right.. That could be an explanation. - Kasper Vesth
Upvoted for MawMaw. - Bayard Randel
@Autodidact: You and me both... I had the exact same experience with my grandmother and family in general. - JohannesH
I have a bad enough time explaining that just because I'm a programmer I do not know how to fix your spreadsheet - Cruachan
@Autodidact: the sad thing is, my mom called me when her cable modem went out, and my first suggestion to power cycle it worked. (I must've been channelling Roy from the IT Crowd). But I normally explain the situation with an question, such as "Would you ask a proctologist why you have ringing in your ears?" - Joe
[+35] [2008-10-06 18:59:32] Martin Beckett

Office space - no one here gets that much freedom and respect!

Okay, that made me snigger! I'm voting up. - Simon Peverett
(4) Yeah, they don't let me take a laser printer out to a field to beat it with a baseball bat either... - Bryan Rehbein
(15) "PC Load letter"!?! What the f**k does that mean?? - Richard Everett
Redbeard, they may not let you, but they wont stop you. - Petey B
(2) @ Redbeard we did that in the parking lot, boss helped - Bob The Janitor
@Bob: Did you work at Pandemic? - Eddie Parker
what freedom are you talking about? - hasen
[+33] [2008-10-06 16:42:49] Electrons_Ahoy

The entire movie "Hackers." The signature scene for me was when the CG face rendered by the computer virus started screaming "HELP ME!!!" when the hero deleted it.

(On the other hand, Angelina Jolie.)

(2) But don't forget the spray-painted laptops. Those were cool. - David Hicks
You know, I'm starting to think that if a movie was well-researched as far as its computer stuff, it might come off as boring or wonkish. No, that's not right. These movies just plain ol' stink. - MrBoJangles
I was also a fan of the giant 3D rendered worlds that they managed to store on a single 3.5 disc. And "upload" over a pay phone. - Electrons_Ahoy
(4) But at least "Hackers" knew that it was goofy. The tech is so bad that it's more funny than annoying. - Kirk Strauser
Hack teh gibson. - Wedge
I loved the "Rabid Rabbits" worm that the hackers released on the mainframe. Too bad the bad guys killed it with a "Rabies Shot". Made me laugh out loud in the theatre. - Rick
"Hackers" wasn't intended to be realistic -- it was meant to mock other hacker movies, and even the hacker culture itself. - mipadi
@mipadi Man, I hate to be contrarian, but it was 1995 - what other hacker movies? I don't think the people making the movie had any idea how funny it was. - Electrons_Ahoy
(1) There were plenty of other hacker movies around in 1995 (admittedly some are lesser known) -- plus "Hackers" was poking fun at the hacker subculture itself, which was alive and well in 1995 (probably more alive then than it is today). - mipadi
[+32] [2008-10-06 16:49:13] Eran Galperin

To me it's always funny how they always use keyboard typing for dramatic effect. Nobody heard of mice in the movies yet. Maybe they're all limited to shell access only...

(9) Not true. Scotty used a mouse. Hello Computer! - Ferruccio
(3) And the annoying kid in Jurassic Park - "Unix, I know this" then grabs mouse. - Peter Wone
(9) Real hacker's use the command line. Or butterflies: - Colonel Sponsz
(2) ratpoison windows mananger, obviously - DarenW
(14) The keyboard is fantastic. I once randomly started typing so the person that I was assisting via the phone would think I had done something to fix their non-existent problem. It worked! - shelfoo
Dude. They're commandos. - John Pirie
@shelfoo - Not really on topic, but the automated line for our local paper has a "keyboard sound" for this exact purpose. Somehow, it has voice recognition ("Please say or enter your house number.") but uses a keyboard from 1970. "Please wait while I look up your account." CLACK CLACK CLACK "One moment please while I update that information." CLACK CLACK CLACK - GalacticCowboy
[+32] [2008-10-11 10:08:25] Bob Somers


"You need to move past Fourier Transfers and start considering Quantum Mechanics."

The commentary before that about viruses and firewalls is priceless too, but the quantum mechanics quote takes the cake.

s/Fourier transfers/Fourier transforms/ - Federico A. Ramponi
I know, that's half the point. She doesn't even get the the Fourier part right! Maybe the Aussie accent hides it, but it sounds a lot more like "transfer" than "transform". - Bob Somers
(2) That wasn't even as bad as the sound recordings infecting computers with a virus. - Adam Lassek
[+31] [2008-10-06 17:40:15] warren

The "live video" from Jurassic Park - it was a quicktime movie; you can see the progress bar advancing.

I'll have to look out for that, if I ever bother to watch that movie again - johnc
Never noticed. Doubt I will since the book was so much better than the movie, I don't wan to subject myself to that video trash again. - crystalattice
(2) I remember this! lol - Lucas
(1) I remember seeing that! - Fry
[+30] [2008-10-08 03:13:02] Dov Wasserman

When a bank account transfer of a large sum of money takes longer than a transfer of a small amount, as indicated by the progress bar showing increasing $ amounts being transferred.

I always knew deep down that 0s were faster to transmit than 1s.

(3) I guess each digit takes up a megabyte or memory in those old COBOL systems;-) - Jay Atkinson
[+28] [2008-10-06 21:37:19] devlord

I think it's funny when you hear people typing away on the keyboard in crime dramas doing photoshop-type stuff that really requires a mouse.

(1) Some Photoshop pros use a keyboard in their left hand and a mouse in their right hand. The shortcuts make a big difference (esp. switching tools). - Jared Updike
(3) Use ImageMagick instead. Then you can use a keyboard instead. - JasonTrue
I would say half my photoshop usage is the keyboard. ctrl+alt+shift+s looks like a lot of typing just to save a picture. - corymathews
[+28] [2008-10-07 22:49:13] Jeff B

I love that ROBOCOP runs on DOS. In the first movie, where he's being built, they show a boot-up sequence, where he has to load CONFIG.SYS to run.

Wonder if Aronofsky will fix that in the new film. Maybe he'll run Ubuntu or Vista instead - Neil Aitken
(1) And then 15 years later when we look at that movie we'll see the Ubuntu or Vista boot up sequence and groan at the primitive technology. - thomasrutter
(8) If it's Vista, no years need to pass for us to groan at it... - kkaploon
And in the 2nd(?) movie his nemesis ran Mac OS - Peter M
[+25] [2008-10-07 23:11:30] hangy

In "The Italian Job" (2003), Lyle/"Napster"/Seth Green hacks into the city's main traffic control system. Not only he easily gets into this system, but he can also immediately control everything, is familiar with the complete system and there are ultra high quality video streams of every traffic light in the whole city. On his notebook.

(1) AND they have a super nice web GUI... :( - kkaploon
(2) and they do it without Benny Hill - Martin Beckett
(6) And the software that can measure the height of the truck off of the road in order to determine which armor truck is caring the safe - Irwin M. Fletcher
[+24] [2008-10-06 21:51:54] Brian Kelly

Viruses that look more like Photoshop filters.

[+21] [2008-10-06 18:15:22] Ben Collins

It's gotta be every episode of Stargate or Stargate: Atlantis that deals with the Replicators. McKay is always reprogramming an entire hive of replicators in 30 minutes using a Dell laptop or some such crap.

(10)‌​px Replicators run on Javascript. Figures. - pookleblinky
Voting up that comment! - Rene Saarsoo
(2) Does the dell protection extend to the pegasus galaxy? - Uri
(1) Here I thought I was the only person in the entire world who paused the movie on that frame and shook my head laughing. There are similiar jems in mission to mars. - Einstein
[+21] [2008-10-06 18:28:27] Vihung

The idea that somehow 'coding' involves strange symbols not usually found on a keyboard

(12) it's just that all hackers use APL ( ) - James Curran
(2) @James Curran: +1 for APL - Jared Updike
(8) or they use PERL....;-) - Jay Atkinson
Reminds me of: "Does it look like that when it runs on the cluster?" - BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft
[+21] [2008-10-08 09:01:54] Henry B

The Screen IS the Computer.

I'm unsure if it was mentioned yet, but certainly something amuses/annoys me is how the screen IS the computer. If someone wants to blow up a computer they'll just destroy the screen. There is one exception to this, that is when they are destroying a Mac, in this case it is always enjoyable (yet slightly annoying that they would include Macs in the movie).

