Three Computer Movie Myths

Jul 26, 2011

Tech Solutions

Pardon me as I digress from my normal technical tip. I have a bone to pick with Hollywood!

Like many of you, I’ve found myself planted on the couch in the evening watching a crime drama or science fiction movie. At some point in these shows, someone starts using a computer. I fidget a little and my eyes perk up. Inevitably though, I find myself slapping my forehead and saying to my wife “This is bogus! They can’t do that with a computer.” In case you’ve ever wondered if something you’re seeing on television is actually possible, here are a few of my pet peeves with Hollywood’s portrayal of how computers work:

  1. Any blurry image or video can be made clear –  Unless Hollywood has some ability that isn’t on the market yet, there are limitations to how clear you can make a blurry image. It all depends on the quality of the original image how legible it can be made or how large you can make the image. No matter how good the computer artist is, they’re always limited by the source image or video. If the source is a very high resolution, it’s possible to zoom in on a particular part of the image and have it still be very clear. However, this isn’t usually possible with a grainy Polaroid picture or with a security camera in an underground garage.
  2. Voice recognition works the first time, every time – Voice recognition is something that has been around for some time, but it’s far from perfect. As a testament to its instability, simply pick up your phone and call a major corporation that uses voice recognition on their phone tree. Like me, you may find it to be an exercise in frustration as you’re yelling “I said option TWO!” to your handset. While there are software manufacturers that have products that learn your voice and are able to determine your intentions with a high degree of accuracy, we’re still a long way from dropping our mice and keyboards from our computers.
  3. Computer hacking is a piece of cake and you never get caught this one has always bugged me because it causes young people to be interested in computers for the wrong reasons. The fact remains that computer hacking is difficult and slow, and if done on the wrong systems for the wrong reasons, is illegal. Most targets of computer hacking have systems in place to protect themselves and log intrusion attempts. With these logs, they’re often able to catch the perpetrators with a very high amount of success. Additionally, learning to hack is not an easy undertaking. To do it properly takes many days, weeks, and even years to learn programming languages and understand the intricacies of various computer system architectures. No, it’s not easy to become a computer hacker nor is it something you should strive to be. Instead, focus on security and how you can benefit computer users rather than trying to emulate what you see on television.

Okay, I’m off my soap box now.  🙂

I found a really interesting article on the web which brings out these three myths in addition to a few more.

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