Computer code in the movies -- and what it actually does


I’m almost surprised they haven’t adopted a standard "greeked" chunk of code by now.

“It’s a Unix system. Oh boy, are we screwed…”


Oooh, that’s a good idea for a random generator!

For example,

Sinisterness: |…0…|
Brainfuckedness: …0…|
Futuristicness: |…0…|
Zazzle: |…0…|

Would create random 8080 assembler, in glowly green on black. Whereas

Sinisterness: |…0|
Brainfuckedness: |.0…|
Futuristicness: |0…|
Zazzle: |0…|

would be the boot screen of an Amiga 500, and

Sinisterness: |…0…|
Brainfuckedness: |.0…|
Futuristicness: |…0…|
Zazzle: |…0.|

Would create something human-readable in spinning 3D starring Mick Jagger and Anthony Hopkins


It’s all a fuck ton less cringe worthy than this:


Tron also did something reasonable for once. Piping ps into grep, then attempting to kill said found process. I giggled in the theaters when I saw something sensible on screen that wasn’t an animated 3d swirly effect. Apparently this guy has a preference for emacs for whatever reason.


Ha! I feel dumb, I missed the part in the post where Rob talks about the use of NMAP in the Matrix.

I think there was some real-ish code in The Social Network and Girl with a Dragon Tattoo.

I recall being pretty excited to see Apache httpd.conf files edited on-screen in The Social Network when he indeed was setting up a website.

Yeah the social network even seemed to show KDE desktops appropriate to the time when facebook was started.

The terminator watched 6502 assembler. They can’t have made that up. Somebody must have had it floating around.

1 Like

There are a few services out there that let you hit any characters on the keyboard and print out code to the screen.

A quick search found, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen one that let’s you select between various languages. Also, you can pop up an ‘ACCESS GRANTED’ dialog by hitting alt three times.


Presumably because he has more than the average compliment of pinkie fingers…

All real hackers keep Nullsoft Beep running in the background.


Ohhh wonderful. I think I’ll do that the next time I’m fixing my MiL’s computer.
We need to Hack into Microsoft to fix your email.


After talking to a number of people with expertise in a variety of topics I have to say that we programmer types do not hold any special position when it comes to how Hollywood depicts our profession/hobby. It doesn’t matter if the subject is technical, legal, medical, business, investing, education, engineering, art, you name it. None of it is depicted accurately. And if you sit and watch a show or movie with an expert in the field they will cringe and shake their head and tell you what they’re doing wrong, that the line just delivered was meaningless jargon or the way the person is holding the tool (or animal, or prisoner) was wrong and inviting disaster.


Back during the first season of Babylon 5, there was an episode where somebody was misusing the Gold Channel for communication back to Earth, and whoever it was was able to stop Girabaldi’s console from tracing him or her. One time when Girabaldi had a trace going, and it failed, his screen went black with a blinking red rectangle at the top. I knew somebody working at Foundation Imaging at the time, and they confirmed that yes, in fact, Girabaldi’s console had just undergone a Guru Meditation…


Um, sorry: real hackers use butterflies.


Yes, as a painter, it always makes me cringe to see someone in a film describe a hack painting as a masterpiece.

edit: Of course, masterpieces are expensive, but there are some really talented painters out there who very rarely get their work onscreen. Almost had an orgasm once when I saw a Wayne Thiebaud in the background of a movie.


I like to watch old war movies to see where they pretend that generic Morse code practice recordings are real messages.

I don’t remember the exact context but the funniest one I ever spotted was TWAIN documentation in Gundam Wing. Example screencap here, looks like a medical scan but I think they did it for all sorts of things.

Slightly OT: That show also featured the most awful keyboards in existence (grid square vs … fuck, I can’t remember the term but let’s just say it was like a tic tac toe grid instead of what your keyboard is), an “Intel Outside” gag, and a slew of characters named after French names for numbers.


As implausible as the scene is in Swordfish (2001) where Hugh Jackman’s character is being asked to hack into a secure network while being fellated and having a gun pointed to his head, I vaguely recall what appeared on the screen to be not entirely insulting: I think it showed him accessing an FTP client (on the command-line!) which is at least plausible considering the historically accurate security holes in FTP services.