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Movies with a computer theme

Last post 06-19-2007 8:31 PM by sinistral. 32 replies.
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  • 06-03-2007 8:22 PM

    Movies with a computer theme

    Hello everyone, it's been quite a while since I posted, so maybe I can stir up a decent conversation with this topic:

     
    You've undoubtedly at least a few of the myriad movies out there that in some way involve computers or computer science as significant plot element. I'm sure we all have a special place in our heart for the ridiculously slow "Unix" system in Jurassic Park, or of a spandex clad Jeff Bridges playing with frisbees, but what about some of the more thought intriguing aspects of films like these? While many "computer" films aren't exactly Francis Ford Coppola masterpieces, many of them present absolutely intriguing ideas about hardware, UI, or even concepts as abstract as approaching the line between living organism and machine.

    As a fairly creative type myself, I've always found these sorts of movies interesting to watch. Not only to laugh at some Hollywood directors crude idea about how computers work and quip at the cheesy dialog (an acquired behavior from MST-3k), but to see what someone who's mind isn't as limited by an extensive knowledge of computers could imagine.

    For example, one thing that always intrigued me was the hardware configuration of HAL in Kubrick's brilliant 2001: A Space Odyssey. How did it work? What did the modular design of HAL's memory and computing mainframe suggest about the configuration of his programming? Or yet another example, the idea of a 3d analogous "world" as a UI for interacting with a system as seen in TRON or The Matrix. Despite all the false metaphors and Keanu-Reeves-a-Riffic acting, both movies do have a very interesting concept at their cores.

     So, what do you think?
     

     

     


     

  • 06-04-2007 12:48 PM In reply to

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    follow the white rabbit...

  • 06-04-2007 4:54 PM In reply to

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    Minority Report comes to mind.
    The "PreCops" there were operating on some futuristic gesture-driven touch screen system. Well, look how the GUI Apple's Apple Phone works and marvel at the similarities...

    The "touch screen" in the move also acts as a "drive" for the future equivalent of memory cards. The users simply needed to hold their cards near the screen and the data was transferred. Conveniently, a visualisation of the data moved from the screen onto the card too and was shown there in some kind of seamless display.
    Apparently, Microsoft is researching a similar technology for mobile phone/PC interaction. (You have a large screen, put your phone near it, it connects with the device using some wireless interface and you get a visual feedback on both the screen and the phone.)

    Agreed, the omnipresent iris scanners in the movie were propably a bit silly, but with the current RFID controversy going on, who knows, maybe we get a pretty similar situation with RFID readers sooner than we think...

  • 06-04-2007 5:18 PM In reply to

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    PSWorx:
    Apparently, Microsoft is researching a similar technology for mobile phone/PC interaction. (You have a large screen, put your phone near it, it connects with the device using some wireless interface and you get a visual feedback on both the screen and the phone.)

    http://www.microsoft.com/surface/

  • 06-04-2007 6:57 PM In reply to

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    RaspenJho:

    PSWorx:
    Apparently, Microsoft is researching a similar technology for mobile phone/PC interaction. (You have a large screen, put your phone near it, it connects with the device using some wireless interface and you get a visual feedback on both the screen and the phone.)

    http://www.microsoft.com/surface/

    That's it! If this isn't inspired by the movie (or vice versa) I don't know what is.

  • 06-04-2007 6:59 PM In reply to

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    Wow...imagine structuring an OS around an interface like that...

    You could integrate the keyboard into the screen, and you wouldn't need a mouse, so it would be more like a desk or table, rather than just a box on top of one. That could drastically alter the role of computers within our society... especially if you look at how computers have evolved time; not only in terms of size, speed, and memory, but also their place in society.
     

    heh... (lets imagination run wild)
     

     

    I'd love to have a workstation that had a big, huge screen like that. Maybe it would be mounted on swivels on both the X and Y axis so it could convert from a desk into a slanted work tablet. =)


     



     

     

     

     

  • 06-04-2007 7:42 PM In reply to

    • stratos
    • Top 75 Contributor
    • Joined on 09-06-2006
    • Zeeland, Netherlands
    • Posts 765

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    I know what is. A few years back some jap. company produced a proof of concept pen/stylus that could store a few kb (mb?) of data on it. You could transfer the data by selecting a copy option on a mobile device with the pen, then hold the pen to another device and "paste" the data.

