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The girl with the ANSI tattoo (oracle-wtf.blogspot.co.uk)
367 points by ocirion on May 31, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 150 comments

Please nobody let Hollywood see this blog.

Somebody's going to say, "Man, we went to all that trouble to make it look realistic. But it doesn't work. Fuck it. Bring back the guy who did the interfaces for Jurassic Park. And the guy who writes Wesley Crusher's dialog."


Update: I love that my comment mocking excess nitpicking now has triggered triple-redundant nitpicking.

The Jurassic Park stuff wasn't done by a "guy", it was done by a team of folks, of which my mom was a part. (Specifically she helped pull together some of the spinning 3D xray skull stuff, wrote some c-shell scripts and was part of the sales team that sold the Sun systems to the movie). Also, the UI that you're probably talking about is this thing, and it's (sadly) real: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fsn

The most unrealistic thing about that wasn't the interface itself, it was the 10-year-old girl who says "This is Unix, I know this!"

Not to mention the whole dinosaur thing...

Yeah, but a movie called "Jurassic Park" with no dinosaurs would be pretty woeful. The same movie without 10-year-old experts in esoteric Unix UIs would have worked just fine.

It's OK to suspend incredulity for entertainment. I enjoy watching Star Trek even if I cringe when I imagine how implausible it is.

Google: real devices from star trek

Could be that something in the near future as simple as relativity was 100 years ago will solve the hardest ones, namely transporter and ftl tech.

Then again, it was funny as hell to see the flying car in Captain America.

Somehow I suspect that the transporter and warp drive won't fall that easily, but I admit you never know :)

The tech level in Captain America was all over the place, which is deserving of a rant in itself, but suffice to say it was the most annoying part of that movie to me.

Given the amount of focus the physics world is putting on string theory right now, and given that hidden dimensions offer us the possibility of a mathematical basis for warp drive, I wouldn't be shocked if a theoretical blueprint for an actual warp drive is created sometime this century. Even if that happens though, I doubt it will become viable technology this century simply because the energy requirements to bend space-time (at a macro level) via a hidden dimension are literally astronomical. I'd wager that coming up with an energy source for warp technology is actually a harder problem than warp technology itself.

As for transporter technology, I don't even think we have the beginning of the science behind that, so I think that's even more distant from today's science than warp drive engineering.

No way. That little neckbeard girl was awesome, and I refuse to believe she doesn't exist somewhere.

As mentioned before, the filesystem browser in Jurassic Park was a real program, called fsn. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fsn

  > interfaces for Jurassic Park
Replace Jurassic Park with "Operation Swordfish" or "Hackers," and you might be on to something. Especially since the Jurassic Park interface was a real program that actually existed.

Hackers is funny, but I watched it recently and was surprised at the realistic touches. In one scene, a character is showing off his "hacking" books - which included the dragon book, and a Unix book I believe is real.

The best part about Hackers is that they hired Emmanuel Goldstein to serve as a consultant to get the technical details right... and he decided it would be fun to completely troll the movie producers, giving us what we got.

Hackers is an absolutely fantastic and hillarious movie once you're watching it with that in mind. Especially since Cereal Killer is either named after the 2600 editor or else just uses his name in jest when he says "uh, this isn't Woodshop?"

I used to listen to the movie on repeat all day while restoring compromised accounts at Blizzard; it kept me going when my eyes wanted to go cross and my brain wanted to shut down from looking at WoW's "the Matrix" all day tracking stolen virtual goods.


This movie gets so much completely unnecessary hatred. Yeah, it's a joke, but there is plenty of little nods to "real" culture in there. To me it has always been pretty obvious that it was supposed to be silly, but that the people making it knew what they were doing.

I'm pretty sure most of the books from that scene were actually real books.

I'd have to watch it again to be 100% sure, but - going from memory - I believe every single book mentioned in that scene was real. Certainly the "pink shirt book" (IBM Guide to PCs) is real, as is the Dragon book (compiler theory) and the "Rainbow books".