The same concept can be stretched even further: The GUI is the software eg. from CSI "I'll make a GUI in Visual Basic to track the Killer's IP address" The again this is not so surprising as the same often happens in real life as well. What you see is what you get. - Gene
I heard that Apple have quite a large budget for paying holywood to use Macs. Might not be true - Neil Aitken
@Aitken - sounds true; anyway, most contemporary films feature Macs, and not PCs. Shame on them! - Asaf R
(1) Same thing happened in Splinter Cell...they just shot the monitors to 'destroy the data'. - Bobby
[+19] [2008-10-07 18:07:47] Rene Saarsoo

Jakob Nielsen has a nice overview of Usability in the Movies [1]. There's also a page about Excessive Interoperability in Independence Day [2] - well worth reading.


[+18] [2008-10-06 19:03:40] sieben

No ones watching the latest season of Prison Break with the device that sucks up electronic data from other devices? He could stand next to your computer with this device in his pocket and copy your entire hard drive..

Better yet, it could also copy data from portable media (whether or not they're turned on)!

What I don't get is if he's got wi-fi access to the device from his laptop in the car, why is it so important that he retreive the device? - devlord
Because the producers don't have a clue. I was rolling on the floor most of that episode. - Rik
lol. It's because it took him so long to create this device that if they lose it, they won't be able to make a new one in time to steal the remaining cards data. - sieben
@sieben but they didn't even know there were any other cards! - devlord
oh, I think that the card owner would have figured out what it was, or had it examined by someone else. - sieben
The only reason I would ever watch that poor excuse for a show, is the cute redhead. - Brad Gilbert
(2) Ha I saw this... - alex
This is a form of side channel attack - not completely implausible, but you would certainly not have at-will access to any stored data or anything. - thomasrutter
There was a similar device in Runaway Jury when the thug sneaks into Cusak's apartment, plugs a USB device in and sucks everything off the computer in less than a minute, including deleted files. - JohnFx
Oh man..prison break. I am not surprised by this. Saw 20 minutes of that show and almost had a heart attack due to poor acting and terrible story. Where's Dennis Franz when you need one? - dr Hannibal Lecter
At Black Hat a few years ago they had a device which could steal your (RFID-enabled) credit-card numbers just by standing near you... - BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft
[+18] [2008-10-11 08:41:49] Federico A. Ramponi

The core (which is a perversion of physics itself), in the scene where the hacker baby genius [1] plays for a few seconds with a cell phone and the wrapping of a chewing gum and then claims:

" You now have free long distance on this phone. Forever . [2]"


(22) That guy must be a phreaking genius! =) - JohnFx
+1 I so loved seeing that! - kkaploon
Well, Woz did unlock an iPhone in dancing with the stars. There is got to be someone who knows how to pull this thing off (at least in the 80's). - Manuel Ferreria
Clearly it's the Hot Pockets. - glasnt
(1) Actually, this is based on a real hack from the 70s. John Draper used a toy whistle to break into At&T systems. - Bobby
That's not even remotely similar - BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft
[+17] [2008-10-06 16:40:59] Rob Wells

Echoing a password to the screen in the movie "Wargames"

come on! every machine I use does that... :P - warren
(6) To be fair, that film stands up a lot better than most others. Two problems I have with it: He takes the hot girl home and tries to impress her with his computer, and it works. The big computer thingy has a smiley face made out of flashy lights on one side. - SpoonMeiser
(2) I used BBSes in that era which did echo the password to the screen... - JasonTrue
(2) SpoonMeiser: I watched Wargames as teenager, and I thought he impressed her with computer skills. Then I watched it a lot lot later, and I realized that he actually impressed her with his social engineering skills (changing the grades). Go figure. - J S
[+17] [2008-10-06 17:06:43] Owen

I love in "Weird Science" when they hack into the Pentagon network through the 3D vector graphics GUI. And they have a choice of 3 doors - one of which has a skull and cross bones behind it.

That isn't outlandish at all. Dick Cheney looks at that screen every time he logs into his computer. - mmcdole
(7) Dude, they create a woman by shoving magazine clippings into the diskette drive! - itsadok
(7) ... While wearing bras on their heads. - Brad Gilbert
where can i get one of those??? - Jason Miesionczek
rofl! I forgot about Weird Science and the girl! That was so awesome. - Rick
@Jason - a woman or a disk drive? - Tim Post
[+16] [2008-10-06 17:42:12] Zachary Yates

How about every line that Cloe spouts in 24? I think they invented a language of technical gibberish similar to Klingon for that show. Not downing on anything else about 24, but please.

(1) Other than the speed that everything is done, actually 24 is the most tech correct TV show on network security that I have viewed. - WolfmanDragon
I need those protocols! - Matt
Cloe is actually my favorite character on 24. Lovely personality! - JesperE
Open me up a socket to the President! - Liam
(2) Open a socket and pipe the protocols. Sigh. - bill weaver
[+16] [2008-10-08 08:47:00] Galwegian

The hacking that Gus (Richard Pryor) does in Superman III


It's almost worth using the "offensive" button for this one! ;-) - Scott McKenzie
(15) Msg 156, Level 15, State 1, Line 1 Incorrect syntax near the keyword 'TO'. Msg 105, Level 15, State 1, Line 1 Unclosed quotation mark after the character string 'S ACCOUNT '. - johnc
ERROR 1064 (42000): You have an error in your SQL syntax; check the manual that corresponds to your MySQL server version for the right syntax to use near 'TRANSFER MONEY TO LEX'S ACCOUNT - Peter
[+16] [2009-07-07 20:47:16] Ronnie Overby

In The Dark Knight, when they use cell phones to completely map out every room in every building in all of Gotham City.

Yes that was a bit of a WTF moment. - Neil Aitken
They should have nominated the movie for most ridiculous deus ex machina moment right there. - wds
There's an app for that. - Bayard Randel
Your phone doesn't do that? - Loïc Faure-Lacroix
[+15] [2008-10-08 03:37:08] CAD bloke

Star Wars. The control panel used to fire the Death Star weapon was actually a Grass Valley 1600 Television video mixer control panel. The T-bar is for transitions like dissolves, wipes etc.

What about the fact that with a weapon capable of destroying a planet they still have to round another planet to get at it? Why wouldn't they just destroy the planet that was in their way first? Oh, time just ran out... - BenAlabaster
@BenAlabaster: You mean like this: - Bobby
(1) @BenAlabaster: Because the Death Star is intended for use against solid bodies of approximately Earth size or smaller, not for use against gas giants. - JAB
[+15] [2008-11-27 19:00:57] LuRsT

It's amazing how in most of the movies you can just type: upload virus. To destroy the computer.

(53) Dude! That is not cool. You just destroyed my computer. Be more careful next time. - JohnFx
[+14] [2008-10-06 17:13:30] James Curran

Well, if you want "virtual world representation", we gotta talk TRON: Let's see...

  • it has a physical matter transport device (which we won't touch here, since it's out of scope of the question), but
  • The "data" being transfer passes through a computer, where it retains its consciousness.
  • Conscious data and programs (which are also conscious) are interchangeable.
  • "Good" data fights "Evil" data in hand-to-hand combat.
  • When "good" data wins the brawl, a teletype spits out evidence -- proof of the real-life person wrong doing.

(12) I don't see the problem here. I mean, I'm constantly fixing bugs by throwing glowing frisbees at them. :) - Dave DuPlantis
Sweet! I'm still on a golden hammer. I'd far prefer a glowing frisbee. - James A. Rosen
Glowing frisbees ARE a golden hammer. pshhaw - CrashCodes
Just showed that to my kids recently. That was more "Jeff Bridges in Spandex" than I want to see again... - Brian Stewart
I thought this is how computers worked? - mmcdole
This answer needs to be moved to the "where computers are shown accurately in films" question. - bill weaver
(5) Tron isn't egregious. I mean, it's not like they're TRYING to portray computers realistically... shows like CSI are dead serious however. :P - Ace
These are our concerns, Dude... - Doug L.
(2) Except for the last point your describing the matrix. - James McMahon
(2) The Matrix has it own problems... If "there is no spoon" why do they duck bullets? - James Curran
T2ON - coming in 2011. - HitLikeAHammer
(2) Concious data and programs being interchangeable is clearly first class functions on the roll - Rubys
[+14] [2008-10-06 18:30:50] fijter

There was this episode of The X-Files (S01E07) called Ghost in the Machine [1]. It was all about a AI computer that killed people to prevent shutting it down. The computer was able to put electricity on a door lock in a building when it detected people with the security camera. It was also able to crush a car by lowering the parking garage gate at the right moment. Oh yeah, it could also talk :)


+1 because I was going to suggest that episode. - Oliver Hallam
(8) You're supposed to Want to Believe. - Peter Wone
How was it suppose to electrify a door knob anyway? - Brad Gilbert
What about the two episodes penned by William Gibson? Those were horrible. I remember a reference to a 3d model being "bit-wrapped" and one of the Lone Gunmen "reprogramming" a computer by fiddling with a hard drive. - Adam Lassek
Have you seen any of the other episodes of that show? - troelskn
(1) The computer was built to make the entire hotel "smart." There's no reason it couldn't redirect voltage to an automatic door opener. Assuming it was REALLY wired, it was wired for basic defense and such. - Stefan Kendall
[+14] [2008-10-06 21:53:11] reefnet_alex

lawnmower man. I worked for a VR software company when it came out and I think it killed the whole field off!

