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What code DOESN’T do in real life (That it does in the movies)


I saw this on Digg, and almost died laughing out loud (In the middle of Networking Class) when I read it.  If you have ever done any coding before Im sure you will find the humor in this story.  Check HERE for the original link.

What code DOESN’T do in real life (that it does in the movies)

Matt craps on a bunch of ridiculous ideas about programming and code that Hollywood can’t seem to stay away from. Following up our article: Top 20 Hackers in Film History and Vibrant’s Top 10 Servers in the movies, I felt obligated to dispel some of the notions about programming that these movies endorse.  I understand that Hollywood needs to dress things up to make them more entertaining, but in the case of programmers, code, and hackers they’ve done more than dress things up  – they’ve morphed a little stuffed teddy bear into a cybernetic polar bear covered in christmas lights and phosphorescent hieroglyphics with a fog machine pumping rainbow smoke out of his ass.   In other words, they’ve layered a ridiculous amount of extravagance on top of something that in reality is very grounded.

1. Code does not move
In films and television code is always sailing across the screen at incredible speeds; it’s presented as an indecipherable stream of letters and numbers that make perfect sense to the programmer but dumbfound everyone else.  I understand that to the non-savvy person the abilities of a programmer might seem amazingly complex, but do they honestly think we can read shit that isn’t sitting still?  It’d be like trying to read six newspapers flying around in a tornado.    Sure, I can watch a kernel compile, tail a log file, or simply monitor the scrolling output of a program – but the most value I get out of those activities is when execution stops and I can actually scroll back to read what the hell happened (unless the output was going slow enough I could read it as it happened).

2. Code is not green text on a black background
Sure, code can be green text on a black background if you want it to, but most programmers use syntax highlighting and sysadmins configure their shell to use ANSI color.

3. Code has structure
According to the movies all programmers abhor the space bar and enter key.  In the real world code has structure – it’s got line breaks, spacing, and indentation.  Granted, we’ve all written our share of unreadable hacks: I used to write a lot of perl and I had a knack for writing nasty regular expressions that moved many of my successors to committing seppuku, but those days are over.  It’s all about clarity now.

4. Code is not three dimensional
Remember in “hackers” when the gibson is depicted as a three dimensional city that the hackers must navigate through? Bullshit! We may use a dash of color in our shell to make things a bit clearer, but last I checked my terminal app doesn’t require OpenGL.   I’m working here, bitches – I’m not playing quake.

5. Code does not make blip noises as it appears on the screen
This goes for ANY text, not just code.   When text appears on my monitor it doesn’t make blip sounds – this isn’t 1902 (or whenever monitors used to do that).
This is one of the most common offenses in Hollywood films, almost every movie that has a scene where a character is composing an email or surfing the net has the text make blippity-blip sounds as it appears.  Do they have any idea how fucking irritating that would be in real life?    This article alone would be like thirty thousand blippity-blips.

6. Code cannot be cracked by an 8 year old kid in a matter of seconds
Sorry, no.  Just no.

7. Not all code is meant to be cracked
Hollywood loves to endorse the notion that programming, encryption, and complex computing in general are all the same thing: a jumble of secretive data that must be broken by a seriously (srsly!) clever hacker.  This is somewhat understandable because the term “code” itself is ambigious.  In the realm of computing, code typically has two definitions:

  1. The symbolic arrangement of instructions that a computer can understand – like “Your PHP code is shit”
  2. The disguised transformation of a message – “The Navajo code talkers in WWII”

Hollywood usually applies #2 to all of a programmer’s computing activities.  There are no windows to drag, no enclosing brackets or IF statements, there’s no desktop.  Everything on the computer takes the form of an encrypted message, which must make looking at hot steamy pr0n a real bitch (md5 makes me flaccid).

8. Code isn’t just 0100110 010101 10100 011
Sure, when you get down to the binary level it’s a bunch of 1’s and 0’s, but who does that?  I’ve never met anyone who codes binary.
Hey Hollywood directors: programmers use this neat thing called the ALPHABET.  It’s got letters that you put together to form words.  We even put spaces between those words (see #3).

Also, the whole joke about everything on a computer being just a bunch of 1’s and 0’s has become painfully not funny.  It ranks right up there with the joke about the user who uses his cdrom tray as a cupholder, I’m pretty sure I’d heard that joke a thousand times by 1997.   Just because all data on a computer is ultimately represented by one or a zero doesn’t mean that the basis behind it is as simple as a one or a zero.  That’s like saying all humanity ultimately boils down to a bunch of carbon atoms (or whatever the hell we’re made of), so the next time someone steals my car I can laugh it off and say “Oh those silly carbon atoms!”

9. People who write code use mice
According to Hollywood most programmers haven’t discovered how to use a mouse.   Sure, we type fast, but a mouse is a very useful tool and there’s no reason we’d abandon it.  While we’re dispelling stereotypes, I’d also like to say that not all programmers are hot-pocket eating virgins who play WoW.  Some of us exercise and have active social lives.  Some have even had SEX! Holy Crap!

