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Movies errors, a wish list (posted by Fabien Villard)

Lately I re-read a list of errors about computers [fr+en] (sorry for English readers, items are in English but comments are in French) found in movies. It’s not exactly the first time I’ve read such a list and it’s always amusing to see a collection of problems movie makers do about our domain, but this time something popped up in my mind: a lot of those errors are not errors at all, they are what we, as common users, would request our computers to do for us.

Let’s take some examples:

  • Movie characters never make typing mistakes.

Isn’t it a dream for all of us to be able to interact with a computer without the hesitations, mistakes and inversions that we do every day in speech? Is it a so terrible thing to request that computers should be able to understand little errors and avoid bad misunderstanding? For example when a compiler says: “Error line 10, missing termination quote.”, is it bad to think that it should be able to add it without complaining?

  • High-tech computers, such as those used by NASA, the CIA or some such governmental institution, will have easy to understand graphical interfaces.

  • Those that don’t have graphical interfaces will have incredibly powerful text-based command shells that can correctly understand and execute commands typed in plain English.

  • Command line interfaces will give you access to any information you want by simply typing, “ACCESS THE SECRET FILES” on any near-by keyboard.

Well… Obvious isn’t it?

  • People typing on a computer can safely turn it off without saving the data.

Why should we still have to bother with backups? Computers are known to fail for a huge collection of reasons. Some of the failures may even appear as pure expressions of the chaos theory (same causes bring different consequences). Why aren’t they sold with built-in gear to protect against such unpredictable behaviors? Is it that the new stuff would be also candidate for pure epidemic failures?

  • Computers only take 2 seconds to boot up instead of the average minutes for desktop PCs and 30 minutes or more for larger systems that can run 24 hours, 365 days a year without a reset.

  • Most computers, no matter how small, have reality-defying three-dimensional active animation, photo-realistic graphics capabilities.

Is it so laughable to imagine a computer that would not hog all resources you give it? Is it so unrealistic to imagine a computer that does not spend a precious time to do strange things as waiting tenth of seconds for an electronic device functioning at light speed to finally conclude that the device is not present?

  • If a disk contains encrypted files, you are automatically asked for a password when you insert it.

  • Computers can interface with any other computer regardless of the manufacturer or galaxy where it originated. (See “Independence Day”.) 

  • Computer disks will work on any computer has a floppy drive and all software is usable on any platforms.

Standards. I pray for standards every day. Is it surprising for not IT-trained people to have difficulties to understand why each new thing governing the IT world exposes a new completely re-designed and non-compliant way of doing things? As a specialist, I do not understand either.

Ok, they laugh at movie-makers because they don’t know, those poor guys, how computers go. But wait! What if we were the real culprits because we are not able after all these years to built computers that act correctly?

One Response to “Movies errors, a wish list”

  1. 1
    DVAU:

    Thank you Fabien for the fun!
    Beyond that, I fully agree with your conclusion. We have to question our practices if we are to fulfill the expectations and the myth people put in information science. Proudly talking about our “best practices” is certainly not enough…

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