I would not be suprised if that was a major factor. - Tom A
[+14] [2008-10-07 05:59:12] Ryan Delucchi

Any movie where the "hacker" types furiously for 30 seconds and then utters the cliched announcement of accomplishment: "I'm In!"

Usually a 70+ year old man brought reluctantly out of retirement in a futuristic anime. - johnc
What, you don't say that out loud every time you login? - Bayard Randel
[+14] [2008-11-18 20:12:42] David Leon

While I have great respect for the dude who mentioned the preposterous virus upload in "Independence Day", I must say that Bruce Willis actually out-did that one in his recent movie "Live Free or Die Hard".

Did you catch that rubbish about a "Fire Sale" attack? According to this cheese-whack screen-writer, the Department of Homeland Security set up a single mainframe where all U.S. Corporations were supposed to download their corporate databases if a catestrophic attack occured on the America. This would be the national safety deposit box for all our business data.

So the bad guys intended to trigger this process with a Fire Sale attack, and then have their inside man copy all this data to a portable hard disk and walk out of the building. Walking out of the building with all U.S. Corporate data on a portable hard disk would give the bad guys full mastery over all our national wealth.

After doing this, you can sip cocktales in Fiji for the rest of your life.

(4) He probably used winzip to make the data fit on a single drive - Mike Robinson
(1) hahaha! Oh man, I don't know if 7-Zip could get that job done! :) - David Leon
(1) I just don't really see any major Corporation choosing to depend on the government for disaster recovery. - SingleNegationElimination
The next movie's going to be more advanced, they'll just put the stuff on a microSD card. - DMin
[+12] [2008-10-07 00:08:54] thursdaysgeek

Monitors that have a DOS display that is apparently about 15 characters wide and 6 lines high. So the camera can read what is being typed from over the shoulder of the teenage actor.

(6) With a variable width font. - Brad Gilbert
[+12] [2008-10-07 00:14:05] Ash Kim

Hacking an ATM with a laptop.

"Easy money"

Ah, Terminator 2. Nice reference. - Robert S.
(3) That's more or less reality. Differs only in the details.… - thomasrutter - Ponkadoodle
[+12] [2008-10-07 00:47:06] Graeme Perrow

Searching databases in movies is done in English. "Find brown-haired people living in Los Angeles named Juan" returns either immediately or after 4 hours, depending on what the plot requires. Then it returns 8 hits.

(2) Actually, this could be somekind of SQL. If the syntax is fixed, it would work. - Bobby
(1) the point is not the query used, but that there are probably a million juans in LA. They all have brown hair. - SingleNegationElimination
[+12] [2008-10-07 06:11:12] kosoant

Definately Swordfish! 3D hacking? Come on! Programming/hacking is done by spinning 3D blocks around on a display? Come on! And all this while getting a blowjob from a hot chick...

+1 when the hacker has one minute to hack into government computer (he uses lame dictionary attack, BTW), while gangster holds a gun to his head and hot girl gives him a blowjob - that was epic - Lukas Stejskal
Also, a Hydra is a "multi-headed worm"... never mind that worms are technically multi-headed already... - Sean R
(2) I liked Swordfish’s depiction of hacking. It wasn’t technically accurate (duh!) but it succeeded in conveying the play of frustrating and satisfactory emotions when certain things just don’t work versus just fall into place. I liked the 3D puzzle analogy as well. - Konrad Rudolph
[+12] [2008-10-11 09:53:56] Crippledsmurf
  1. The idea that governments and financial institutions don't audit their code to prevent the presence of back doors and the like in their software
  2. The idea that an iPod can be retrofitted in order to use it as part of a plot to hack into a bank
  3. The idea that encryption can be overcome by a single man sitting typing at a single computer in a small amount of time, while being held at gunpoint
  4. The idea that UNIX mainframes run 3D window / file managers and that these can be accessed remotely in full fidelity on an old Mac
  5. The idea that the security policies of a major organization would allow a password as simple as "god"
  6. The idea that someone in a management position which was not IT related would have enough rights that the compromise of her account (with the password god) would cause a serious security breach
  7. The idea that when a system administrator audits the activity of a system, he identifies logged in users by their password ("god wouldn't be up this late")

(5) "The idea that governments and financial institutions don't audit their code to prevent the presence of back doors and the like in their software" -- That's actual programming not pop culture perversion. See - Windows programmer
(1) #2 - With S3 drives and AutoRun, you could set up a virus or some other malware to install automatically when a device is connected. - Andrew Scagnelli
#3 - If it's some crap homebrew encryption scheme, and the single man was a skilled cryptoanalyst, and the computer contained good cryptoanalysis tools, it would be possible. - Michael Borgwardt
«The idea that governments and financial institutions don't audit their code to prevent the presence of back doors and the like in their software» -- I'm dealing with code from financial institutions and they wouldn't find a backdoor if it hit them in the jaws and knocked all their teeth off. - niXar
for #7, I interpreted that as a comment on the late hour, not the logged in user. After all, he was woken up by the night operator. - Tom A
#4 - Come now. No love for FSN?… - directedition
I really think you give major corporations too much credit with #5-7. Surely storing passwords in cleartext is the easiest way to recover them! ;-) - wds
[+11] [2008-11-05 19:37:49] nickf

There's a 2001 Australian movie called The Bank [1] where David Wenham plays a programmer hired to do market predictions or some crap. As he's working on his program, he complains that it's not running fast enough, so he calls up his mate from uni who gives him "a program" (on a 3.5" floppy). David takes it back to his work where his program is running: by this I mean thousands of lines of code are flashing by on the screen. When he puts the disk in, the lines of code go double-spaced and then merge together to run at twice the speed!


My gripe about the bank is also here - johnc
(3) I want one of those floppys - Cesar
this floppy disk might have removed the speed loop in the os kernel! - Loïc Faure-Lacroix
[+10] [2008-10-06 18:01:01] Michael Stum
  • IP Addresses in the form of 192.384.262.481
  • That Superman 3 Exploit where they funnel the fractions of cents of every transaction into an account. But in a positive sense, because that's now geek culture.

Did you make that IP address up? The first four digits are the same as mine from work. :\ - Thomas Owens
Wasn't that IP address from an episode of NCIS? - Andreas Magnusson
I actually made it up to show the absurdity of using values >255 for IPv4 addresses, but through the power of subconciousness, I might picked one from an actual show. - Michael Stum
(8) But this is intentional. It's like starting a phone number with 555. It looks good to casual glances, but it won't result in some real world computer becoming a cracking target. - Matthew Scouten
(2) True, but they could use a valid IP address for that. or also look good. - Michael Stum
(4) And then we'd be on here complaining about how they're using LAN addresses pretending they're live internet addresses (the horror!) - MDCore
Isn't the last one also in Office Space :D - Damien
(1) well see, if they use a lan address they could just say they have vpn'd on to the foreign system. that way a lan address is valid :P - Mauro
(5) I am surprised that the IP addresses in US movies don't start with 555 - Patrick Klug
(4) The superman 3/Office Space exploit was originally from real life. - Darron
(2) -1 for not knowing that rounding error theft is f'reals. - chaos
[+10] [2008-10-07 21:17:30] Jeffrey Harrington


Deckard is analyzing a photo of a bedroom.

He enhances... he enhances... and then, somehow, TURNS THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE PHOTOGRAPH to to reveal the snake lady around the corner sitting in a bathtub.

Ridiculous, even for science fiction.