    I googled a bit for it but couldn't find it. I did however found multiple patents for it.

    I think this might have been it: http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/5581783-claims.html
    but i'm not sure, and only read the title really. (i'm already sleepy as it is, don't need a patent form to make it any worse)
     

    My web-consulting company - My web development blog - "Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you." - C. G. Jung - PHP The Anthem
  • 06-04-2007 8:57 PM In reply to

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    RaspenJho:

    follow the white rabbit...

     

    bah...I refuse to associate with that movie. It is bad on so many levels (if there was a WTF for films, this would rival the Virtudyne saga). Just for reference, when the longest sequence in your film is a totally unncessary dance-orgy thing, that's probably a sign that you're lacking something.
     

    But I did like the idea of the "alter-reality" as a way of interacting with the computer. Excluding the "brain plug", I'm sure you could create an environment with today's modern systems that would work like a 3d "world" as an os. Sure it wouldn't be photo realistic, but I'm sure you could come up with great, simplistic ominous names for things like "The Root" or "The Source". And maybe even a 3d model of Laurence Fishburne that could do tutorials.

     

    oh that reminds me, any one ever looked into this? "Doom as an interface for System Administration"

    http://www.cs.unm.edu/~dlchao/flake/doom/after.html

    Talk about cool ^.^
     

     

     

  • 06-04-2007 9:01 PM In reply to

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    bohemeorange:
    RaspenJho:

    follow the white rabbit...

     

    bah...I refuse to associate with that movie. It is bad on so many levels (if there was a WTF for films, this would rival the Virtudyne saga). Just for reference, when the longest sequence in your film is a totally unncessary dance-orgy thing, that's probably a sign that you're lacking something.
     

    But I did like the idea of the "alter-reality" as a way of interacting with the computer. Excluding the "brain plug", I'm sure you could create an environment with today's modern systems that would work like a 3d "world" as an os. Sure it wouldn't be photo realistic, but I'm sure you could come up with great, simplistic ominous names for things like "The Root" or "The Source". And maybe even a 3d model of Laurence Fishburne that could do tutorials.

     

    oh that reminds me, any one ever looked into this? "Doom as an interface for System Administration"

    http://www.cs.unm.edu/~dlchao/flake/doom/after.html

    Talk about cool ^.^
     

     

     

     

    And yes, I realize that my avatar is in fact from a similar 80's supercheese movie, TRON, and I see the hypocrisy in that. But TRON had blue glow and Jeff Bridges, among other things. All the Matrix had was Keanu Reeves and that guy from Lord of the Rings.

     

    haha 

  • 06-04-2007 10:34 PM In reply to

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    Oh, and check this out. For those of us who are java enthusiasts =D

    http://www.forchheimer.se/bfm/
     

  • 06-05-2007 11:33 AM In reply to

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    stratos:

    I know what is. A few years back some jap. company produced a proof of concept pen/stylus that could store a few kb (mb?) of data on it. You could transfer the data by selecting a copy option on a mobile device with the pen, then hold the pen to another device and "paste" the data.


    Anoto, in Sweden, has what you're thinking of: http://www.anoto.com/?id=908

    -cw
  • 06-05-2007 2:11 PM In reply to

    • db2
    • Top 200 Contributor
    • Joined on 06-15-2006
    • Posts 348

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    Wargames all the way, baby. Though you'll have to forgive them for implying you can war-dial with an acoustic modem, or crack a key one character at a time. Definitely a good flick, in any case.
  • 06-05-2007 3:05 PM In reply to

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    Maybe.... Cloak and Dagger?