The pink-shirt book is not the IBM Guide to PCs, but "The Peter Norton Programmer's Guide to the IBM PC". Incidentally, the blue-shirt book ("Peter Norton's DOS Guide") was the book that turned me into a computer nerd :)

The pink-shirt book is not the IBM Guide to PCs, but "The Peter Norton Programmer's Guide to the IBM PC".

Right, that's the one I was thinking about. It definitely stands out because of the pink shirt on the cover. So they got the exact title wrong (or I just mis-remembered what they called it in the movie), but still... that scene was fairly accurate for a hollywood movie involving computers. :-)

When I mentioned "Hackers," I was thinking more of the 3D UI they were navigating to search for files on the mainframe.

It's my life's ambition to one day use a file system as pretty and pointless as that one. Barring that, I may just create one for use in my "hacker" puzzle game for iOS that has no actual relation to real hacking (as is the case most "hacker" themed games).

A lot of the phone phreaking scenes in the movie were pretty real as well.

Yeah, the "red box" stuff was legit, it's just that A. few payphones seem to even exist anymore, and B. the ones that do are mostly COCOTs, not Telco operated phones that are (or were) susceptible to red-boxing.

Yeah, but you can op divert COCOTs or just hack them directly (one of my schools' COCOTs had a flaw where you could make the modem think you were still operating for free after dialing toll-free if you hadn't hung up the phone completely, rendering free unlimited calls)

Even better, you can just beige box off them if you can find the demarc point, which is usually on the backside of the building where the phone is. Since all the "magic" that makes it a "pay" phone is in the phone itself, the line it's hanging off of is just a plain old phone line, with full toll call ability and everything.

Back in the mid 90's, when I was a little bit into the phreaking scene, me and my buddies used to always beige box off of a COCOT to dial into the modem for the local phone switch, so we could play around. We found a payphone at a gas-station halfway in the middle of nowhere that closed fairly early, so we'd just pile my laptop in the car, drive out there, park about 40 feet from the phone, run a long ass cable to the demarc box and then sit in the car and hack/phreak. Good times... :-)

The viruses mentioned were real, too, even if their usage was silly.

"Type cookie, you idiot!"

"Cancer, brain... Brain Cancer?"

Swordfish was really funny to me because Hugh Jackman had the "kinetics" of a hard night of hacking exactly right, while he's typing at that ridiculous interface.

There's also something to be said for staying up all night and finishing off a bottle of wine.

I was just happy to see SQL used at all.

I really don't understand why people need to nitpick stuff like this. I mean, it's a movie -- the point is to tell a story not impart technical knowledge. Yeah, the query someone came up with on the fly isn't perfect, we get it, but in reality, this happens at the sql command line all the freaking time, it's a one-off, who cares? And yeah, the returned results are a bit incorrect for the query, but given that a bunch of freeze frame work had to be done to determine this, it seems like a pointless nitpick. Why not instead applaud the film-makers for actually using shockingly (for hollywood) real stuff.

Like I said, the point of movies is to tell a story. Sometimes this means glossing over bits, getting details wrong, or even presenting things out of order, because the important part is he plot. We all do this when we tell stories, it's human nature. We want to convey how awesome/important/sad/happy/whatever a moment was, and to do that we need to properly contextualize the emotion and key bits, not every detail. When the makers of a fictional story try to get largely unimportant details right, they are showing dedication to craft, not asking for technical advice.

Maybe it's because I'm ramping my team up for demo season, where I have to remind them and the researchers they work with that the grant reviewers haven't spend the last 6 months thinking real hard about the problem, and aren't as expert in the sub-field/topics as we are (they are pretty smart competent people, but they gave us money to do the work because presumably we know more about it than they do...). To do a demo and to make a movie are very similar. You need to convey the importance of the work, without making bogus claims (in demos about research, in movies its about plot breaking), and convey the context in which it can be understood. Sometimes this means leaving out or glossing over really cool technical stuff, because it doesn't actually matter to the bigger picture. Sometimes it means saying "this part is simulated with these assumptions because we don't know yet, or it still needs more reseach, but if true, it shows our point nicely". Sometimes it means showing things happen at 10x or .1x real time, because that is how you tell the story. It isn't lying or being stupid, it is getting points across.