10. Most code is not inherently cross platform
Remember in Independence Day when whatshisface-math-guy writes a virus that works on both his apple laptop AND an alien mothership?  Bullshit!
If real life were like film I’d be able to port wordpress to my toaster using a cat5 cable and a bag of glitter.

Any others you can think of?

You might want to continue reading through the comments on Drivl as well as on the original article over on digg.  A bunch of programmers have a great time with this one…can you think of anything to add?

Ian

This is my blog. I started it back in 2006 when I was finishing my undergrad at SDSU, kept going as I started my career and completed my MBA, and what do you know I'm still updating over 10 years later... It contains a little bit of everything about me - I'm an opinionated asshole sometimes, definitely a nerd, a gamer, a husband, a manager for a consulting company, a DJ and a musician, a grease monkey and a motorcycle rider...and a whole bunch of other things that probably are too offensive to mention. This blog has a lot of stuff I find funny, a little I find serious, and tons of information about my various and plentiful hobbies. I hope you find something here that's interesting to you. I'd love to hear from you, so feel free to comment or contact me! Thanks for stopping by!

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  • Huruey

    Nice list 😀

    11. Who dramatically hits Return?
    It is quite common, a programmer is typing away quickly, and suddenly stops, there is then a delay and the programmer straightens out their finger, and it falls to the Return key. What, seriously, is the point?

  • Huruey

    Nice list 😀

    11. Who dramatically hits Return?
    It is quite common, a programmer is typing away quickly, and suddenly stops, there is then a delay and the programmer straightens out their finger, and it falls to the Return key. What, seriously, is the point?

  • Huruey

    Nice list 😀

    11. Who dramatically hits Return?
    It is quite common, a programmer is typing away quickly, and suddenly stops, there is then a delay and the programmer straightens out their finger, and it falls to the Return key. What, seriously, is the point?

  • This is pretty awesome, but http://www.chatdump.com is wicked crazy.

  • This is pretty awesome, but http://www.chatdump.com is wicked crazy.

  • This is pretty awesome, but http://www.chatdump.com is wicked crazy.

  • great list!

    @Huruey: I just hit dramatically the F5 or F6 key and hope the code compiles… (to find out which ide i’m currently using is up to you 🙂

  • great list!

    @Huruey: I just hit dramatically the F5 or F6 key and hope the code compiles… (to find out which ide i’m currently using is up to you 🙂

  • great list!

    @Huruey: I just hit dramatically the F5 or F6 key and hope the code compiles… (to find out which ide i’m currently using is up to you 🙂

  • Ralph

    My fave is Hugh Jackman, programming in ‘Swordfish’. He’s dancin’ around and typing like mad using only the middle-row of keys. When asked how he accomplishes such amazing things: “It just comes to me–I don’t know how”.

  • Ralph

    My fave is Hugh Jackman, programming in ‘Swordfish’. He’s dancin’ around and typing like mad using only the middle-row of keys. When asked how he accomplishes such amazing things: “It just comes to me–I don’t know how”.

  • Ralph

    My fave is Hugh Jackman, programming in ‘Swordfish’. He’s dancin’ around and typing like mad using only the middle-row of keys. When asked how he accomplishes such amazing things: “It just comes to me–I don’t know how”.

  • 4L3X

    dude, I dramatically hit the return button. I’m just about to send my cross platform binary virus to the alien mother-ship it sure as hell is going to be dramatic.

  • 4L3X

    dude, I dramatically hit the return button. I’m just about to send my cross platform binary virus to the alien mother-ship it sure as hell is going to be dramatic.

  • 4L3X

    dude, I dramatically hit the return button. I’m just about to send my cross platform binary virus to the alien mother-ship it sure as hell is going to be dramatic.

  • Alchemist

    Some of us actually enjoy sex, and can drink amongst the best of them.

    Oh, and the sterotype, of all “computer geeks” running around with packets full of pens in their top pockets needs to stop. I mean common, really!

    But then again, the small minded people of Hollywood find the dumbest things to amuse themselfs.

    Just remember Mr Director, its us “computers geeks” that are doing all your special effects and 5.1 surround sound, so best you think about that before you make us compile your crap ideas again

  • Alchemist

    Some of us actually enjoy sex, and can drink amongst the best of them.

    Oh, and the sterotype, of all “computer geeks” running around with packets full of pens in their top pockets needs to stop. I mean common, really!

    But then again, the small minded people of Hollywood find the dumbest things to amuse themselfs.

    Just remember Mr Director, its us “computers geeks” that are doing all your special effects and 5.1 surround sound, so best you think about that before you make us compile your crap ideas again

  • Alchemist

    Some of us actually enjoy sex, and can drink amongst the best of them.

    Oh, and the sterotype, of all “computer geeks” running around with packets full of pens in their top pockets needs to stop. I mean common, really!

    But then again, the small minded people of Hollywood find the dumbest things to amuse themselfs.