Hmm, ASFAIR he zoomed into the mirror and then saw her face in the reflection... - Andreas Magnusson
this is my #1 Worst Movie-Photo-Enhancement moment ever.. - nickf
It does indeed go round corners. Also, the hard copy doesn't resemble what was on the screen. - onedaywhen
The Bladerunner game is even worse for this :| - Dalin Seivewright
(1) My geekness needs to add at this point 'Awesome Movie' though. - johnc
Yes, the perspective change was possible because of a mirror. And yes, the game had ridiculous perspective changes with no such support whatsoever. - chaos
(4) I dunno, they had self aware biological robots and your are complaining about photo enhancement software. Maybe it just looked like a photo, but was encoded with some kind of 3d representation of the locality where is was taken. - James McMahon
There was a mirror in, and the photo had a gazillion dpi, which is not so very far-fetched considering its the future. Simple as that. - mrueg
[+10] [2008-10-14 17:37:18] shoosh

An opposite example- The most realistic representation of a computer and programming I've seen yet: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya


(1) However, this is the same show where a girl plays a real-time strategy game by typing lines of code into thousands of popup command lines. - Jimmy
(2) Yeah, but she's also a hyper-dimensional data entity. I'm sure she's quite capable of generating machine code in real-time. She was probably just emulating the client over telnet or something. - tloflin
(1) I think in in the case of Nagato Yuki, it's an exception - nevets1219
[+9] [2008-10-07 09:23:34] David Holm

In one episode of the TV show Alias the tech guy is working on some kind of computer virus. His monitor is shown briefly while he is working on the "code" which in fact is not code at all but a produced by GNU automake.

(1) Proof that they should never actually show you what is on the screen. - Brad Gilbert
very nice :) Well spotted - johnc
But it's still progress. I wouldn't have surprised if the 'code' was a document in Courier ... in MS Word - progo
[+9] [2008-10-07 09:56:45] fenomas

Every time people in a movie or TV show zoom in on a picture of someone's face, and discover important information reflected in the person's eye, I die inside.

(This has happened on CSI at least twice.) It's pretty bad. - tj111
[+8] [2008-10-06 16:46:16] James Curran

Well, back when we all had modems to AOL instead of broadband to the Internet, there was the old "I can hack into your computer, just by calling your home".

[+8] [2008-10-06 19:07:30] zetetic

OK not programming specifically, but applicable. In the classic 'Office Space', when Peter Gibbons is trying to shut down his computer so that he can get out of the office before the dreaded Lundberg can buttonhole him about working on the weekend, as we see his screen saving to disk the desktop looks like a Mac, but when the file save is complete, we see a DOS prompt!

Now I know Initech is a bad place to work, but what kind of insane boss makes you work on a computer like that?

(1) They're running MovieOS:… - Dour High Arch
I recall that being on purpose. Or maybe that was another one where they boot in DOS and then the regular mac smiley happy apple shows up. - Andrew Backer
I always thought that was some kind of perverse humor at work, rather than an actual inaccuracy. - mipadi
This was done on purpose to intentionally ambiguous. All car license plates say USA on them, too. It might also be a wink to the geeks watching the movie. - HitLikeAHammer
[+8] [2009-02-05 23:11:05] alex

Has anyone seen Eagle Eye? I purchased it on a flight... I fell asleep half way through.. but a computer system interfacing with a crane? I'd imagine even in this day and age a crane is not hooked up to the internet....

[+8] [2009-06-24 19:38:31] Autodidact

I've noticed something funny in how movies show brute force password cracking.

The movie Wargames is the most obvious example. When Joshua is trying to guess the password for launching missiles you see his progress on a screen.

The way brute force password cracking works in the movies is when you get the password partially right you get a message showing which characters you got right and which ones you need to keep guessing for. Its like playing Hangman!

That's not so unrealistic. There were holes in operating systems which allowed to guess passwords letter by letter. - liori
Also, I kinda wonder why that computer was printing out every attempt instead of just saving it to a file. - JohnFx
[+7] [2008-10-07 14:19:36] Ellers

3D spinning logos -- especially in covert Government departments...

(2) The NSA has a whole 3d art team. Cant be a shadowy govt. organisation without some sweet logos - Neil Aitken
[+6] [2008-10-06 18:08:49] Bob Probst

Stick with me: In the end of " The Departed [1]" Matt Damon's character deletes DiCaprio's police records from the database.

Oh Noes! now there's no record that DiCaprio was ever working for the good guys! Not anywhere on backups or logfiles! Nowhere!

Ah! think of all the bloodshed that could have been avoided by a subpoena for the backup tapes.

Ruined an otherwise great movie for me.


Wow, one visual plot device ruined one of the best movies of this century for you? You should maybe add a redirect in your hosts file to send to Real Life. - Robert S.
Nah, one of the best movies of the century was the original, Infernal Affairs, which The Departed was based on. - Ryan Lundy
@Kyralessa: I disagree; I have the "Infernal Affairs" trilogy, not only does it not hold a candle to "The Departed", but it is so badly done it is almost unwatchable. But as far as the OP, that minor glitch is worth looking past at what is otherwise one of the best Hollywood movies in years. - unrealtrip
unrealtrip is speaking crazy talk - scronide
I agree, Infernal Affairs was awesome. - wds
(2) Backup tapes? What backup tapes? True at some places I've worked at. Also, even if there are backups, are they readable? One place I worked at did backups religiously, but never actually tested the tapes. So, maybe this isn't so far fetched ... - PTBNL
Why do you need to remind me? I was trying to save the environment when I linked those backups against /dev/null...and I also spared a lot of money for tapes! - Bobby
[+6] [2008-10-06 18:09:12] Kasper Vesth

The fact that no matter how many characters a password is, you can apparently always type it with just 3 presses on the keyboard.

(10) Maybe the login code is taken from Lotus Notes. - Rytmis
[+6] [2008-10-06 19:20:07] Robert Rossney

I have to agree with Randall Munroe: Julia Stiles [1], age 12, in the PBS series Ghostwriter. It is awesome in the depth of its badness. Also: Julia Stiles, age 12.

The sound is terrible, but you can see it here [2].


I wish I could find a transcript of that! Some of the best / worst / best-again writing to come out of Hollywood, ever. - Justin R. <- enjoy :D - kkaploon
[+6] [2008-10-11 10:12:37] Anders Sandvig

I watched Terminator again the other day, and suddenly I noticed the "terminator graphics" overlaid when the terminator is "scanning" the area is just a bunch of assembly code. Quite funny :)

As I recall it was determined to be Apple II BIOS. For RoboCop, they used some Windows screens. - James Curran
Haha the Robocop startup sequence in the first movie was a batch file. - guns
[+6] [2008-10-22 06:45:05] Doug L.

In every Law & Order episode that requires the detectives to talk to a computer operator, the operator is a nerd (which means skinny kid with glasses and rumpled clothing) and he is ALWAYS eating something. I guess he's too young for his metabolism to turn that food into fat yet...

(1) Add a Commodore 64 to that scene and you just drew a picture of me in 1985 - JohnFx
[+6] [2008-11-27 22:13:38] Rick

How about using a virus to blow up computers, as done in Transformers? And since when do computers contain material that can explode with such force?

The villain in the movie Runaway wired explosives into his equipment so they would explode if captured. - Dour High Arch
Is that a challenge or rhetorical question? A malicious hacker could turn off the fan (I've got a PC that has a API for the fan), ramp up the CPU usage, provided someone overwrote the BIOS with malicious code to disable high temp shutdown, they could get a dead computer and a satisfying "pop" sound when the CPU chip broke. I think imaginary alien robots should be able to do that. - MatthewMartin
(1) If I remember correctly, in Transformers the computers blow up in a huge fireball, completely destroying the room/building. That's a bit different from overheating the electronics. - Rick
[+6] [2008-11-28 00:08:54] RobH

Anyone remember Tron? Pretty well every computer term they used in that movie was misused or used in the wrong context. It's hilarious to watch. It's even funnier when you realize that they were trying to be serious.

(4) What are you talking about, I was sucked into a game of Tetris the other day! - johnc
And even funnier when you realize the immense technical know-how required to complete the movie's animation. I wonder what the programmers on the movie thought of the script. - directedition
True story: Alan Kay's wife worked on the script for Tron. - Adrian Petrescu
[+6] [2009-02-23 18:45:00] Ryan Lundy

Having just seen Wanted this past weekend (and do I ever wish I could have those two hours back):

We learn that the assassins' weaving loom passes the names of targets in binary.

All I could think was: Where do the character codes come from? ASCII? EBCDIC? Something else?

