Halt and Catch Fire: The Most Relevant Show on Television

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/08/22/hcf.html

1 Like

And the longest post on BB goes to…


Hashtag NotAvailableToStreamInTijuana

Edit: Netflix is fickle. I’m able to see the entirety of Elementary here, but not across the border.

1 Like

I love the show despite the cringe inducing tech.

It’s full of almost CSI level inaccurate computer tech:

  • MS-Dos boot up screen on an IBM System/360 mainframe
  • Person Types Load “Program.exe” without the ,8,1 on a C64
  • Somehow competitor steals their phone lines … they did not have voip in 1982.
  • Worm on a C65 that deleted all the data on customers computers … HOW?
  • Blowing on an Atari 2600 cart … nobody did that with the 2600.
  • Too much text on a C64 screen and graphics more like CGA on a PC.

The show suffers from 90s kids not bothering to call up a 70s nerd.

It’s clear they really want to use modern computer ideas in a period where it wasn’t quite there yet to contrast but it can come off as really weird.

If Mr. Robot can get the details right I wish this show would.


Whoever maintains the WP install: is it not possible to do an auto cutoff for the blog view? Usually the regulars are okay about remembering to do this, with the slipup every so often, but with occasional contributors it seems arbitrary and unnecessary.

As far as whether or not it’s worth doing this: do any regular readers actually use the “normal” mode? I’ve been coming for probably 7 years at this point and my immediate reaction whenever I see the front page is “shit, forgot to add /blog like they make us do now.”

/disappointment in BoingBoing (are we still doing that?)


Near the beginning, the article says the show returns ‘Monday, August 23’.


an early technical command that sends a computer into race condition,
forcing all instructions to compete for superiority at once.

Uhhhh, that doesn’t sound right. I thought it meant getting the CPU into a non-responsive state.

1 Like



Seconded for read-only-in-blog.

Also hate all these embedded video clips that are too wide for blog view.


well, race conditions can lead to non-responsiveness, though I think in this case it was usually just an endless loop (though the first HCFs were just jokes in the manual, they didn’t actually do anything).


The most important part is that we get more shows with interesting names out of it. “LP0 On Fire” documenting some early computing history, anyone?


While I admire your desire for perfection I’m going to take issue with the comparison to CSI.

That list is a bunch of stuff I wouldn’t pick up ever.

Meanwhile on CSI…


I will grant you that.

Still the whole “Network mapping” program on the C64 that mapped the companies “Network” was about that level of the GUI interface to track the killers IP.

All they were building the equivalent of a really big BBS and not actually connecting to the that new fangled arpanet.

Oh yeah, networks existed but easily on early PCs and commodore 64s.

Ethernet was seriously in it’s larvel stage in 1983.


I have to admit two things:

  1. I’ve never actually watched this show, but it looks cool and I am downloading… ahem “adding it to my netflix queue” as we speak.

  2. I would use pretty much any excuse to embed that CSI clip in a post, I just love it.


I don’t remember beards and mustaches being a thing for the 80s. You had holdovers from the 70s like Burt Reynolds, and Kenny Rogers, but unless you were a gay village person, or in the military/police/fire department, mustaches like that dudes were not a thing.

1 Like

That thar just made my day.


You know what really makes this show… Lee Pace’s fucking eyebrows… they are on fleek!

I mean look at those expressive things above his eyes man!

Also, the soundtrack is kicking.


“Race condition” is when two or more threads/processes/cores/cpu’s etc. access the same (unprotected) resource in a non-deterministic (and unintended) fashion, usually as a result of a programmer failing to take into consideration issues of concurrency in the particular system. The term implies “whoever gets there first, wins” which is a misnomer, because typically each thread of execution will access the resource repeatedly at the same time, resulting in absolute garbage, failure, bad results, and ultimately a very low level exception (crash) etc:

Edit: on older PCs with a single CPU , instead of throwing an exception and being neatly halted by the OS, the program would just keep going, eventually driving off the rails and into the weeds. It would start trying to execute any ol’ memory it found – sometimes random data in memory almost looks like valid instructions. On my C64, it wouldn’t be too destructive – most likely the CPU would traipse along, and disable interrupts which would take out the keyboard and any IO operation would stop, but it had a RESTORE key you could press to sort it all out.

The opposite of a “race condition” (which results from badly written code) is “deadlock” which occurs in ostensibly better written code. OSes provide their code writers some nifty tools to prevent race conditions, such as spin locks, semaphores, mutexes, and serial execution queues, but misuse of these can result in deadlock which often appears as an unresponsive program:

Somebody mentioned some kind of TV show… so what’s that all about?


Those are some bad ass brows.