    Just remember Mr Director, its us “computers geeks” that are doing all your special effects and 5.1 surround sound, so best you think about that before you make us compile your crap ideas again

  • Tom

    12. Programs don’t always look nice
    Ever seen those nifty CSI thingies where they browse a face- or fingerprint database?
    You actually SEE the computer checking for equal faces and prints.
    Also all computers in films and series have cool animations and graphics in the most useless places.
    Usually a very specialized program (not for personal use) has NO cool graphics, NO animations, you have to be glad with a progress indicator.
    Those things slow down and are of no use. The product doesnt have to look good if its only for business use.
    Well I guess just a progress bar wouldnt look good on tv :/

  • Tom

    12. Programs don’t always look nice
    Ever seen those nifty CSI thingies where they browse a face- or fingerprint database?
    You actually SEE the computer checking for equal faces and prints.
    Also all computers in films and series have cool animations and graphics in the most useless places.
    Usually a very specialized program (not for personal use) has NO cool graphics, NO animations, you have to be glad with a progress indicator.
    Those things slow down and are of no use. The product doesnt have to look good if its only for business use.
    Well I guess just a progress bar wouldnt look good on tv :/

  • Tom

    12. Programs don’t always look nice
    Ever seen those nifty CSI thingies where they browse a face- or fingerprint database?
    You actually SEE the computer checking for equal faces and prints.
    Also all computers in films and series have cool animations and graphics in the most useless places.
    Usually a very specialized program (not for personal use) has NO cool graphics, NO animations, you have to be glad with a progress indicator.
    Those things slow down and are of no use. The product doesnt have to look good if its only for business use.
    Well I guess just a progress bar wouldnt look good on tv :/

  • Ian

    Haha…5.1 surround sound? Im running 6.1 surround around here! lol

  • Ian

    Haha…5.1 surround sound? Im running 6.1 surround around here! lol

  • Ian

    Haha…5.1 surround sound? Im running 6.1 surround around here! lol

  • Naomi

    And, I’d like to add, some of us code monkeys are girls. And not the rubbish kind of girls who hit three keys and manage to infest the computer with virus after virus. No! Some of us even know how to write functional and elegant code.
    In your face, Hollywood!

  • Naomi

    And, I’d like to add, some of us code monkeys are girls. And not the rubbish kind of girls who hit three keys and manage to infest the computer with virus after virus. No! Some of us even know how to write functional and elegant code.
    In your face, Hollywood!

  • Naomi

    And, I’d like to add, some of us code monkeys are girls. And not the rubbish kind of girls who hit three keys and manage to infest the computer with virus after virus. No! Some of us even know how to write functional and elegant code.
    In your face, Hollywood!

  • ron mexico

    How would a girl infest a computer with viruses? Without porn?
    yeah, not even possible

    What is Helen Keller’s favorite color?

    Corduroy

  • ron mexico

    How would a girl infest a computer with viruses? Without porn?
    yeah, not even possible

    What is Helen Keller’s favorite color?

    Corduroy

  • ron mexico

    How would a girl infest a computer with viruses? Without porn?
    yeah, not even possible

    What is Helen Keller’s favorite color?

    Corduroy

  • Benjamin

    I was watching a episode of NCIS, and the computer Abby was on was being hacked into, she started madly tapping away at the keyboard trying to stop the hacker, so then (and heres the kicker) this other NCIS guy jumps on the keyboard with her, so she has the right half and he has the left half, and they both are franticly trying different things to try and stock this hacker.

    Anyone else see the problem with this?

  • Benjamin

    I was watching a episode of NCIS, and the computer Abby was on was being hacked into, she started madly tapping away at the keyboard trying to stop the hacker, so then (and heres the kicker) this other NCIS guy jumps on the keyboard with her, so she has the right half and he has the left half, and they both are franticly trying different things to try and stock this hacker.

    Anyone else see the problem with this?

  • Benjamin

    I was watching a episode of NCIS, and the computer Abby was on was being hacked into, she started madly tapping away at the keyboard trying to stop the hacker, so then (and heres the kicker) this other NCIS guy jumps on the keyboard with her, so she has the right half and he has the left half, and they both are franticly trying different things to try and stock this hacker.

    Anyone else see the problem with this?

  • Wait, you CAN port wordpress to your toaster using a cat5 cable and a bag of glitter:

    http://laughingsquid.com/netbsd-toaster/

  • Wait, you CAN port wordpress to your toaster using a cat5 cable and a bag of glitter:

    http://laughingsquid.com/netbsd-toaster/

  • Eudoxie

    “According to Hollywood most programmers haven’t discovered how to use a mouse. Sure, we type fast, but a mouse is a very useful tool and there’s no reason we’d abandon it. While we’re dispelling stereotypes, I’d also like to say that not all programmers are hot-pocket eating virgins who play WoW. Some of us exercise and have active social lives. Some have even had SEX! Holy Crap!”

    Actually, a large amount of programmers (including me) use vim and other such editors, and thus have no need to touch use the mouse. It would only slow down the programming process to have to leave the keyboard and use sluggish constructs such as dialogs and scroll bars.

  • Eudoxie

    “According to Hollywood most programmers haven’t discovered how to use a mouse. Sure, we type fast, but a mouse is a very useful tool and there’s no reason we’d abandon it. While we’re dispelling stereotypes, I’d also like to say that not all programmers are hot-pocket eating virgins who play WoW. Some of us exercise and have active social lives. Some have even had SEX! Holy Crap!”