Well anyway, that turned into a rant. TL;DR - Detail are not the point of movies, they are just a vehicle to help the point, we should applaud careful attention to them, not nitpick.

I think you missed the point of the article. They were mockingly critiquing it, as the people behind the movie went above-and-beyond typical Hollywood technical gobbley-gook. The point is that it was accurate enough that they could critique it.

I agree, except:

    hackers ⊈ developers
Hackers are not optimizing for performance or readability.

I've watched a few penetration testers at work - they have to have a very broad knowledge base and work at speed. They're not sitting around wondering if their query is going to work in 1s or 0.1s - it just doesn't matter.

Awesome to see 'real' sql in action though.

And I agree, as long as we also agree that:

  hackers ∩ developers ≠ ∅
(The set of all hackers are not a strict subset of the set of all developers, but it's also true that some hackers - yes, in the breaking-in-to-something sense - are developers.)

tis a sad day when I understand these symbols and chuckle :(

> Hackers are not optimizing for performance or readability.

Speak for yourself ;-)

I'm not a hacker, so I can't.

FYI I'm referring to 'trying to break into a system, possibility illegally, with time pressure, hackers', rather than HackerNews hackers. Which I thought was reasonably obvious from the context.

If you're actually trying to crack a system, you're generally trying a lot of different things very rapidly. Tweaking performance and nicely formatting code you're going to immediately discard is... a misappropriation of resources.

Sorry if I look harsh, but this is not the meaning of "hacker" I like to see promoted.

On the movie, also, the girl was not trying to crack into a computer - she seemingly had full MySQL console access.

I think that ship has sailed, and we just have to use context to disambiguate.

I prefer to think of 'hack' and its variants as neutral terms that can, in context be either good ('Look what I hacked together!') or bad ('They hacked into the servers').

(Actually, the way usually explain it to non-techies: duct tape. Everyone understands what duct tape is meant for: it won't necessarily win any awards for style[1], but it's powerful, and it sure as heck gets the job done in a pinch, and quickly too! I find that analogy generally holds well enough, whether we're talking about black-hat hacking or 'real' hacking.)

[1] Most of the time, that is: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=duct%20tape%20cloth...

I don't see this as nitpicking really. I definitely don't see it as negative. Sure there is a bit of nitpicking but the author seems to have laid down some genuine comments about the movie on top of it.

To be fairly honest, if I noticed something like this I'd crack a big grin and I'd wanna share it, like I just cracked a big grin whilst reading the post.

I think, overall, this a compliment to the detail in the movie. They're using real technology and (kinda) believable commands/code. It's only after deconstructing the scene it's been found they haven't got it 100% right. Most of the time, when someone is 'hacking' at a computer it's a load of nonsense and usually makes me cringe seeing it. I remember one totally shocking clip where a guy was 'hacking' and you could plainly see it was Windows Media Player. Let's not even mention Hackers.

Things like this make me smile and I find them really, really interesting when I either notice them or they are pointed out to me. I could probably waste a whole day reading an archive of these.

> I remember one totally shocking clip where a guy was 'hacking' and you could plainly see it was Windows Media Player.

This is not made up, folks. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DURk7VQhW-k

I really don't understand why people need to nitpick humorous little blog posts like this. I mean, it's a joke -- the point is to have some fun picking apart the technical details of a movie that clearly went above and beyond in that aspect compared to other movies. That goes without saying. It's just faux pedantry; it's all in good fun.

For fun... see my decoding of the Morse Code at the start of Downton Abbey: http://blog.jgc.org/2011/11/downton-abbey-series-1-episode-1...

Because we're nerds and it's fun.

Even when this blog post gets into the technical inaccuracies it's just trivia, not nitpicking.

Movies want to keep you in the suspension of disbelief (that the storyline is real) and as a programmer it's been hard to do that with most "hacking" scenes in movies.

The only other blockbuster movie I can think of with a reasonably believable hacking scene was when Trinity used an openssl exploit in one of the Matrix sequels.