(1) that whole loom thing ruined that entire movie. Not that it was good movie without it... - dotjoe
The apparently have never heard of 1 time pad. - James McMahon
oh no, its ruined for me now.. - Dann
That's OK, it's a vile movie anyhow. I really wish I could erase it from my brain. I only saw it because the director was the same director who did Night Watch and Day Watch, which were great movies. - Ryan Lundy
(8) It was ASCII, which explains why the assasins were having such a hard time tracking down G?nter Gr??senh??sen. - JohnFx
[+6] [2009-03-11 12:58:27] Dizzle

"The Jackal" with Bruce Willis; how he ridiculously rattled off the specs for his uber sniper rifle to a Packard Bell 386, and the damn thing understood every single word, without Dragon Naturally Speaking or anything.

I think he also pushes control or alt on his keyboard to start his guns up...

(1) Obligatory - tj111
[+6] [2009-06-24 19:24:49] Barry Brown

A spy satellite can be positioned over a point of interest within seconds.

And it's a real-time video.

And the video is rock-steady. (In reality, these low-orbit satellites are whizzing by the ground at thousands of mph.)

And the video has incredibly high resolution.

[+5] [2008-10-06 18:10:51] Jordan Parmer

There was a terrible episode of NCIS where two "hackers" were hacking each other, consisting of fast camera swipes as they moved each other's windows back and forth.

I think I remember that episode...I lol'd at it. Hard. But otherwise, it is a good show. - Thomas Owens
Yeah, I remember that one. "This guy is good!" - Bill the Lizard
[+5] [2008-10-06 18:38:33] John Kraft

Wargames: The Dead Code. Nothing more needs to be said.

Good lord that movie was possibly worst than "The Phantom" - Quintin Robinson
[+5] [2008-10-06 18:51:50] Mathieu Pagé

4 8 15 16 23 42

What is interesting is that I can almost figure out the next number in the sequence. - Brad Gilbert
(2) I am addicted to LOST, so I had to upvote this, even if it's off-topic. So and now for some Dharma snacks, maybe an Apollo. - splattne
[+5] [2008-10-06 22:37:42] ADEpt

My favorite: fast-scrolling listings with unrelated code which are used to signify virus upload, hack in progress, or something like this.

[+5] [2009-06-24 19:05:09] Jeff Winkworth

In Anti-Trust, when the operating system developed by Ryan Fillipe is written in HTML.

lol. i think it was Java, but the opening sequence is all html. - dotjoe
And you still think windows 98/xp isn't just a big webpage? - Loïc Faure-Lacroix
[+5] [2009-06-24 19:10:08] Dan Tao

When a character who is supposedly some kind of super advanced computer programmer says something along the lines of "I speak binary," as if a computer programmer sits at the computer and types 0s and 1s all day.

[+5] [2009-09-26 01:25:31] Dolphin

If I hadn't watched the new Knight Rider I would never have learned that "Every good programmer leaves a backdoor into their system."

(2) This is in War Games too I think. When he visits the older nerds about the computer he dialed. - alex
(2) What? isn't this considered a best practice?? - DMin
[+5] [2009-10-08 17:55:47] Jason Irwin

The fact that both robocop and terminator have heads up displays even though information could (one would expect) be funneled straight into their brains. Their developers added a layer of indirection by forcing them to read the data!

Maybe they needed to brush up on their English - alex
(3) In general, I've always taken that sort of thing to be a representation of what a user would see if they wanted a video feed of what the robot/android is seeing. (In fact I recently watched a show several months ago where someone did indeed do that.) Basically, the robot takes the raw video data as input, but has the ability to output a copy with an overlay for someone else to see. - JAB
[+4] [2008-10-06 18:44:32] Fernando Barrocal

I would say 'Ocean's Thirteen' earthquake to Reboot the Casino's Security System !

It was a magnetron, silly! - EndangeredMassa
Yeah the earthquake failed! XD - kkaploon
[+4] [2009-01-09 05:54:19] alex

What about Terminator 3. The female terminator instantly interfaces with any vehicle. And as they accelerate, the pedal gets pushed to the floor too....

(1) The funny thing is that vehicle electronics do allow to accelerate if you know the right CAN commands... the only thing you can't control is steering - Mario Ortegón
I know you can work electronically easily with the cruise control... - alex
(3) her nano technology makes the interface possible. - dotjoe
@Joe ... is that sarcasm ? - alex
(1) No, she's from the future, so why not? Now if it was some random guy doing it with a laptop... - dotjoe
(1) actually cruise control does physically move the pedal in a lot of cars (that have a physical throttle cable) - Dolphin
@Dolphin, yeah actually, I have seen that before. Well... the steering? Does she have some sort of cog on the rack? - alex
... or on her rack? - nickf
[+3] [2008-10-06 16:55:25] casademora

Again, in Hackers, when they show the terminal, they show this 3D rendering of some weird space. But then, they go and speak out loud a unix command character by character ...

While they use the "hunt and peck" method. - Brad Gilbert
I have a friend in the film industry who told me directors insist on characters speaking what they type so the audience "can tell they are doing something". - Dour High Arch
[+3] [2008-10-06 17:49:59] Wedge

Displaying text on the side of a rotating polyhedron.

Why would anyone ever want to read or enter text this way?

(2) compiz-fusion comes to mind - SpoonMeiser
[+3] [2008-10-06 19:18:51] nerdabilly

I was going to mention the Office Space one too. But there's another one from Office Space that I think is even worse. After they write the virus, and Samir is installing it, you see a progress bar that says "Uploading VIRUS_CDEF"

Who the hell would write a virus and call it "virus"? Was he trying to get caught? For that matter, why the progress bar!?

[+3] [2008-10-06 19:44:18] Pete Karl II



(3) lolcode is both awesome(TM) and real(TM) - as in it compiles and therefore not an egregious pop-culture perversion. - Rob Allen
+1 because I love lolcode, even though this is completely off topic :P - Ace
[+3] [2008-10-07 08:28:38] MazarD

Live free or die hard. With a computer you can do almost everything. Control an helicopter remotely, blow up gas pipes in the other side of the city etc etc. Just horrible!

Actually, if you close a valve and leave the pumps on, it can cause something to fail dramatically ;) - TraumaPony
Most any sufficiently high energy system can be destroyed if you can control the machinery. Do things like closing a valve quickly on a rapidly-moving flow and let inertia do the rest. - Loren Pechtel
[+3] [2008-10-07 09:10:17] Andy McCluggage

Swordfish. I do the double keyboard action everytime someone asks what I do. And people say..."What, you're Beethoven from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure?".

[+3] [2008-10-08 11:56:20] Andreas Magnusson

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Firewall [1], or maybe not as it's such a parenthesis in movie history it's probably not worth mentioning again. It made me writhe at the floor in pain though.


(1) Really? Aside from the RC car interfering with the television, I can't think of anything in the film that wasn't plausible. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by the technical accuracy. - Adam Lassek
AH dude, Jerry rigging the scanner in a fax machine to OCR scrolling data on green crt monitor - using an IPOD? Not in a gazillion years, I could have puked. - Binary Worrier
[+3] [2008-10-12 18:08:37] Cliff

I'd have to say 24. Jack Bauer can always get a cell phone and no matter what, there's never any device compatibility issues. Chloe can hack into satellites and remote control camera on traffic lights b ut can't control/stop a virus in her own building I loved the first few seasons but then things started to get redundant.

[+3] [2008-12-06 06:33:47] Eli

The fact that my wife believes that if we had a Deflector Dish, we could simultaneously reroute the microwave, garage-opener, wii, dvr, dvd player, and mechanical cat toys through it every time anything broke.

Nice Voyager technobabble reference - johnc
[+3] [2009-02-03 13:53:21] Neil Aitken

Much as I love the film Pi, I find the construction of Euclid a bit strange.

The room seems to be full of random wires and boards, which all plug into what appears to be a basic microchip, yet this chip is the most powerful processor in the world.

It is the "Ming Mecca" chip, he gets it from the government in the film! It is meant to be a kind of advanced multi-core processor. I always thought the other wires and what not are just to 'hook it up', power, cooling, etc... - Fraser
[+3] [2009-02-22 01:42:48] Michael

I love how software in the movies always seems to have a cool, game-like, 3D interface. sigh Back to work in my boring, two dimensional, windowed world.

[+3] [2009-03-12 05:16:20] Edmund

When programming a game consists of running round in a sparkly game world shooting things. I have a tutoring job where I teach game programming to genuinely interested high school kids and this stereotype has been an immense roadblock.