    I love the idea of embedding top-secret information in a game, where you have to beat the game to retrieve the info...

  • 06-05-2007 5:14 PM In reply to

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    RaspenJho:

    Maybe.... Cloak and Dagger?

    I love the idea of embedding top-secret information in a game, where you have to beat the game to retrieve the info...

     

    Didn't see the movie, but what would happen if the recipient was an excellent spy but a sucky gamer? :p 

  • 06-05-2007 5:24 PM In reply to

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    db2:
    Wargames all the way, baby. Though you'll have to forgive them for implying you can war-dial with an acoustic modem, or crack a key one character at a time. Definitely a good flick, in any case.
  • 06-05-2007 5:24 PM In reply to

    Deleted message

     

  • 06-05-2007 5:24 PM In reply to

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    db2:
    Wargames all the way, baby. Though you'll have to forgive them for implying you can war-dial with an acoustic modem, or crack a key one character at a time. Definitely a good flick, in any case.

    Why can't you wardial with an acoustic modem?

    Doing anything at the blazing speed of 110 baud, however... :)    (At least, that's how fast mine was...zzzzzzzzz)

    -cw

  • 06-05-2007 5:48 PM In reply to

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    PSWorx:
    RaspenJho:

    Maybe.... Cloak and Dagger?

    I love the idea of embedding top-secret information in a game, where you have to beat the game to retrieve the info...

     

    Didn't see the movie, but what would happen if the recipient was an excellent spy but a sucky gamer? :p 

    Dunno... ask davey.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087065/plotsummary

  • 06-08-2007 3:12 AM In reply to

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    PSWorx:

    Minority Report comes to mind.
    The "PreCops" there were operating on some futuristic gesture-driven touch screen system. Well, look how the GUI Apple's Apple Phone works and marvel at the similarities...

    I'll one-up you one over multi touch touch screens while we're talking about the employed hardware:

     http://www.k2.t.u-tokyo.ac.jp/fusion/LaserActiveTracking/

    Take a look from minute 2:06 of this movie:

    http://www.k2.t.u-tokyo.ac.jp/fusion/LaserActiveTracking/I-02-cassinelli.mpg

     

    P.S.: At this moment Microsoft is still somewhat 'cheating' with Surface and object interaction. For the live demo they used objects with barcode stickers on the bottom. I hope they'll support various types of wireless communication in the future, since object interaction like this is pretty nice imho.

  • 06-08-2007 4:47 AM In reply to

    • ammoQ
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 04-13-2005
    • Vienna.Austria.Europe.Earth
    • Posts 3,530

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    db2:
    Wargames all the way, baby. Though you'll have to forgive them for implying you can war-dial with an acoustic modem, or crack a key one character at a time. Definitely a good flick, in any case.
    Cracking a key one character at a time is unlikely with todays systems, but it's not completely impossible considering a very weak implementation that allows for timing-based attacks.

    For example, let's assume the passwords are not hashed, but encrypted character by character; the given password is checked like that:

    for (i=0; i<strlen(encrypted_password); i++) {
      if (encrypt(givenpassword[i])!=encrypted_password[i]) return FALSE;
    }
    return TRUE;

    Let's further assume that encrypt is written in a WTF way so it takes a considerable amount of time to encrypt a single character.

    If the system is written like that, the time to get the response is proprotional to the length of the substring containing correct characters; based on that, a "one character at a time" attack is easy.

     

    beanbag girl 4ever ... or maybe Astah girl?
  • 06-08-2007 10:17 AM In reply to

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    bohemeorange:

    Wow...imagine structuring an OS around an interface like that...

    You could integrate the keyboard into the screen, and you wouldn't need a mouse, so it would be more like a desk or table, rather than just a box on top of one. That could drastically alter the role of computers within our society... especially if you look at how computers have evolved time; not only in terms of size, speed, and memory, but also their place in society.

    Oh, but stuff like that, table-top touch-monitors, has already been invented and prototyped.