Trinity used nmap to find an actual openssl exploit. Even then, people were nitpicking over whether or not the exploit was known during the time period that the world inside the Matrix is purported to be, though IIRC that was in good fun.

the hacking in the beginning of _Tron: Legacy_ looked pretty realistic to me (apart from the server's apparently being simultaneously sparc and x86).

best of all was the end of _Veronica Mars_ (yes, not a movie) which is the only even vaguely realistic decryption plot i've ever seen.

Thing is, if you're "good" at something, and a movie gets it wrong, it can ruin the movie for you.

My pet hate is people playing the piano, but playing the wrong notes (While the soundtrack is playing something different).

It's even worse than this. When everytime you're "good" at something, you notice movies get it wrong, after some point you start to wonder, maybe they also get it wrong for all the things you're not good at, you just don't notice it. So basically, it could be that movies get everything wrong.

The most annoying thing for me is hearing reporters talk about science or computers. By the time they get done "summarizing" a research result it bears only the faintest resemblance to reality, and often has been construed to mean the very opposite of the original published paper.

Then I realize that these same people report the business and political news, and realized that I probably don't have a clue what's actually going on in the world.

This is absolutely true. I had the opportunity to complain about this once to a big name Hollywood producer, and he told me that the rule of thumb that most movie makers use is, "If we don't know the difference, our audience won't either."

Occasionally they hire experts to be sure they get it right, but that is more the exception than the rule, and mostly happens when a feeling of realism is considered important for the part.

It was so absolutely nice that NUMB3RS hired actual applied math geeks to write the equations that their statistician uses to solve crimes.

If only they had hired a computer geek to write the crap about the Turing test. ;_;

Yeah, if I remember correctly "NUMB3RS" likens IRC to pirates trading illegal drugs in international waters.

Michael Crichton called this "the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect":


Exactly. My pet peeve is military depictions in movies. I can't recall a movie that's gotten even the basics right. I may be nitpicking, but it does detract from the viewing experience.

And I can't immerse in the Game of Thrones because Nigth's Watch members stroll around in the snow without hats. Any person who was in the cold temperature for the prolonged time would recognize it as complete nonsense. Every time I see it, I get this feeling "this looks wrong", and then, "oh, they are without hats again!"

Black Hawk Down, Jarhead come to mind as modern examples of basically correct (though the behavior of some of the Delta force in BHD is overly exaggerated).

> Black Hawk Down

Yeah, that was a good movie, but Ridley Scott is so much better than most Hollywood directors that it's not a fair comparison. (Never saw Jarhead)

A friend of mine once complained he couldn't watch "Pensacola" (or "JAG", I'm not sure) because they couldn't even salute right.

As someone with no knowledge of military, I have no idea of the rookie mistakes made by hollywood. Care to give some examples?

Totally sympathise, I have the same with archery in movies. I can normally ignore the typical Hollywood stuff in LOTR or whatever, but really can't take it when they pretend to be modern + realistic (current worst case: Blade Trinity).

Did you watch hunger games, and how did that archery look? Apparently the actress spent 6 months+ practicing but I'd be interested to hear an informed point of view.

Actually, she just spend a few weeks practising with an Olympic competitor, i.e., nowhere near 6 months. I'm not an expert on these things, but it seemed to vary from scene to scene. Someone commented on the trailer and explained how it's very accurate, but there were a few shots in the movie where what the expert explained seemed missing (like "kissing" the string).

I practiced archery for about 5 years in my mis-spent youth, and it sure didn't seem right. If she spent 6 months on that, she didn't have good instructors, or she paid no attention at all.

(It wasn't horrible, but it was not worth 6 months of learning)

Haven't seen it yet, sorry. I've read the book but wasn't excited enough to make a beeline for the movie. Probably will see it sometime though.

From what I've seen of various shorts about the movie, the archery looks pretty good. I don't think she spent 6 months practising but she obviously spent some time on it with a good coach (a US Olympian, so she knows her stuff). The only thing they get wrong is that longbows aren't as accurate as they're portrayed, but that happens in every movie with an archer and it's just artistic license really.

Jeremy Renner, who plays Clint Barton ("Hawkeye") in the Avengers, claims he undertook extensive archery training in preparation for his role. Then, on set, they had him do things that "looked cool" rather than "were right" so it didn't really translate as he had expected.

