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8 horrifying Hollywood computing cliches

Andrew C. Oliver | March 17, 2016
We've all rolled our eyes at ridiculous misinterpretations of computer technology on TV or in the movies. These eight seem to pop up again and again

5. It catches fire (literally)

I once accidentally watched an episode of "NCIS" where a virus made a desktop computer catch fire, so a stereotypical goth geek put the computer in a freezer in a morgue to cool it off. Likewise, a key point of "Digital Fortress" was that software made the NSA supercomputer catch fire. Yes, I know, "Digital Fortress" is a book by Dan Brown (an awful writer who writes books that all have the same plot as an episode of "Scooby-Doo") and yes, bugs happen -- but no processor made in the last 20 years lacks a temperature failsafe, and even if it did, it would stop operating long before it burned up. I'm sure "Digital Fortress" will be made into a terrible movie some day because it contains a number of other ridiculously impossible events.

6. Encryption 

Another "Star Trek: Voyager" thing: Someone says, "Computer, encrypt the controls," which for some reason means the next person can't say, "Computer, decrypt the controls since you have the key anyhow." In other cases, encryption seems awfully weak. It can be so easily broken that it fits within the plot line of a single episode in most TV shows. Even broken encryption algorithms usually take longer than that. What are they using? Enigma?

7. The Mainframe

Most TV shows talk about a "server" or "the really important computer" as "The Mainframe," from "Star Trek" to "Person of Interest." I'm beginning to think that IBM pays for this. Seriously, most powerful computing systems aren't actually mainframes. The latter sequels in the "Terminator" series weren't very good, but I liked that Skynet became a distributed system deployed on a botnet -- not on a mainframe.

8. Everything is compatible

I hate most modern action movies. The sensory overload of continuous explosions, with no real reason why, is too much for me. I probably wouldn't see the new "Independence Day" for that reason alone. But much worse than things that go boom, the original had a virus uploaded from a Mac to an alien computer. That was enough for me. I walked out of that one.

Now you tell me: What are your "favorite" reasons to yell at the screen while your family and friends shake their heads at the crazy person and say, "It's only a movie?" What have I missed over the years?

Source: Infoworld 


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