(2) Your high school kids come in assuming that game programming involves running around shooting things? I think there's more serious problems here... - Adrian Petrescu
An environment that involves programming via actual gameplay would be pretty cool, though. Has nobody created something like that yet? - JAB
[+3] [2009-05-03 09:03:25] tstenner

Die Hard 4.0 (sic).
The villain breaks into the super secret data center with 3 cooling towers to download the financial data of the united states to his external usb drive.

How about the C-4 planted in the crackers' machine? And it only blows when the sap hits enter. - dotjoe
You could attach the C4 as an USB-device and/or put it between the PC and the keyboard, so it isn't that unlikely (compared to the rest of the movie) - tstenner
yes, but wouldn't you notice it? they had to have broke into their house and planted it. Why go through all that when you could just send the hitman to do the job? - dotjoe
[+3] [2009-06-24 19:35:03] Barry Brown

Has no one mentioned how computer programs are written in Star Trek: by telling the computer what you want the program to do? It's not the "telling" part that's strange; it's how the program can be described declaratively in a do-what-I-mean manner.

Do we all secretly wish that this is the future of programming?

(4) Ever tried Prolog? :P - Mavrik
Even the Star Trek computers have their problems with that, mainly when they take things too literally. Remember the Professor Moriarty episode? - JAB
[+3] [2009-09-08 22:05:31] Dave Archer

Jeffrey Deaver in the book "The Blue Nowhere". There's a line that goes something like:

You can always recognise a hacker because they've got callouses on their fingertips from typing so furiously on the keyboard

!!! WTF !!!

[+3] [2009-10-08 18:07:19] rein

If you look carefully in most movies, the monitors don't have the power cord plugged in. Presumably it looks too cluttered.

[+3] [2010-06-28 20:57:17] Sean

One of my friends often refers to my job as "you and your Tron stuff."

That's probably my favorite.

[+3] [2010-06-28 22:08:30] el.pescado

There was Polish movie "Hakerzy" (en "Hackers"), which tells you what are the most powerful hacking tools... Here's most epic scene from that movie [1] along with my translation for those who don't speak Polish:

[naked guy] How are you going?
[nerdy guy] "Fortress".
(nerdy guy puts on his glasses)
[nerdy guy] Classics. Triple firewall. Impregnable.
[naked guy] Did you try Emacs via Sendmail?
[nerdy guy] Yeah, but they let me into fake
[naked guy] Exploits?
[nerdy guy] No vulnerabilities.
[nerdy guy] I have to come up with another idea.
[naked guy] Have a nice flight!

Also, idea that how hackers look and that they get ther supernatural powers by drinking water from watering can seems so exciting;)


[+3] [2010-07-19 23:46:11] Fraser

Triggers on bombs (usually nuclear weapons) that have a countdown timer. I think if you have designed the software/hardware to trigger a nuclear explosion then it is a bit feature creep to add a digital timer to the case...who is it meant to be for!? (other than the camera man to cut to when there is 1 sec left.

(5) If I had to put a countdown timer on a bomb, I'd set it to explode when the countdown reaches 1 minute. That would surprise them :-) - Steve Melnikoff
(1) @Steve Melnikoff: That happened in one episode of NCIS. Some marines tried to defuse a bomb (training), looking at the timer "We’ve got five minutes here." - "Five minutes I can disarm a nuke sub.", then they start working on it and some seconds later it blows up. Then the instructor walks up to them "Never assume that timer is accurate. The bad guys watch movies, too.". That was awesome. :D - Bobby
[+3] [2010-10-20 17:13:44] Prince Ashitaka

An actor in a movie, hacks a government network using Window's media player. ROFL.

(1) well, WMP looks really cool actually. so they are forgiven. not! - Federico klez Culloca
+1 he he... :-) - Prince Ashitaka
[+3] [2010-12-22 16:02:58] Trufa

Chloes's husband morris in 24 cracked "blowfish ciphered file" in approximately 6 seconds.

[+3] [2010-12-24 01:12:37] peoro

In Battlestar Galactica computers are working fine, but they cannot attach two or more computers together: if they create a network Cylones will be able to hack it!

(I wonder what are the computers doing if they cannot communicate? How do they control the ship? How do they get and display images from radars? And how Cylones on another spaceship are able to exploit a wire plugged between two computers? WTF ...)

At a certain point, however, they're forced to create a network because they need a lot of computational power. To make the network it safer, they create a firewall made of several layers of a number of computers plugged together (...!?), and the captain's monitor shows the computer of the firewall turning red as soon as they get hacked (...?!)

Thinking of the senselessness of this thing blows my mind.

[+2] [2008-10-06 18:12:07] Jordan Parmer

I hate how most movies and TV shows continually display scrolling text that occasionally bleep and click.

[+2] [2008-10-06 19:42:29] Justin R.

The book Prey by Michael Crichton was awful.

The code was just absurd. Assuming even for a moment that developers use Greek symbols for variable names (as much as I'd like to have a lambda and delta symbols, my keyboard somehow lacks them, unlike the devs in the book), the blocks didn't even make sense! How difficult would it have been to have one of his lackeys just ask a programmer for something rational?

I knew I should have paid more attention in Lisp class. - Justin R.
You obviously don't write A+ - SLaks
[+2] [2008-10-06 22:46:08] Omer van Kloeten

The sentence: "Wait, let me just hack [noun]."

[+2] [2008-10-07 02:27:27] Robert Elwell

Weird Science, the part where the Wyatt "hacks" into DARPAnet using a phone modem, and proceeds through their cleverly designed semi-3D tunnel, along with barred doors closing and chattering skulls and crossbones along the way.

All that to make Steven Segal's ex girlfriend.

[+2] [2008-10-07 09:36:35] Gene

Not exactly just a programming issue but i find it quite hilarious when in 24 Jack eg. steals a standard phone from a car and some how get live satellite image feed or 3d models for buildings into it in a matter of seconds :)

I would'nt even need the ability to show any data on my phone. I would be satisfied with the bandwith alone.

Not to mention the never ending battery life... - Stuart Helwig
[+2] [2008-10-07 21:03:23] Adrian

I've thought of another!

Banks of Flashing lights

[+2] [2008-10-10 03:10:12] Dashogun

I can't believe nobody has said it yet. Lawnmower Man [1] and it's view of "virtual reality" or "cyberspace".


[+2] [2008-11-27 19:14:06] Uri

When somebody prints something, they click print, reach their hand, and pick the printout immediately. There are startup times, printing times, etc.

[+2] [2008-12-16 20:16:41] fasih.rana

EXPLODING COMPUTERS! (notice the caps) Now wasn't that just ridiculous. Yes I'm talking about Die Hard 4.

(1) Those very same exploding computers have been installed on the bridge of every federation flagship ever since. - Ed Guiness
[+2] [2009-02-03 16:11:30] Thomas

Test driven development.

(5) I don't get it. - Philippe Carriere
[+2] [2009-05-03 08:51:43] Andreas Klinger

Definitly the Second-Life Ghostwhisperer Crossover.

A dead father who returns as a ghost to spend his afterlife time to play with his daughter in a Second Life lookalike.

I mean seriously... Second Life? this offends so many beliefs at once.

+1 I hear ya! - alex
[+2] [2009-05-12 06:43:10] alex

Not sure if this counts, but what about GoldenEye 007 on Nintendo 64?

If you shoot a computer terminal, it blows up with fire!

Though the same goes for an office chair. Perhaps they're packing explosives in them now too!

Same thing seems to happen in just about any space sci-fi show/movie: Whenever the ship gets hit, all of the consoles on the bridge burst into sparks and flame. - RobH
[+2] [2009-07-26 22:25:04] spitfire

Watchmen. Specifically, guessing the password of the smartest man in the world on the first try. Almost ruined an otherwise awesome movie. If Ozymandias was actually the smartest man in the world, wouldn't he at least set up two-factor authentication?

(1) Not that unrealistic -- without going into spoilers, I think Ozymandias wanted them to find out what he was doing. - Andrew Scagnelli
[+2] [2009-08-31 11:15:50] SadSido

When the bad guy wants to destroy all data on a particular computer, he takes his big gun and shoots into the monitor, not the HDD. Seen many times, especially in "secret agents stuff" films.

Might work with an iMac :P - alex
[+2] [2009-09-08 22:41:12] alex_c

No one has mentioned Red Dwarf's " Uncrop [1]" skit?