He also said he sustained an archery related injury while filming which A) shouldn't happen if he'd had the proper training and B) would also affect his ability to use proper form while shooting.

I've been working to make a conscious effort over the past decade to willingly suspend my disbelief at the movies and just enjoy the entertainment for what it is trying to be, rather than what it is failing at. I've enjoyed movies much more the times I've been successful at it. Other times, like the "I guess we'll just make the new OS free since a copy of it leaked on the internet" scene in the new Tron, I couldn't get over, and I let it completely ruin the movie for me. (I found later that if I just start about 20 minutes into the movie and enjoy it as an awesome Daft Punk music video then I really love Tron: Legacy).

The stupidest little nitpick that I have, which shows up in nearly every movie and television show, is that someone makes an outgoing call, gets hung up on, and then the foley team adds in a new dial tone. I don't know why I continue to let it bug me, but I do. Joss Whedon complained in one of his commentaries (Joss Whedon does the best commentary tracks, by the way, check them out sometimes if you care about this stuff at all) that he always has to go back and cut out about 70% of what the foley artists try to add to every scene. Sounds exhausting, for everyone.

That scene didn't really bother me in Tron; I cut them a bit of slack for the use of a convincing Unix shell (also Emacs: http://jtnimoy.net/workviewer.php?q=178), but Tron's never been about realistic computing. And yeah, I was sold on the music + cooler lightcycles.

I have listened to some of Joss's commentary (Serenity and Firefly, unsurprisingly), although I hadn't heard that particular part. It does sound exhausting, but I guess refusing to budge on that sort of thing is what makes him a great writer/director.

Never seen the movie but my take away from the article was that I was really impressed they went as far as they did. The author of the article is just having fun, not criticizing it really.

> Shocked moviegoers will have been left wondering > why a genius-level hacker would outer-join to the > Victims and Keywords tables only to use literal-text > filter predicates that defeat the outer joins, > whether MySQL has a LIKE operator, and why none > of the victims' initials are 'R L'.

For the record since you never see the entire query so it is likely that the SQL is not as wrong as the author suggests. There is an extensive use of ORs in the query so the conditions that are said to defeat the outer joins are not mandatory and the 'R' and 'L' checks are clearly not required to pass. I think it is pretty good representation of how you might build up query from scratch, piling up conditions in OR clauses to finally get what you want. Yes, provided the table that starts with V is aliased as v the v.SEX condition does defeat the outer join, but that might be exactly the sort of thing you would stick in after you had already established a working FROM clause and not bother changing the outer to an inner. Solving the case was after all by definition a one-off.

I enjoyed this article because it points out an occasion where a movie really did try to get it right. Someone who knows something about databases had to have made those screens up.

In the original Swedish version she did it with MongoDB!

the original swedish version would have been Erlang/OTP running mnesia.

MySql also has swedish roots!

I thought mnesia...

Well thank the FSM it's not DB2

I'm happy that, finally, people are not shoving 'movie-os' in computer scenes anymore.

The first time I saw real stuff in movies was in Antitrust, then in Tron: Legacy and finally here.

I have noticed across the years since 2000:

- a bunch of nmap appearances (notably Die Hard 4 and the Bourne Ultimatum, also one of the Matrix movies)

- some default OpenBox with XTerms in a few series

- KDE quite a number of times too

- SSH, bash and Unix FS exploration (cd, ls -l and its output, find, grep) at times

In fact it's sad that so much of the computer scenes are bad, but I've seen enough actually good attempts at being realistic that I can't remember where I saw them. What's sure is that the trend is upwards.

Y'know the 3D filesystem in Jurassic Park was a real program too, and it was based on a UNIX system.

(I think it's a file explorer for an old SGI box; which makes sense as SGI was commonly used in the production of movies.)

> I think it's a file explorer for an SGI box

Aye it's FSN/Fusion: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fsn

There's even a screening of fsn in action on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaRHU1XxMJQ

The Social Network was good about it. Someone online actually reedited the scene where he was grabbing images from frat sites and edited in scenes from other films, like Hacker's "virtual skyscrapers", and suddenly it was like a real Hollywood film again!