    Actually, a large amount of programmers (including me) use vim and other such editors, and thus have no need to touch use the mouse. It would only slow down the programming process to have to leave the keyboard and use sluggish constructs such as dialogs and scroll bars.

  • First of all, if everything were true to life in film, nobody would watch it.
    Second, it is a stereotype and anyone with half a brain knows that. so what’s the point in posting about those “silly hollywood writers” except to congratulate yourself about how you’re so much more enlightened than everyone else about this elite skill – programming. I think the person who posted this originally is more like the stereotype than he would like to admit…
    Stop worrying about whether the code is green or not and just enjoy the movie!

    All the best,

  • First of all, if everything were true to life in film, nobody would watch it.
    Second, it is a stereotype and anyone with half a brain knows that. so what’s the point in posting about those “silly hollywood writers” except to congratulate yourself about how you’re so much more enlightened than everyone else about this elite skill – programming. I think the person who posted this originally is more like the stereotype than he would like to admit…
    Stop worrying about whether the code is green or not and just enjoy the movie!

    All the best,

  • First of all, if everything were true to life in film, nobody would watch it.
    Second, it is a stereotype and anyone with half a brain knows that. so what’s the point in posting about those “silly hollywood writers” except to congratulate yourself about how you’re so much more enlightened than everyone else about this elite skill – programming. I think the person who posted this originally is more like the stereotype than he would like to admit…
    Stop worrying about whether the code is green or not and just enjoy the movie!

    All the best,

  • Laith

    OK, I agree with you, these things are not real but it would be cool if they were real.
    Imagine if the code was like th green rain in matrix… When I was using QBASIC long time ago I used to set my screen to show green text on a black background and I still try to make my windows or linux like that, but now I shifted to red on black, check Illegal World Don’t you like the design? Don’t you wish if this was the theme of your computer?
    Code would be so awesome if it was 3D, actually, the whole computer world would be better if it was 3D, imagin you can navigate between files by walking… And each function is in a different room, …etc
    Once I made a program that makes keyboard typing sound when you type, it was so cool, and my C++ programs usually look something like:
    cout

  • Laith

    OK, I agree with you, these things are not real but it would be cool if they were real.
    Imagine if the code was like th green rain in matrix… When I was using QBASIC long time ago I used to set my screen to show green text on a black background and I still try to make my windows or linux like that, but now I shifted to red on black, check Illegal World Don’t you like the design? Don’t you wish if this was the theme of your computer?
    Code would be so awesome if it was 3D, actually, the whole computer world would be better if it was 3D, imagin you can navigate between files by walking… And each function is in a different room, …etc
    Once I made a program that makes keyboard typing sound when you type, it was so cool, and my C++ programs usually look something like:
    cout

  • Laith

    OK, I agree with you, these things are not real but it would be cool if they were real.
    Imagine if the code was like th green rain in matrix… When I was using QBASIC long time ago I used to set my screen to show green text on a black background and I still try to make my windows or linux like that, but now I shifted to red on black, check Illegal World Don’t you like the design? Don’t you wish if this was the theme of your computer?
    Code would be so awesome if it was 3D, actually, the whole computer world would be better if it was 3D, imagin you can navigate between files by walking… And each function is in a different room, …etc
    Once I made a program that makes keyboard typing sound when you type, it was so cool, and my C++ programs usually look something like:
    cout

  • dimondwoof

    I love it when people are typing away feverishly in the process of “hacking” something. Like they don’t need to write a program and let IT hack. If they can just type fast enough, they can break into any code. LMAO

  • dimondwoof

    I love it when people are typing away feverishly in the process of “hacking” something. Like they don’t need to write a program and let IT hack. If they can just type fast enough, they can break into any code. LMAO

  • dimondwoof

    I love it when people are typing away feverishly in the process of “hacking” something. Like they don’t need to write a program and let IT hack. If they can just type fast enough, they can break into any code. LMAO

  • Sad to say, I set my terminal windows to green on black because when I first started that’s what terminals had (that or amber on black but that just always stuck me as nasty) and I got used to it. Besides, it also makes the terminal windows easily distinguishable from all the other windows I usually have open.

    Umm, about the Independance Day reference. I never took it that he was actually running the virus on his Mac. I always took it as he had built an interface unit between his Mac and the alien computer and was just uploading from his Mac via the interface. Similar to uploading binaries to a remote server.

  • Sad to say, I set my terminal windows to green on black because when I first started that’s what terminals had (that or amber on black but that just always stuck me as nasty) and I got used to it. Besides, it also makes the terminal windows easily distinguishable from all the other windows I usually have open.

    Umm, about the Independance Day reference. I never took it that he was actually running the virus on his Mac. I always took it as he had built an interface unit between his Mac and the alien computer and was just uploading from his Mac via the interface. Similar to uploading binaries to a remote server.

  • Sad to say, I set my terminal windows to green on black because when I first started that’s what terminals had (that or amber on black but that just always stuck me as nasty) and I got used to it. Besides, it also makes the terminal windows easily distinguishable from all the other windows I usually have open.

