Sunday, March 06, 2005


Movie Computers

So Mikal didn't much like my last blog post. He said it wasn't funny enough. Hopefully this will be more to his liking...

Here's a short bit of dialog (as best I remember it) from an episode of CSI: Miami a week or so ago:

Lab Goon 1: "What have you got there?"
Lab Goon 2: "Some tourist was taking shots of his friends with a digital camera. We grabbed the camera in case he caught any with our victim in them."
Lab Goon 1: "To bad he was facing the wrong way the whole time. Nothing here."
Lab Goon 2: "I'm not so sure. I'm going to try zooming in to see if there's anything reflected in the people's eyes..."

And then I stopped watching.

I'm usually pretty good with the whole suspension of disbelief thing when it comes to movies or TV shows. I'm prepared to except that sometimes there are obvious questions you're not meant to ask. And I know that most script writers don't have a detailed knowledge of the topic they're writing on, so they're bound to make mistakes. But it just amazes me how wrong they consistantly get computers and technology in general.

Some interesting things I've "learnt" about computers in the movies:
  1. The more monitors you have, the more powerful your computer
  2. Randomly smashing keys will help you track down a hacker. If you can't smash enough keys fast enough, get a friend to help!
  3. When someone hacks your machine, it conviently displays all the files they're looking at on your monitor.
  4. If you want to compare to finger prints, DNA smaples or other randomly unique things, the bast way is to manually drag one image over the other. If they're a match, they'll line up perfectly.
  5. No matter the resolution, you can always "zoom in" on an image and "clean it up" so you can see tiny details.
The last one is probably my favourite. Just once I'd love to see a movie where the Special Agent guy says "Can you zoom in on that licence plate?" and the tech guy taps his keyboard for a second, and the picture on the screen changes to a blocky, fuzzy image of a car. "Can you clean it up?" "Um, no..."

Oh, and by the way, I really want one of those computers that turns itself on and has a big flashing envelope every time I get an email.

I have a couple of related links. A couple of years ago I discovered a game called Uplink, made by an indy company called Introversion. The cool thing about Uplink is that they set out to make a game where you basically play a hacker from a bad computer movie. There's a Mac version made by Ambrosia (who also make Escape Velocity, probably the coolest shareware game I've ever played).

The other link is Bad Movie Physics. Which is pretty amusing, even if he does attempt to apply real world physics to technology in Star Wars.

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