We recognize when movies dumb computer stuff down, but the truth is they do it always!

Imagine sitting beside a big horse nerd and every time a horse is on the screen and makes this typical horse noise they would comment "the horse didn't make the sound" or white walkers are killing the night watch behind the wall and "this horse is not really frightened but relaxed and listens curiously" or every time there is a mighty black Frisian horse in a movie, which believe me hey are a lot!, they would comment how wrong and stupid it is that Zorro/Prince of Persia/the Spartans are riding Frisians.

I have a friend who is a competitive target shooter, and he's always complaining that the shell casings are the wrong size during shootouts.

Of course now he's got me doing it too...

Movies always abuse the gun-cocking sound, and/or have characters cock (or pump, for shotguns) the guns at inappropriate times because it looks cool.

Or the "click, click" empty revolver sound on a semi-automatic pistol. This pretty much only happens if you're evil though.

The slide just never seems to lock back like it should unless the hero has two guns that need to be thrown on the ground before he/she walks forward defiantly and grabs two MORE guns.

If you think that's bad count how many gear changes happen in a car chase/street race in most big films that have manual cars.

Obligatory 9gag http://9gag.com/gag/4026146

You must have only read the comic, but not the comments about down-shifting for turns. :P

Did read the comments, but they still always find an extra gear to shift up into ;)

You don't have to imagine a horse expert getting upset about unrealistic portrayals of horses. Check out this take on the Spielberg film _War Horse_ for a lack of "agricultural realism:" "Ploughing that stony virgin (never ploughed) field with a team of sturdy cobs would have been improbable; with a puny thoroughbred it was ludicrous."


Movies do things for visual impact.

And audio impact.

They're not reporting fact. They're weaving a fantasy.

Whatever your field is, if you want to got stark raving mad, watch a movie made about it.

At the very least, the people writing, acting, and directing your world have little or no idea of what it's really like. And even if they do, they're taking deliberate liberties to embellish or interpret the realm to make it more telegenic.

An interesting exception: movies looking in on themselves -- at movies, TV, and entertainment. There's frequently embellishment, still (people and events are more glamorous / beautiful / hip than they are in reality), but there's often a lot of real insight.

There's real insight whenever movies talk about people.

Best example in a field I'm familiar with - "Strictly Ballroom". Sure, everybody was over the top, but anybody who was ever involved in competitive ballroom dancing will recognize all the archetypes and be able to relate to the various things said about dancers.

For some reason, it's easier to swallow that characters are exaggerated, instead of facts. (This being HN, I fully expect a reply within the next 15 minutes explaining the exact psychological effect, complete with links to relevant papers ;)

I don't think they dumb down on purpose, I think more often they just don't bother to talk to anyone knowledgeable.

I paused the movie on all computer shots, and they're all legit. He's using emacs to hack Perl code in the beginning, all of the computers have Linux desktops, and most importantly, when they say things like "I need a dedicated Linux box running Apache with a MySQL back end", it sounds like something the character says all the time. Typically in movies, you can tell actors aren't familiar with the terms they're using because they emphasize them, as if they're trying them out.

The audio version of Neal Stephenson's "REAMDE" has our hero saving data in a "ee em ay see ess file."

But really, nobody ever says things like "I need a dedicated Linux box running Apache with a MySQL back end" outside of an Aaron Sorkin script.

No, they say things like "I need a SinoLogic 16, Sogo-7 Datagloves, a GPL stealth module, one Burdine Intelligent Translator, and Thompson eyephones."

When all else fails, make shit up.

Sorkin has a tendency write over-specific dialog, with lots of jargon. For this he is lauded for being accurate, but it sounds stilted. Throw in three or four overwrought soliloquies, and the man wins an Academy Award. I just don't understand his appeal.

audiobook narrators are really hit-or-miss on technical material, at least the kind that's sparsely distributed through some types of novels--i've heard them really butcher computer and military jargon quite frequently. (can't remember anything specific off the top of my head right now, but i think there was something fairly egregious in one of the Kris Longknife books.)