    Umm, about the Independance Day reference. I never took it that he was actually running the virus on his Mac. I always took it as he had built an interface unit between his Mac and the alien computer and was just uploading from his Mac via the interface. Similar to uploading binaries to a remote server.

  • buda

    I actually do code in binary its called Assembly lang… or low level prog its so you nerds can type words and make them mean something without me you’d be sticking your thumbs up your asses saying wtf

  • buda

    I actually do code in binary its called Assembly lang… or low level prog its so you nerds can type words and make them mean something without me you’d be sticking your thumbs up your asses saying wtf

  • buda

    I actually do code in binary its called Assembly lang… or low level prog its so you nerds can type words and make them mean something without me you’d be sticking your thumbs up your asses saying wtf

  • James

    Another one that irritates me is the way that they’ll take a security camera film (they do this in 24 and Alias a lot) and the boss tells the computer programmer to enhance the image so they can see the guy’s face. You can’t do that crap. A certain amount of visual information is captured by a camera when it takes the shot; you can’t get something that’s not there to begin with.

  • James

    Another one that irritates me is the way that they’ll take a security camera film (they do this in 24 and Alias a lot) and the boss tells the computer programmer to enhance the image so they can see the guy’s face. You can’t do that crap. A certain amount of visual information is captured by a camera when it takes the shot; you can’t get something that’s not there to begin with.

  • James

    Another one that irritates me is the way that they’ll take a security camera film (they do this in 24 and Alias a lot) and the boss tells the computer programmer to enhance the image so they can see the guy’s face. You can’t do that crap. A certain amount of visual information is captured by a camera when it takes the shot; you can’t get something that’s not there to begin with.

  • Mod_Man

    “My fave is Hugh Jackman, programming in ‘Swordfish’. He’s dancin’ around and typing like mad using only the middle-row of keys. When asked how he accomplishes such amazing things: “It just comes to me–I don’t know how”.”

    I must admit i do this……

  • Mod_Man

    “My fave is Hugh Jackman, programming in ‘Swordfish’. He’s dancin’ around and typing like mad using only the middle-row of keys. When asked how he accomplishes such amazing things: “It just comes to me–I don’t know how”.”

    I must admit i do this……

  • Mod_Man

    “My fave is Hugh Jackman, programming in ‘Swordfish’. He’s dancin’ around and typing like mad using only the middle-row of keys. When asked how he accomplishes such amazing things: “It just comes to me–I don’t know how”.”

    I must admit i do this……

  • Nooby

    I must admit, I don’t know how to hack or anything, but I see your point w/ how it’s annoying.

  • Nooby

    I must admit, I don’t know how to hack or anything, but I see your point w/ how it’s annoying.

  • Nooby

    I must admit, I don’t know how to hack or anything, but I see your point w/ how it’s annoying.

  • Aidan

    Another gem is when a wrong password is entered into a computer – a huge, flashing “ACCESS DENIED” appears on screen. Yeah right! Of course the hero manages to guess the password in two or three attempts.

  • Aidan

    Another gem is when a wrong password is entered into a computer – a huge, flashing “ACCESS DENIED” appears on screen. Yeah right! Of course the hero manages to guess the password in two or three attempts.

  • Aidan

    Another gem is when a wrong password is entered into a computer – a huge, flashing “ACCESS DENIED” appears on screen. Yeah right! Of course the hero manages to guess the password in two or three attempts.

  • James A. Calwell III

    13. Programmers are not perfect typists.
    Hollywood programmers (scratch that, all computer users) never make typos. Most of them also have typing speeds of at least 45 WPM.

    14. People don’t use 256 DPI text.
    This may just be for the sake of the screen, but I don’t know of anyone who uses text larger than 120 DPI. I don’t even know of anyone who uses the Extra Large font variants of the classic Windows themes.

    15. Most programs are not colorful.
    This may be just me, but two-thirds of programs I see in movies are pastel colored.

    16. It isn’t possible to sharpen an image to make conclusive photographic evidence when zoomed in more than 4x, much less that of grainy security camera stills.
    The father of a friend of mine believes that an infinite amount of image data is “stored in the pixels” or something like that.

  • James A. Calwell III

    13. Programmers are not perfect typists.
    Hollywood programmers (scratch that, all computer users) never make typos. Most of them also have typing speeds of at least 45 WPM.

    14. People don’t use 256 DPI text.
    This may just be for the sake of the screen, but I don’t know of anyone who uses text larger than 120 DPI. I don’t even know of anyone who uses the Extra Large font variants of the classic Windows themes.

    15. Most programs are not colorful.
    This may be just me, but two-thirds of programs I see in movies are pastel colored.

    16. It isn’t possible to sharpen an image to make conclusive photographic evidence when zoomed in more than 4x, much less that of grainy security camera stills.
    The father of a friend of mine believes that an infinite amount of image data is “stored in the pixels” or something like that.

  • James A. Calwell III

    13. Programmers are not perfect typists.
    Hollywood programmers (scratch that, all computer users) never make typos. Most of them also have typing speeds of at least 45 WPM.

    14. People don’t use 256 DPI text.
    This may just be for the sake of the screen, but I don’t know of anyone who uses text larger than 120 DPI. I don’t even know of anyone who uses the Extra Large font variants of the classic Windows themes.

