Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

The way computers are portrayed in movies has always bugged me, here's a list from Endless Jokes.

1.. Word processors never display a cursor.
2.. You never have to use the spacebar when typing long sentences.
3.. All monitors display 2 inch high letters.
4.. High-tech computers, such as those used by NASA, the CIA, or some such
governmental institution, have easy-to-understand graphical interfaces.
5.. Those that don't, will have incredibly powerful text-based command
shells that can correctly understand and execute commands typed in plain
English.
6.. Corollary: You can gain access to any information you want by simply
typing "ACCESS ALL OF THE SECRET FILES" on any keyboard.
7.. Likewise, you can infect a computer with a destructive virus by simply
typing "UPLOAD VIRUS." Viruses cause temperatures in computers, just like
they do in humans. After a while, smoke billows out of disk drives and
monitors.
8.. All computers are connected. You can access the information on the
villain's desktop computer, even if it's turned off.
9.. Powerful computers beep whenever you press a key or whenever the
screen changes. Some computers also slow down the output on the screen so
that it doesn't go faster than you can read. The *really* advanced ones also
emulate the sound of a dot-matrix printer as the characters come across the
screen.
10.. All computer panels have thousands of volts and flash pots just
underneath the surface. Malfunctions are indicated by a bright flash, a puff
of smoke, a shower of sparks, and an explosion that forces you backward.
(See #7, above)
11.. People typing away on a computer will turn it off without saving the
data.
12.. A hacker can get into the most sensitive computer in the world before
intermission and guess the secret password in two tries.
13.. Any PERMISSION DENIED has an OVERRIDE function.
14.. Complex calculations and loading of huge amounts of data will be
accomplished in under three seconds. In the movies, modems transmit data at
two gigabytes per second.
15.. When the power plant/missile site/whatever overheats, all the control
panels will explode, as will the entire building.
16.. If you display a file on the screen and someone deletes the file, it
also disappears from the screen. There are no ways to copy a backup file and
there are no undelete utilities.
17.. If a disk has got encrypted files, you are automatically asked for a
password when you try to access it.
18.. No matter what kind of computer disk it is, it'll be readable by any
system you put it into. All application software is usable by all computer
platforms.
19.. The more high-tech the equipment, the more buttons it has. However,
everyone must have been highly trained, because the buttons aren't labelled.
20.. Most computers, no matter how small, have reality-defying
three-dimensional, real-time, photo-realistic animated graphics capability.
21.. Laptops, for some strange reason, always seem to have amazing
real-time video phone capabilities and the performance of a CRAY-MP.
22.. Whenever a character looks at a VDU, the image is so bright that it
projects itself onto his/her face.
23.. Computers never crash during key, high-intensity activities. Humans
operating computers never make mistakes under stress. Modems never hang up.
24.. Programs are fiendishly perfect and never have bugs that slow down
users.
X (For X-Files). The most popular computer in the world is Macintosh.

...and not a single word about "Bad Command or File Name", "NO CARRIER" or
"(A)bort, (R)etry, (F)ail?"

Here's a contribution of my own. From Independence Day, and similar movies. Using your normal Macintosh laptop you can go up to the alien mothership, and connect to its computer and give it a virus easier than you can connect to America Online.