Forget technical terms; I once heard a particularly bad audiobook narrator refer to 'hallow-tipped bullets'. (He also mispronounced plenty of technical terms.)

Matrix 2 rather famously involved an actual ssh escalation using nmap. Takedown (aka Track Down) was another fairly accurate example of hacking (though highly inaccurate historically). One of the more famous examples of "Movie OSes", Jurassic Park (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFUlAQZB9Ng), actually was a real unix system running FSN

The overall premise was a little over the top, but WarGames (the older one) got some of the detail correct. In 1983, no less, so it's replete with dial-up sounds and everything!

WarGames was a marvelous movie! With the exception of WOPR, all of the computer usage was fairly accurate, with a few fudges such as that speech module being audible everywhere, when it clearly says that he bought it for his home computer to read terminal output. Everywhere else a computer is shown being used, it's fairly mundane, e.g., a librarian doing searches for books on Falken. There's no "computers are magic" crap-ola that goes on in later hacker-themed films.

As for WOPR, he is based on a real cold-war program called SIOP (Single Integrated Operational Plan), under which the President could tentatively select nuke targets and run computer simulations of what might happen. WOPR, unlike a lot of movie AIs, is not even particularly malicious; he is just running what he thinks is a simulation, blissfully unaware of the stakes, as any computer program without sufficient "common sense" would be.

Probably the biggest exaggeration in that movie was the shots of the NORAD command center, which NORAD officials at the time stated was what they wished they had rather than what they actually had. The filmmakers were not permitted access to the insides of NORAD so again, they had to make shit up.

bin/iostat in Tron Legacy returns:

SolarOS 4.0.1


[NB I have the relevant screenshot as a desktop background]

Did I just now get that SolarOS was just a pun on Solaris?

I think the capitalisation and the "4.0.1" was a hint that it's really a pun on SunOS.


I feel like a complete putz for not getting the Sun-Solaris relation until RIGHT NOW.

next up: SUN stands for "Stanford University Networks" (which also explains why their original ticker symbol was SUNW)

solaris is still internally called sunos (and the versioning is the same as the stupid java one, solaris 11 is really sunos 5.11)

you never read the book, which has named the apple notebooks and some shareware software (product placements which are almost gone by now). The main character(s) explicitly saved up for the given machine (although the movie isn't accurate down to the model)

The book explicitly mentions PGP which I thought was particularly cool.

the books all had this odd habit of being very specific about brands--Lisbeth's favorite microwave pizza, her computers, i think even the names of the ikea furniture. idk if that's normal in swedish writing or if it was just larsson....

You never watched jurassic park?

I noticed this in Jurassic Park - it had a sort of movie OS, sort of actual code thing in it:


It was totally bad to perform image leeching. The site http://www.williamrobertson.net/

Where the image are hosted, is now off-line, because of this.

You can use imgur, minus, or even blogspot itself instead.

That site appears to be the author's own site...

Maybe I'm missing something, but why should it have been oracle SQL?

It's an Oracle-focused database blog so it was probably a reference to what his articles are usually about. (Just a guess.)

Heh, tried to share this on Facebook and got a "blogspot.co.uk is spam" warning.

Wow! Only on HN could one expect people picking apart SQL from movie screenshots and then discussing the minutiae of that code! Not that I have any problem with it. However, it surprises me no end how inward-looking, tech-navel-gazing, nerd-o-maniac this can appear to an outsider looking this way :-)

Oh surely that's what they'd expect.

I loved how matter-of-factly he says

Naturally I couldn't help stitching a few screenshots together in Photoshop

I tried to share this on my Facebook timeline (I have a lot of movie geek friends and computer geek friends), but I was not allowed to since it comes from an "overly spammy site".

First time I've seen that...

Let me just say that after seeing the original Swedish movie and then reading the book, I was crushed to learn there was no hacker tool called "asphyxia" in the book.

There is in the English translation of The Girl Who Played With Fire.

Oh! I haven't gotten that far yet. Thanks for the tip.

this guy worked on the TRON command line/vfx stuff http://jtnimoy.net/?q=178

Really amazing!