    15. Most programs are not colorful.
    This may be just me, but two-thirds of programs I see in movies are pastel colored.

    16. It isn’t possible to sharpen an image to make conclusive photographic evidence when zoomed in more than 4x, much less that of grainy security camera stills.
    The father of a friend of mine believes that an infinite amount of image data is “stored in the pixels” or something like that.

  • Chewy

    Any computer in a forensic lab or police station will always have software that will always display:

    A quickly loading progress bar that floats above the center of the screen

    Flashing animations running vertically up a criminal’s mugshot photo

    Has a function that is able to match fingerprints in a matter of seconds by quickly comparing (and displaying) every fingerprint in the country in rapid succession.

    The computer can only be operated by the only geeky guy (and every once in awhile a geeky girl) in the lab who inevitably hits on the main character after impressing them with their geekworthiness

    The person operating the computer will rapidly pound on the keyboard to navigate the application even though the interface looks as if it was made for people who find OSX to be “too techy and not pointy-and-clicky enough”

  • Chewy

    Any computer in a forensic lab or police station will always have software that will always display:

    A quickly loading progress bar that floats above the center of the screen

    Flashing animations running vertically up a criminal’s mugshot photo

    Has a function that is able to match fingerprints in a matter of seconds by quickly comparing (and displaying) every fingerprint in the country in rapid succession.

    The computer can only be operated by the only geeky guy (and every once in awhile a geeky girl) in the lab who inevitably hits on the main character after impressing them with their geekworthiness

    The person operating the computer will rapidly pound on the keyboard to navigate the application even though the interface looks as if it was made for people who find OSX to be “too techy and not pointy-and-clicky enough”

  • Chewy

    Any computer in a forensic lab or police station will always have software that will always display:

    A quickly loading progress bar that floats above the center of the screen

    Flashing animations running vertically up a criminal’s mugshot photo

    Has a function that is able to match fingerprints in a matter of seconds by quickly comparing (and displaying) every fingerprint in the country in rapid succession.

    The computer can only be operated by the only geeky guy (and every once in awhile a geeky girl) in the lab who inevitably hits on the main character after impressing them with their geekworthiness

    The person operating the computer will rapidly pound on the keyboard to navigate the application even though the interface looks as if it was made for people who find OSX to be “too techy and not pointy-and-clicky enough”

  • Phred

    Thank you to buda for the correction on assembly lang.

    when working on hardware with limited memory, every bit counts, and you have to program in assembly.

    kinda like dos in windows. outdated? yes. essential? YES

  • Ram

    “I actually do code in binary its called Assembly lang… or low level prog its so you nerds can type words and make them mean something without me you’d be sticking your thumbs up your asses saying wtf”

    Last time I checked assembly was just another way to avoid coding in BINARY.

    True, it is low level, but so are you if you can’t distinguish between assembly and binary. 😀

  • Ram

    “I actually do code in binary its called Assembly lang… or low level prog its so you nerds can type words and make them mean something without me you’d be sticking your thumbs up your asses saying wtf”

    Last time I checked assembly was just another way to avoid coding in BINARY.

    True, it is low level, but so are you if you can’t distinguish between assembly and binary. 😀

  • Good point, Ram. Typically speaking, no on codes in binary, and assembly an abstraction that precisely serves that purpose.

    And yes, you can use programs to enhance images. It’s done all the time. Just try convolving a sharpen edge kernel over a blurry license plate photo taken by a traffic camera and — voila — you might have some legible letters.

  • Good point, Ram. Typically speaking, no on codes in binary, and assembly an abstraction that precisely serves that purpose.

    And yes, you can use programs to enhance images. It’s done all the time. Just try convolving a sharpen edge kernel over a blurry license plate photo taken by a traffic camera and — voila — you might have some legible letters.

  • momoTV

    Yeah, its possible to ‘enhance’ an image, in that – adjust existing data to decipher certain parts of it more clearly, but you cannot zoom into something thats not there in the first place. I use Photoshop and Visual Effects software everyday and let me assure you, when you zoom in, you are just zoomming into exisiting data (pixels). Contrary to Hollywood Myth you can’t zoom into some part fo the image that was never recorded in the first place. Also when you do run ‘sharpen’ and other filters through images, it is ultimately a mathematical calculation and or techniques used to filter the image – its results are not necessarily accurate.

  • momoTV

    Yeah, its possible to ‘enhance’ an image, in that – adjust existing data to decipher certain parts of it more clearly, but you cannot zoom into something thats not there in the first place. I use Photoshop and Visual Effects software everyday and let me assure you, when you zoom in, you are just zoomming into exisiting data (pixels). Contrary to Hollywood Myth you can’t zoom into some part fo the image that was never recorded in the first place. Also when you do run ‘sharpen’ and other filters through images, it is ultimately a mathematical calculation and or techniques used to filter the image – its results are not necessarily accurate.

  • Greg

    I must admit, there have been a few select circumstances in which I coded in _actual_ binary when dealing with embedded systems, but as Ram and Jason say, this is typically never the case, and assembly is a far cry from writing binary-format machine words.