That's awesome! Take that CSI! - alex one mentioned it because it's obviously a parody of egregious pop culture programming perversions. It is hilarious though. - DisgruntledGoat
[+2] [2009-09-23 15:23:27] D3vtr0n

alt text [1]

When David Lightman (Mathew Broderick) and Stephen Falken (John Wood) raise the DEFCON levels at NORAD to engage in Theaterwide Biotoxic and Chemical Warfare and Global Thermonuclear War with the Soviet Union, in the movie "War Games" (1983).

This is absolutely one of my favorite movies, that I can watch over and over and still enjoy today.

I mean, seriously...Stephen Falken flies Pterodactyl gliders in the woods of Oregon, while hiding from obscure mainframe code he wrote that is going to destroy planet Earth. It doesnt get any more perverted than that folks!


[+2] [2009-09-23 15:38:35] slf

In Firewall (2006) [1] Harrison Ford steals bank money by wiring the light from a scanner to an iPod and holding it up to a CRT inside a bank office to retrieve and save an account number list. To be fair, he did have about 8 hours beforehand to build it. Seriously, WTF.


[+2] [2009-11-18 07:23:23] Randy Levy

Perhaps not the most egregious but my pet peeve is when movies show something being deleted by removing pixels from the UI while the delete is happening. Of course, the delete is finished when all the pixels are gone. I think this is in The Net among others.

Sounds like a fancier version of the usual "Deleting..." dialog box with progress bar. - JAB
[+2] [2010-02-20 02:37:07] Brian Ortiz

Stargate is full of examples, especially Atlantis.

I'd like to know how you write a device driver for a (biological) Wraith hive ship in two minutes in order to interface it with your laptop and then hack the doors or something. Oh and while under gunfire.

[+2] [2010-02-20 03:25:16] t0mm13b

I'm surprised no one has mentioned this...

  • Swordfish, a reference was made to Linus Torvalds (father of Linux), a Finnish guy's passport being shown at the immigration checkpoint, named 'Axl Torvalds', and his laptop was manhandled roughly and he said to the officers - "Be careful, that's expensive equipment" only for the officer to give him a glare, and ends up getting his head blown off a while later when held in custody...I mean "C'mon...what was that about...celebrating the Linux creator then killing him???".....
  • Hackers - Where 'Zero Cool' gets to turn 18 and starts hacking immediately..despite being told by the judge no computers/access to telephones until reach the said age...I was there like "C'mon...where did that come from and him and his mom just moved into a new apartment" and he was dueling with 'Acid Burn' on seizing control of the TV in order for 'Zero Cool' to watch 'The Outer Limits' and to see the robotic arms fighting over the tape....only for 'Zero Cool' to change his handle to 'Crash Override'...sigh...

Best regards, Tom.

[+2] [2010-03-16 15:30:55] John MacIntyre

Something that has always bothered me is how cool programmers don't have a book in sight, but nerdy programmers always live in a library.

I prefer the library thing myself.

[+2] [2010-06-25 06:53:52] mikek3332002

Star Trek

The fact that everybody uses the

  • Same Video Codecs
  • Same Audeo Codecs
  • Same Protocols for Communicating

This even holds in the 'mysterious' delta quadrant(Voyager), that none of the alpha quadrant races has vistited.

(3) Considering they have devices that allow for instantaneous verbal translations to/from any (even previously unknown) languages, translating video and audio streams seem simple. - Aardvark
Yeah I figured that they used the universal translator on the connection. But it is interesting to use it as a reference to see just how powerful the translator is. - mikek3332002
(1) (or how ridiculous the translator is!) - Aardvark
[+2] [2010-06-28 20:53:47] DisgruntledGoat

There was a great example in Neighbours (Australian soap opera) last week. Summer is trying to find information on someone who posted on a dating website.

For some reason their IP address is public. Then she puts it into some kind of IP lookup and finds the address of the user, right down to the street they live on!

That's just a service us Aussies get :P - alex
That's quite possible - Loïc Faure-Lacroix
[+2] [2010-06-28 21:15:43] Betamoo

In Surrogates, Bros Wills takes the chip out of the surrogate head then there is face recognition to log into the laptop, finally he plug a USB Flash Memory to take data from laptop...

That is supposed to be happening in future many hundred years ahead, with surrogates were controlled remotely -and wirelessly-...

  • Why do I need a laptop to make my surrogate use it?!
  • And what is the way to get data out of this laptop? it is an ordinary USB Flash Memory!!

[+2] [2010-06-28 22:01:15] IV.

The Recruit - A computer virus so contagious it can be transmitted via power lines.

[+2] [2010-07-19 23:51:38] Fraser

Weird Science - they create a woman (Kelly LeBrock) by feeding the desired statistics of beauty and great intelligence into a computer and hacking into a government computer for more power, while connecting the computer to a Barbie doll. (Good film though!)

[+2] [2010-07-19 23:58:04] quentin-starin

Boiler Room: "I need your whole C: drive backed up to floppy." After which the whole C: drive gets backed up to a single floppy, in about 15 seconds. At least they didn't forget the obligatory progress bar.

[+1] [2008-10-06 19:18:40] webmat

It wasn't too bad a slip, but at one time in Antitrust, either Ryan Philippe or Rachael Leigh Cook is hacking into a competitor's (iirc) computer on a 10.*.*.* network :-)

Could be an SSH tunnel. - Joe White
[+1] [2008-10-06 22:02:23] dland

I think it was The Net, with Sandra Bullock, where she telnets (!) to a remote server with an IP address of or thereabouts. There were other things wrong with it, but thankfully I have forgotten them.

(2) If the worst computer-related thing you can find about a movie is that they used an illegal IP address (the equivalent of a 555- phone number), then I don't think it should be on this list. - Graeme Perrow
(2) Agreed. They do this deliberately so they don't end up using someone's actual IP address who then gets upset when thousands of people use their bandwidth trying to repeat the hack they saw in the movies. - Sam Meldrum
They should show 127.*.*.* if they are going for an invalid address. - Brad Gilbert
Something wrong with 10.X.X.X and 192.168.X.X? - chaos
(1) Well, the person might accidentally hack their own network. - Colin Mackay
(4) You know what bugs me even more? Those stupid phone numbers that start with 555! You can't even have a phone number starting with 555! I can't believe those Hollywood types are sooooo dumb they can't even figure out a valid phone number! - kyoryu
@kyoryu That is on purpose. It's to stop people from calling random people when they see numbers on the screen. Could be a variety of legal issues if they were directing spammy traffic to people's homes. If I remember correctly, phone companies even encourage that usage. - Jesse Dorsey
(2) @Noctrine: Check your sarcasm detector - it may need calibration. - kyoryu
@kyoryu Yeah, I see that now. :p - Jesse Dorsey
[+1] [2008-10-07 14:38:05] Scott Dillman

X-Files: The Usual Suspects, set in 1989 when the Lone Gunman meet for the first time and dump an encrypted file to a printer, and then scan it back in to decrypt ignoring the hundred or so unprintable characters in the binary file..

Stargate Atlantis: Episode where they show replicator base code scrolling on the screen and it is javascript lifted from a financial site web page..

Although already mentioned earlier I don't think anything can beat the Independence Day virus upload, I think that beats all

[+1] [2008-10-07 22:51:11] Sandro

CSI "I'll make a GUI in Visual Basic to track the Killer's IP address" You tube link to the video [1]


(7) Duplicate of earlier answer... - Dour High Arch
[+1] [2008-10-08 08:41:15] Galwegian

I love the suite of security and software surveillance tools that Sylvester Stallone threw together in The Specialist [1]


[+1] [2009-02-03 09:54:43] johnc

The Bank [1] also mentioned below by nickf

Where the prediction machine constantly has a Mandelbrot set zooming in and out.

It puts me in mind of MYOB or Quicken having a panel than constantly cycles through the functions 1+1=2, 1+2=3, 1+3=4, 1+4=5, 1+5=6


[+1] [2009-02-06 01:36:57] brunoqc

In Disclosure [1], Michael Douglas use virtual reality to browse files and folders, trying to find the truth about something.


[+1] [2009-05-03 06:49:17] MatrixFrog

A few people mentioned 24, and rightly so. What really bothered me, though, is early in the current season when they mispronounced "mainframe." I'm pretty sure everyone puts the accent on the "main" part, right? It sounded like "main frameroom" instead of "mainframe room."

I realize that I'm slightly neurotic about this kind of thing but it was one of those things that really bothers me about 24.

And yet, I keep watching it...

