Computers and TV (Why can't they get anything right?)

So I am watching the show “John Doe” tonight and there is a problem with a computer system.

On to the madness.

A computer guru dies and they search his house. The bartender guy on the show is there for some reason. The bartender guy works on the computer for like 5 minutes. A chip gets pulled and then the bartender guy hacks into the system within 5 minutes. (Note, I wasn’t paying much attention to the show so I am not sure how the chip fit into the plot)

I have hacked systems (legally, it was for a job. The idea was to test the system before it went online). It doesn’t take just five minutes. It takes a whole lot of time and knowledge.

Yet a bartender can hack into a system that is supposed to belong to a computer guru in 5 minutes.

ACK!!! Someone in Hollywood needs to take a basic computer class.

Hacking isn’t that easy or that fast.


Look out, slee! Any minute now, Derleth is going to come in and lecture you on the difference between “hackers” and “crackers”. :slight_smile:

You weren’t paying that much attention to the show if that was the biggest WTF that occured to you.

Near the end it is revealed that the dead computer guru’s entire brain is encoded into a few bar codes.
The human brain could be measured in terabytes i believe.

Oh and John Doe “programs” a GPS sattelite from a Direct TV receiver,and uses it to track a dog with one of those id chips implanted…is the writers knowledge of science that bad?

There are so many things wrong with this whole episode it really turned me off the whole show,this was the first episode i had seen since the pilot,which i thought was interesting.

OK, I haven’t seen this particular offense for a few years, so maybe TV people have gotten a clue, but…have you ever seen a show, where they show someone printing a document on what looks to be a modern inkjet printer but sounds just like an old screetchy dot-matrix printer (the Apple Imagewriter comes to mind)?

Oh, and of course, there’s Jurassic Park, where the girl looks at the graphical interface and exclaims, “It’s a Unix system! I know this!” :rolleyes:

So saith the IMDb. And I’ve heard this confirmed elsewhere as well.

I gave up on John Doe for exactly that reason: despite the fact that the character effortlessly rattles off obscure trivia, some very blatant technical errors kept marring the stories, suggesting the writers were kept busy flipping through World Book for factoids when they should have been talking to industry professionals for the straight dope.

Actually, mystery shows along those lines (main character has psychic or pseudo-psychic abilities) have always annoyed me, including the recent Monk and even Columbo. There’s just too much Deus Ex in the premise and the supporting characters are always idiots who doubt the main character’s hunches, even though he’s been right 500 times in a row.

An exception, though, was Seeing Things, which some Canadian dopers might remember from the earliy eighties. The main character was a reporter who would suffer occassional trancelike visions of past events, but they never gave enough information to solve the mystery until the end. That, combined with a quirky but not excessively neurotic character and an effective supporting cast made it far more watchable than John Doe ever will be.

And how many movies and TV shows have all the computers making those weird “computer” noises all the time?

I never saw it and can’t recall the name of it right now, but evidently there was a movie with Jodie Foster in which her and her daughter were trapped or locked in a room. Her daughter was type 1 diabetic and her blood sugar was crashing. The remedy, according to the storyline, was to give her a shot of insulin, which of corse would have killed her within the hour in real life. Anyway, I subscribe to a magazine called Diabetes Interview (being that I am a type 1 diabetic) and one of the writers was so disturbed about this scene - becuase in real life if someone’s blood sugar was crashing and an uninformed moviegoer was relying on this movie to try to assist the person they could well kill them - that they interviewed some technical consultants. To a person they all admitted that their technical research was often sloppy or nonexistent because the writers/directors didn’t listen to them anyway. The “facts” might get in the way of the story. One of the consultants even said that they were indeed diabetic themselves and consulted on the subject on one project and told the writers what they wanted to hear knowing full well it was wrong.

Very frequently when someone in a TV show or film is shown playing any kind of computer game the sound is that of the Atari 2600’s crappy Pac-Man port.


I was flipping channels a while back and saw a typical annoyance:

A woman (apparently lonely for lack of love) starts playing “You Don’t Know Jack.” When it makes fun of her for having only one player, she turns off the monitor and walks away. The computer is very clearly not an IMac, so she has left the game running and gone off to do whatever else she did. Her electricity bill must be through the roof.

In this same episode the IP address mentioned was 127.X.X.X

That is not a valid IP address any attempts to “reach” it will “loop” back to your own computer. When I first saw this I thought of it as a technical error but I am guessing the writers did this to avoid the IP address in question getting slammed. Much the same way TV uses 555 - XXXX telephone numbers… Is this the start of a trend??

On an unrelated note there was a Voyager (Star Trek) episode where they go back to our time frame. Point a tricorder at a monitor and gather all its data. This reeks to me of the common misunderstanding that the monitor is the computer… My computer is the tower under the desk… hehehe

I didn’t see the show, but the scenario could be quite simple:

Computer is protected with a BIOS password. Bartender pulls out battery. BIOS settings lost. Bartender can get right in.

I’m not sure of the time frame (when I’ve had to do this, I’ve used software), but that could be just dramatic license.

Computers that belong to covert ops soldiers that go BEEP

Complaints like this are a bit stupid. I mean sure, anyone with even minimal knowledge of how computers work is going to roll their eyes at the way comps and computer hacking/cracking are portrayed in most movies and tv shows, but look at it from the perspective of the people making the shows.

They’ve gotta take something that sounds cool and exciting and exotic but is in reality slow, dull and monotonous and make it visually exciting in the context of a television show or film, in a way that even (maybe especially) even people who are computer illiterate can understand. If you’ve got a better way of doing this than the ways Hollywood has in the past, I’m sure they’d be happy to listen to you.

We have four, yes 4, PC systems that run continually. Our last electricity bill was in the neighborhood of 50 bucks. Not a very high roof there.

I know this has been verified already, but I recall the GUI having little boxes with Unix like directory names for labels.

How is this strange? I know lots of people who just turn the monitor when they go off to do something else; I myself only turnoff my computer for hardware upgrades, new patches/drivers installations, or (the thankfully rare in WindowsXP) system freeze ups. When I go to sleep I just turn of the monitor; besides, I might be downloading something.

It wasn’t a BIOS password. If that was it I would have given them praise for getting something right.

At the same time the guy who owned the computer was supposed to be a total guru. If the guy is a guru you will not break into his computer within 5 minutes. (Note, I have had to break into a couple of password protected computers. That usually took anywhere from 24 to 72 hours using some automated tools that I built myself)

Fibber McGee,

I have seen some TV shows that portrayed hacking into computers in a reasonable way. The X-Files comes to mind. It is pretty simple.

Guy gets to computer.
Hacker guy: Hey John Doe, this is going to take a while.
John Doe: How long? (Even though I should know because I am a genius)
HG: Well Lopht will take between 24 and 72 hours to run.
JD: OK, want a BigMac?
HG: Sure, you buying?
Other plot points happen until HG and JD come back. Shoot outs or whatever.
HG: “This is the password”
JD: “Right on…”

My little example is, of coarse, BS. I am not a writer. But these writers are getting paid a lot of money to write this stuff so they should AT LEAST try to make it somewhat reasonable.


Okay, you leave your computer running when not using it. I do this too. But if you’re playing a game, and decide that you don’t want to play it anymore, would you just get up and walk away without bothering to quit
(or even pause)?

I’d at least close the program so it doesn’t spin my CD drive for hours playing music (that isn’t being heard because the speakers aren’t on).

I tend to leave turn-based games like Civ3 running when I go to bed and resume the next day. Of course, I save first just in case.

BTW: it is quite common for people to leave artificial life programs like the Creatures series running 24/7.