  • Greg

    I must admit, there have been a few select circumstances in which I coded in _actual_ binary when dealing with embedded systems, but as Ram and Jason say, this is typically never the case, and assembly is a far cry from writing binary-format machine words.

  • Kaspar

    Your missing the point about the enhancement. I worked on enhancement a while ago and yes you can sharpen up images that are blurred or slightly unfocsed.

    BUT

    In one of those forensic dramas I seen they started on a black and white still from a security camera of a guy maybe 15ft away. The reflection in one eye was enhanced to reveal another person was present on the other side of the camera view.

    Convolve all you like if you can get one or two pixel to reveal a humanoid shape your a legend. A lying cheating legend but a legend none the less

  • Kaspar

    Your missing the point about the enhancement. I worked on enhancement a while ago and yes you can sharpen up images that are blurred or slightly unfocsed.

    BUT

    In one of those forensic dramas I seen they started on a black and white still from a security camera of a guy maybe 15ft away. The reflection in one eye was enhanced to reveal another person was present on the other side of the camera view.

    Convolve all you like if you can get one or two pixel to reveal a humanoid shape your a legend. A lying cheating legend but a legend none the less

  • Agentlien

    Very nice article. Liked it a lot.

    It’s just so true. Every point. :p

    The thing about moving text may be my favourite. Because seriously, I’ve often seen people perplexed as they gaze at my code. Like when a friend comes over and I’m just finishing something up. But if it actually moved around in such an elusive manner as I was trying to work… I’d probably develope epileptic seizures or something.

  • Agentlien

    Very nice article. Liked it a lot.

    It’s just so true. Every point. :p

    The thing about moving text may be my favourite. Because seriously, I’ve often seen people perplexed as they gaze at my code. Like when a friend comes over and I’m just finishing something up. But if it actually moved around in such an elusive manner as I was trying to work… I’d probably develope epileptic seizures or something.

  • I don’t know about you guys, but I look at a monitor when coding. Hackers in movies always have the code projected onto their face with a beamer. Has anyone ever tried that?

  • I don’t know about you guys, but I look at a monitor when coding. Hackers in movies always have the code projected onto their face with a beamer. Has anyone ever tried that?

  • RocMan

    Great article. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve seen a camera shot of the hacker’s face (techie, programmer, etc) in front of a monitor and the images on the screen are actually projected onto his/her face. C’mon, such blatant theatrical BS. Wouldn’t any movie-goer look at that and think “say, how come I have never noticed that on a computer user’s face in real life?”. It does seem that Hollywood has dropped this technique lately, probably because every one has flat screens now, and of course, when flat screens came along we were all finally relieved of the annoying images-projected-on-face problem.

  • RocMan

    Great article. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve seen a camera shot of the hacker’s face (techie, programmer, etc) in front of a monitor and the images on the screen are actually projected onto his/her face. C’mon, such blatant theatrical BS. Wouldn’t any movie-goer look at that and think “say, how come I have never noticed that on a computer user’s face in real life?”. It does seem that Hollywood has dropped this technique lately, probably because every one has flat screens now, and of course, when flat screens came along we were all finally relieved of the annoying images-projected-on-face problem.

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  • Programmers think a lot when coding. Occasionally, this means that they take a break from writing code, and stare at their screen when coding. They might occasionally scroll up, and down trying to look for other areas of their code. Typing is only done for some time. In fact, typing itself is the least done exercise during coding.

  • Programmers think a lot when coding. Occasionally, this means that they take a break from writing code, and stare at their screen when coding. They might occasionally scroll up, and down trying to look for other areas of their code. Typing is only done for some time. In fact, typing itself is the least done exercise during coding.

  • Eoghan

    17. Debugging happens
    Programmers in films and on TV will sit down and mash the keyboard (but not space or return, of course) for a few minutes and then boom! The program is ready to bypass the encryption and download the mainframe first time! Not one missed semicolon, perfect memory allocation, not hours and hours of reading, fixing, compiling, testing, fixing….

    18. More monitors = more kick-ass computer
    If you want to access those really secret government files, you’d better have at least 4×4 array of LCDs, each with symbols and numbers swirling around and/or rapidly scrolling gibberish. (see no.1)

    19. The feds get all the coolest stuff
    Every government office is kitted out with a new GUI for their Dells every time we see them. When are we going to see Jack Bauer get a blue-screen of death? that’s what I want to know.

  • Eoghan

    17. Debugging happens
    Programmers in films and on TV will sit down and mash the keyboard (but not space or return, of course) for a few minutes and then boom! The program is ready to bypass the encryption and download the mainframe first time! Not one missed semicolon, perfect memory allocation, not hours and hours of reading, fixing, compiling, testing, fixing….

    18. More monitors = more kick-ass computer
    If you want to access those really secret government files, you’d better have at least 4×4 array of LCDs, each with symbols and numbers swirling around and/or rapidly scrolling gibberish. (see no.1)

    19. The feds get all the coolest stuff
    Every government office is kitted out with a new GUI for their Dells every time we see them. When are we going to see Jack Bauer get a blue-screen of death? that’s what I want to know.