    The main problem is as follows:

    1. reading information from an interface is most comfortably done on a vertical surface (monitor). A table-top monitor would be tiring from having to bend over it the whole time. I need to be comfortable, preferrably sitting.

    2. interacting is best done on a horizontal surface. A vertical touch-screen is highly fatigueing to use continuously, with your arms in the air. It only works in short sessions, such as the train ticket machines we have here. I need to rest my arms somewhere.

    You work it with your hands/arms, but view it with your head/eyes. In short, it's hard to integrate these two fundamentals of interaction into one object that can be used for hours at a time.

    Maybe it would be mounted on swivels on both the X and Y axis so it could convert from a desk into a slanted work tablet.
     

    A setup where you could freely tilt and position both the flatscreen and the keyboard/mouse would be really nice. If the screen is touch-responsive and all mice are replaced with tablet pens, it might work.


    In complex analysis, a meromorphic function on an open subset D of the complex plane is a function that is holomorphic on all D except a set of isolated points

  • 06-08-2007 3:25 PM In reply to

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    dhromed:

    The main problem is as follows:

    1. reading information from an interface is most comfortably done on a vertical surface (monitor). A table-top monitor would be tiring from having to bend over it the whole time. I need to be comfortable, preferrably sitting.

    2. interacting is best done on a horizontal surface. A vertical touch-screen is highly fatigueing to use continuously, with your arms in the air. It only works in short sessions, such as the train ticket machines we have here. I need to rest my arms somewhere.

    You work it with your hands/arms, but view it with your head/eyes. In short, it's hard to integrate these two fundamentals of interaction into one object that can be used for hours at a time.

    Well, you could put the table in a 45° angle :p 

  • 06-11-2007 8:23 AM In reply to

    • Devi
    • Top 500 Contributor
    • Joined on 10-23-2006
    • The Netherlands
    • Posts 109

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    bohemeorange:
     

    You've undoubtedly at least a few of the myriad movies out there that in some way involve computers or computer science as significant plot element. I'm sure we all have a special place in our heart for the ridiculously slow "Unix" system in Jurassic Park, or of a spandex clad Jeff Bridges playing with frisbees, but what about some of the more thought intriguing aspects of films like these? While many "computer" films aren't exactly Francis Ford Coppola masterpieces, many of them present absolutely intriguing ideas about hardware, UI, or even concepts as abstract as approaching the line between living organism and machine.



    It's probably not what you're thinking off, but I was always intrigued by the scene in Swordfish where the guy tries to code (or hack or something) while being fellated by some blonde woman after drinking a shot of vodka... I've suggested to my boss that such coding techniques might have considerable benefits for staff morale but so far he's not biting :(


  • 06-12-2007 5:34 AM In reply to

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    Devi:
    bohemeorange:
     

    You've undoubtedly at least a few of the myriad movies out there that in some way involve computers or computer science as significant plot element. I'm sure we all have a special place in our heart for the ridiculously slow "Unix" system in Jurassic Park, or of a spandex clad Jeff Bridges playing with frisbees, but what about some of the more thought intriguing aspects of films like these? While many "computer" films aren't exactly Francis Ford Coppola masterpieces, many of them present absolutely intriguing ideas about hardware, UI, or even concepts as abstract as approaching the line between living organism and machine.



    It's probably not what you're thinking off, but I was always intrigued by the scene in Swordfish where the guy tries to code (or hack or something) while being fellated by some blonde woman after drinking a shot of vodka... I've suggested to my boss that such coding techniques might have considerable benefits for staff morale but so far he's not biting :(

    You don't actually think I can write a single line of code while I'm being pleasured?


    In complex analysis, a meromorphic function on an open subset D of the complex plane is a function that is holomorphic on all D except a set of isolated points

  • 06-12-2007 1:27 PM In reply to

    • db2
    • Top 200 Contributor
    • Joined on 06-15-2006
    • Posts 348

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    CodeWhisperer:

    db2:
    Wargames all the way, baby. Though you'll have to forgive them for implying you can war-dial with an acoustic modem, or crack a key one character at a time. Definitely a good flick, in any case.