The worst is trying to believe Janeane Garofalo knows what she is talking about. - dotjoe
[+1] [2009-05-03 07:34:34] Overflown

Battle Programmer Shirase [1]

You can find it on youtube, though no link for obvious reasons


Although I agree with you, I do think the creators should get some credit for trying to get it right. - Levi Campbell
[+1] [2009-06-13 19:04:11] anon

There was an episode in csi:miami where a file was encrypted using vigeneres algorithm

(1) Not necessarily so bad - I a quick pinch that would be better than nothing. - tomjen
Wasn't there another CSI episode with the line "I'll write a GUI interface in Visual Basic to see if I can track an IP address". That was certainly a big WTF? - Colin Mackay
[+1] [2009-07-27 19:25:20] Jeffrey Lott

I'm suprised that no one has mentioned this yet, but the movie Stealth and all those other movies about AI's getting hit by something and turning evil.

[+1] [2009-09-08 22:17:09] typeoneerror

I'm probably exposing myself to ridicule here for having seen this, but Smallville (aka Superman) has some amazingly bad perversions. Case in point:

type type type
"oh, Lex is making a bank transfer" [she's "hacked" into the bank system already]
image of progress bar of lex's "transferring funds"
"let me just...type type...there we go"
"I canceled the transfer"

Always something amazing like that.

[+1] [2009-09-23 20:12:11] luvieere

The computer in Echelon Conspiracy... it could guess numbers that came up on casinos roulette, see everything almost everywhere, and basically control a lot of stuff that's... well... implausible for a computer to ever be capable of.

[+1] [2009-09-30 20:34:17] JPVDB

The buzzword-duel in Swordfish was quite gruesome, as was "Axel Torvalds".

[+1] [2009-10-08 18:26:41] Alex


  • "Throwing" a "logic bomb" through the "trap door".
  • The multi screen system is nice, but why the strange spacing? I dont want to have to roll back in my chair and twist my head 60 degrees upwards to see what's on my top-right screen.

(1) So? We throw exceptions. The kernel uses traps. I don’t see the issue with well-chosen metaphors. - Konrad Rudolph
[+1] [2010-05-07 12:25:05] filip-fku

What about John Connor in the Terminator movies? Especially the last one! Plugs into all sorts of hardware designed by the self-aware, super-intelligent, super-scheming SKYNET, and all he needs to do is type in "OVERRIDE" and doors open, turrets shut down, etc.

What about the autonomous motorcycle robots that he knocks over, plugs his USB stick in and he gains control? SKYNET sure failed with some of its designs..

[+1] [2010-05-10 17:22:24] Ronnie Overby

Iron Man 2 had some pretty bad scenes.

Hammer: "Can we get some encrypted passwords put on these [computers]."

Ivon hacks computer (guessed correct password) in less than 15 seconds.

Hammer: "Nevermind he just bypassed the firewalls."

Then there's every scene that Tony Stark interacts with his home-grown projection interface computers, tossing holograms(?) all over the place. Lame.

Lame? That's awesome! - Arve Systad
[+1] [2010-06-24 01:46:06] Evan Plaice

Building Security systems that...

  • use custom color-coded wire-frame GUIs that highlight all of the enabled/disabled systems/sectors of a building's security system
  • can be easily hacked from any by plugging into a random communication line
  • have GPS trackers attached to the security patrols that can accurately track position as well as what floor of the building they're on

[+1] [2010-06-25 07:28:40] Chubas

Recently watched this CSI Miami [1] episode, centered around a videogame. Putting aside the fact that they put one of their officers to play the game to 'see what happened' (instead of reading the pamphlet, or looking for a damn review on the internet), I realized some idiot cliché on movies/TV.

All scenes of a database looking for something HAVE TO DISPLAY ALL THE GODDAMN DATA ON THE SCREEN. Heck, if I designed a system to do a face or fingerprint recognition, the last thing I'd do is to waste CPU cycles by printing everything to screen.


*sigh* this has been posted several times already. - DisgruntledGoat
[+1] [2011-01-18 13:30:07] Kamilos

Fast, long and random typing on keyboard to open one window on the screen!

[0] [2008-10-06 18:49:24] yakdan

Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase

[0] [2008-10-06 19:00:42] James Schek

VR.5 [1].

Not strictly programming, but with a 2400bps modem and a PC, you can alter the programming in your neighbor's brain or contact a comatose relative.


(3) It's a nice way of saying your neighbor is really slow in da head. - Sylverdrag
[0] [2008-10-06 21:43:23] devlord

I HATE THE UIs ON CSI:MIAMI! They're so fake!

CSI the original is the only one that was worth watching. - Brad Gilbert
They should use VB to do a GUI to find an IP instead :P - alex
[0] [2008-10-06 21:59:56] Stuart Helwig

Assassins [1] - there are examples of pretty much every atrocity mentioned here. Big text appearing character by character with sound effects, rediculous resolution, elusive 3 1/2 in floppy disk that can save the world...


[0] [2008-10-07 09:39:40] Mote

Navigation and/or status displays in pretty much all the Sci-Fi movies show assembler code

[0] [2008-10-07 18:38:52] Craig P. Motlin

Terminator 3, when skynet is turned on for the first time. It bypasses every firewall in the world within about two seconds.

(1) Skynet had already spent its time bypassing every firewall in the world. When it was turned 'on' it simply decided to start destroying mankind. - Dalin Seivewright
(2) Jon Skeet bypasses Skynet in his sleep - johnc
Don't diss the power of Skynet, you'll all be sorry some day . . . - Binary Worrier
(2) Ah, well Skynet has "AI" so it can do these things...! - Richard Everett
Actually, perhaps it was just so smart (and had so much computing power) that it could find exploits for every existing firewall on the planet. Makes sense. - wds
(1) It's not even the speed that bothers me so much. It's the assumption that every firewall in the world actually has a security vulnerability. - Craig P. Motlin
(3) Skynet may be asking questions in Stackoverflow right now... - Cesar
[0] [2009-01-06 19:13:52] Glen Solsberry

Clear and Present Danger [1] in which Petey ( Greg Germann [2]) guesses Robert Ritter's ( Henry Czerny [3]) password in about 3 minutes, based on family information that he already knew...


[0] [2009-02-05 23:29:49] CountZero

For polish stack readers: "emacsem przez sendmail"

[0] [2009-09-08 22:43:42] Broken_Window

In National Treasure and many other action movies: How easily the "heroes" get into government networking/surveillance. And what about all the expensive hi-tech hardware they have? Who did pay for that?

[0] [2010-06-25 07:29:04] Shailesh Tainwala

'Wargames' and 'Wargames II: The dead code'.

If you've had the misfortune of having watched them, you know what I mean.

[-1] [2008-10-06 18:18:00] Chris Vest

Noone's mentioned Tron yet? Apparently, programs are little people that run around in glowing costumes.

Meh. Tron is okay because it's obviously fantasy and isn't really making pretensions otherwise. "Gritty", "hard-edged" cop shows with fantasy technology are another matter. - chaos
When my wife and I went to Tron, we realized afterward that we were the only ones in the theater who'd been laughing like that. We wondered if other people thought we'd been smoking something illegal. - David Thornley
I think tron is pretty cool. I don't know if you're talking about the sequel or the original. But both seems good to me. I wish I could meet zombie processes - Loïc Faure-Lacroix
[-1] [2010-06-25 22:21:38] Ronnie Overby
(2) Um, that video is private... plus a description or something would be useful. - DisgruntledGoat
[-4] [2008-10-07 18:48:29] Pascal Paradis

Reboot [1], the action-adventure television series.


Reboot isn't trying to pass off the computer use as legitimate. - Flame
Reboot does do some strange things with "The Net", but mostly it's tongue-in-cheek humour aimed at kids. e.g.: Dot Matrix's little brother Enzo grows up, and his shirt changes from displaying "01" to "10". By geeks for geeks! - Rick
All the name convetion in that tv show are cool. I rememember an episode with detective Fax Modem and Dr. Scsi. (Fox Mulder and Dr. Scully) - Loïc Faure-Lacroix
[-8] [2009-05-03 06:56:45] Joe

Good to see post-release StackOverflow still gives all the karma to stupid useless questions and answers!

(3) It's a community wiki, no karma for this. Read FAQ. - Bratch
@Bratch : Not completly true. If the question starts as a non-wiki and then changes to a wiki, voted answers generate rep. I'm still getting rep for an answer in a wiki which started as a normal question. FAQ doesn't mention this. - Philippe Carriere