>Shocked moviegoers will have been left wondering why a genius-level hacker would outer-join to the Victims and Keywords tables

Mysql defaults to inner join. See http://stackoverflow.com/questions/4418776/what-is-the-defau...

On a related note, I asked about fake UIs/OSs on quora a while back: http://www.quora.com/Why-do-movies-and-TV-shows-often-show-f...

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo also uses OpenOffice which I thought was cool: https://twitter.com/jyap/status/181908341675663362/photo/1

they constructed a relevant sql query. that is more than enough for that scene. compare with this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkDD03yeLnU

You're all wrong. It's pretty clear they had to obfuscate what she really wrote so no one could use it to "hack into the mainframe," on advice from their lawyers to avoid liability.

I think they've done a pretty good job, compared tp the general level of hacketry and math prtrayals on film. This is up there with Trinity's login using a ssh vulnarabilty.

"The Social Network" did hacking scenes quite well too. I'd recommend seeing that movie for anyone who's interested in doing a start up.

Weirder still how the prompt clearly reads "mysql>" for Oracle.

...did you read the article? They clearly state that it's MySQL. The blog itself is called Oracle WTF.

My mistake.

Great article.

My pet peeves in shows/movies, are normally around the fact that it takes more than a few seconds to do anything useful on a computer. And yet on film even idiots seem to command their gadgetry with aplomb.

They should show failed password attempts. Computer lock ups. Anti-virus software blocking any meaningful use of the computer. Frustration of users as they are prevented from booting due to system updates etc.

I'm also not a fan of fake search engines - and video streams that appear in flawless hi-def!

I wish computers were omitted entirely sometimes - they are pointless props, and just age the movie. Couldn't they just say - 'I searched for blah'?

It's not like I'm loosing sleep over it though. I would rather TV wasn't such an insult to the imagination (I can - and enjoy - filling in the gaps myself.)

One movie I saw get this right is Office Space, where Peter's computer has to do 69 different things before finally quitting.

True, it exits from a Mac-like GUI to a DOS prompt, but I loved the depiction of office software as finicky, time-consuming, and frustrating.

I wish computers were omitted entirely sometimes - they are pointless props, and just age the movie. Couldn't they just say - 'I searched for blah'?

I hated this movie, but one thing I'm glad of is they actually showed computer use more sparingly than in the book. The book was rife with "Hollywood hacking", and was otherwise a pain in the ass to read.

>Anti-virus software blocking any meaningful use of the computer

Don't wish for that! In the Hulk 2008 movie, you can see Norton Antivirus scanning the computer right before he uses it.

For people using mysql, that kind of query really isn't such bad SQL at all.

Shocked moviegoers will have been left wondering why a genius-level hacker would outer-join to the Victims and Keywords tables only to use literal-text filter predicates that defeat the outer joins

Any excuse for this? :)

The MySQL optimizer will actually notice and remove the outer join aspect automatically. So I have often done this out of pure laziness if I start with an outer join, but really end up needing an inner join.

Realistically that they started the query with keywords optional, then moved to them being required (which, it should be noted, a good query planner would effective make an inner join). On the scale of evils of SQL, it lies somewhere around "friendly benign".

The Swedish police use or at least used MySQL as database solution.

Is there a reason why none of the images work?

They hotlinked to a different domain, and the traffic brought the other site over its allotted bandwidth. Very un-neighborly thing to do. You should always host your own images or use a dedicated image host.

Edit: never mind the moralizing, it was his own domain that he linked to :)

“Bandwidth Limit Exceeded”

Umm, sorry about that, wasn't expecting to be ycombinatored :) Fixed now.

i have been always curious about hacking with modern computers,movies just did a little to let more people know that

The author could have done something useful instead of this.

Likewise. At least I cracked a huge grin reading it, especially at this golden paragraph: "Immediately moviegoers will notice that this can't be Oracle SQL - obviously the AS keyword is not valid for table aliases. In fact as we pull back for a thrilling query results listing we see the mysql prompt and giveaway use [dbname] connect syntax and over-elaborate box drawing."

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