    Why can't you wardial with an acoustic modem?

    Doing anything at the blazing speed of 110 baud, however... :)    (At least, that's how fast mine was...zzzzzzzzz)

    -cw

    There's no way for the modem to put the line back on the hook between calls. Funny how obvious it is in the film, and yet I didn't even notice this goof until I read mention of it somewhere else. :)

  • 06-12-2007 2:37 PM In reply to

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    Ah, i see what you mean...I guess that such a kid could just rig a switch that could be controlled by the computer...complete the phone circuit when a particular port turned on, break the circuit when it turned off.

    Makes at least as much sense as hacking the department of defense in 60 seconds while being blown ;)

    -cw

  • 06-12-2007 5:41 PM In reply to

    • tster
    • Top 25 Contributor
    • Joined on 04-11-2006
    • Natick, MA
    • Posts 1,781

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    slackers
    The pig go. Go is to the fountain. The pig put foot. Grunt. Foot in what? ketchup. The dove fly. Fly is in sky. The dove drop something. The something on the pig. The pig disgusting... see bio for the earth shattering ending.
  • 06-12-2007 9:53 PM In reply to

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    db2:
    CodeWhisperer:

    db2:
    Wargames all the way, baby. Though you'll have to forgive them for implying you can war-dial with an acoustic modem, or crack a key one character at a time. Definitely a good flick, in any case.

    Why can't you wardial with an acoustic modem?

    Doing anything at the blazing speed of 110 baud, however... :)    (At least, that's how fast mine was...zzzzzzzzz)

    -cw

    There's no way for the modem to put the line back on the hook between calls. Funny how obvious it is in the film, and yet I didn't even notice this goof until I read mention of it somewhere else. :)

    I think you mean "acoustic coupler", not "acoustic modem". Every voiceband modem is an acoustic modem, as it encodes data as sound and transmits it in the same manner as voice communication (as opposed to, for example, a DSL or cable modem, which work quite differently).

  • 06-15-2007 10:06 AM In reply to

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    How about the movies AntiTrust or Firewall ?
  • 06-18-2007 6:37 PM In reply to

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    A first of wholly correct IT display I saw was in The Departed (recent version), where Matt Damon is in the office, taking a still from a security cam on which Leonardo can be seen, graphically enlarges it and... IT STAYS BLURRY!

    In complex analysis, a meromorphic function on an open subset D of the complex plane is a function that is holomorphic on all D except a set of isolated points

  • 06-19-2007 12:34 PM In reply to

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    pitchingchris:
    AntiTrust


    I love it! Along with Pirates of Silicon Valley...

    Join us at #TDWTF on irc.slashnet.org !

  • 06-19-2007 12:56 PM In reply to

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    dhromed:
    A first of wholly correct IT display I saw was in The Departed (recent version), where Matt Damon is in the office, taking a still from a security cam on which Leonardo can be seen, graphically enlarges it and... IT STAYS BLURRY!

    ... what?! You mean you can't actually digitally rotate objects and look behind them if all you have of them is a single blurry photograph like in The Net? My whole world just fell apart!

  • 06-19-2007 8:31 PM In reply to

    Re: Movies with a computer theme

    One of my favorite computer-ey movies of all time is Sneakers.  If there's any of you out there that haven't seen this movie, go rent it today.  Better yet, pay the $10 to add it to your collection.  There's some great things, like phone phreaking by blind character, because his hearing is sophisticated enough to discern tones.  The idea of tracing a trace on you in real time (something I believe is impossible, but I won't swear to it).  Defeating the man-trap security system (which actually exists and was featured on an episode of MythBusters not that long ago).  And, of course, the device that drives the plot is one that will decrypt anything.  Fun flick.  I always thought the ending scenes with Ben Kingsley and Robert Redford were outstanding.
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