  • toby

    Yea….because Hollywood only misrepresents code but portrays everything else fairly and balanced.

    There is a good reason why entertainment is mostly unrealistic, because that would be fucking boring. Hollywood doesn’t need to be more realistic, people just need to stop assuming that what they see in ficitonal television must be the same in real life.

  • toby

    Yea….because Hollywood only misrepresents code but portrays everything else fairly and balanced.

    There is a good reason why entertainment is mostly unrealistic, because that would be fucking boring. Hollywood doesn’t need to be more realistic, people just need to stop assuming that what they see in ficitonal television must be the same in real life.

  • Iain

    Just saying, yes your article highlights some common inconsistencies between using computers in real life and using them in films but I think the reasoning that they are stereotyping geeks is a way off.

    Sure everyone reading this blog will go ‘that is so wrong’ but if you think about average joe who doesnt know about computers, when they see all the stereotypes highlighted in this article, they will go ‘omg wow computer hacker’ (or whatever) which is really the point of hollywood films, I think you will agree.

  • Iain

    Just saying, yes your article highlights some common inconsistencies between using computers in real life and using them in films but I think the reasoning that they are stereotyping geeks is a way off.

    Sure everyone reading this blog will go ‘that is so wrong’ but if you think about average joe who doesnt know about computers, when they see all the stereotypes highlighted in this article, they will go ‘omg wow computer hacker’ (or whatever) which is really the point of hollywood films, I think you will agree.

  • I’ve so got my green-and-black terminal swingin..d

  • I’ve so got my green-and-black terminal swingin..d

  • David

    “13. Programmers are not perfect typists.
    Hollywood programmers (scratch that, all computer users) never make typos. Most of them also have typing speeds of at least 45 WPM.”

    James… I should kill you for that. Granted, I make more than enough typos to be upset about.. in fact, I’ve already made one typing this post out.. nay, two. However, even with the typos, I still REGULARLY break 70 wpm. In my prime when I was actively role-playing, I’d been known to top 170 when spelling wasn’t an issue. typing is NOT that fucking difficult. 45 wpm is pathetic by any decent computer user’s standards.

  • David

    “13. Programmers are not perfect typists.
    Hollywood programmers (scratch that, all computer users) never make typos. Most of them also have typing speeds of at least 45 WPM.”

    James… I should kill you for that. Granted, I make more than enough typos to be upset about.. in fact, I’ve already made one typing this post out.. nay, two. However, even with the typos, I still REGULARLY break 70 wpm. In my prime when I was actively role-playing, I’d been known to top 170 when spelling wasn’t an issue. typing is NOT that fucking difficult. 45 wpm is pathetic by any decent computer user’s standards.

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  • mk

    i dont agree with first one.

    i find it quite normal, that i look at logs tailed, that moves incredible fast. although i cannot see any letter, in one moment i say ‘not good’ or ‘f..k! again!’

    that because i see shapes, not letters. ordinary logs have different shape than exception trace printed in log 🙂

  • mk

    i dont agree with first one.

    i find it quite normal, that i look at logs tailed, that moves incredible fast. although i cannot see any letter, in one moment i say ‘not good’ or ‘f..k! again!’

    that because i see shapes, not letters. ordinary logs have different shape than exception trace printed in log 🙂

  • I really agree with number “16”. I see that in Movies and TV shows. What you see in the picture is all you’re gonna get. You can’t zoom in and make it ultra-clear! It just doesn’t happen!

  • I really agree with number “16”. I see that in Movies and TV shows. What you see in the picture is all you’re gonna get. You can’t zoom in and make it ultra-clear! It just doesn’t happen!

  • Draugnar

    Hey buda,
    I bet you don’t code in binary at all. Assembly Language is NOT binary (I know, cause I can code Assembly for an IBM 360/370 or an x86 machine). And I once (long ago) had to redo the keyboard handler for Turbo Pascal IV, which I wrote in assembly, hand compiled to hex, and hand keyed as inline code into my program. Even THAT wasn’t binary, as I the final code inserted was hexadecimal (00-FF).

    So I think your claim of writing in binary is bull. I’m sure you use ZAP, MOV, and POP just like the rest of us Assembly coders.

  • Draugnar

    Hey buda,
    I bet you don’t code in binary at all. Assembly Language is NOT binary (I know, cause I can code Assembly for an IBM 360/370 or an x86 machine). And I once (long ago) had to redo the keyboard handler for Turbo Pascal IV, which I wrote in assembly, hand compiled to hex, and hand keyed as inline code into my program. Even THAT wasn’t binary, as I the final code inserted was hexadecimal (00-FF).

    So I think your claim of writing in binary is bull. I’m sure you use ZAP, MOV, and POP just like the rest of us Assembly coders.

  • Phred

    Thank you to buda for the correction on assembly lang.

    when working on hardware with limited memory, every bit counts, and you have to program in assembly.

    kinda like dos in windows. outdated? yes. essential? YES

  • Phred

    Thank you to buda for the correction on assembly lang.

    when working on hardware with limited memory, every bit counts, and you have to program in assembly.

    kinda like dos in windows. outdated? yes. essential? YES

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