Cinema Frivolities

Updated 2017-04-07

An insight of Hollywood: Writing movies for fun and profit (Thomas Lennon & Robert Ben Garant, 2012)

Some uncanny movies

French age certifications

(U = no restriction)

Computers in movies

Jurassic Park

When Lex tries to take control of one of the computers in the command centre, we get to contemplate how she skillfully navigates the system using a (laggy) 3D file browser. Surprisingly, this is not just an eccentricity of some movie writer, the program, called fsn, actually existed by the time the movie was written. See Wikipedia/Fsn.

An open source and “modern” clone called fsv has been developed, if you’d feel like playing Lex with your computer.

“It’s a UNIX system! I know this!” – Lex Murphy

The Social Network

There is a famous urban legend around M. Zuckerberg who purportedly “hacked” its campus network while being intoxicated. The myth of the genius struck us one more time. While some dark arcane of hackerism spread through the collective mind, the movie shows a much more realistic version of the petty offense:

Despite the lack of details, all the steps happen to be mundane tasks related to automated network queries.

The scene is appreciable in its realism about hackerism and helps debunking the myths around such performances.

Tron: Legacy

The movie shows a (surprisingly) witty use of computers.

Around the beginning of the movie, during the meeting with all the executives, we get a short glimpse at one terminal running an Eshell session, the Elisp shell of Emacs. Most certainly the top of the world in Geekland…

One subliminal frame in the same scene shows a session of Tetris run from Emacs, while the command hanoi-unix was just entered…

When the main character first discovers the secret room with the terminal, his first reflex is to type the following meaningful commands:

$ whoami
flynn

If you’d be given a computer that has been kept running for years, you’d like to know who was using it last. This is what he is checking.

$ uname -a
SolarOS 4.0.1 Generic_50203-02 sun4m i386
Unknown.Unknown

uname is a universal command for showing the type of system the machine is running. It appropriately shows the OS name (a cross-over between SunOS and Solaris?), the version, the kernel (Generic…), the machine hardware name (i386, a popular architecture by Intel), and possibly the “Unknown” hostname (which unveils the latent mystery around the machine!).

$ login -n root
Login incorrect
login: backdoor
No home directory specified in password file!
Logging in with home=/

Now this gets a little more creative: login with the backdoor name is a very naive method to hack your way toward full-privileged access to a computer!

# bin/history
...

history is usually a command embedded in the shell, but nevermind… It would have been much more sensible to run the history command when logged as flynn, and not as backdoor.

It shows the list of the last commands that were typed. Again, it totally makes sense to do so if you want to investigate how a computer was used the last time.

Among the various history entries, we can recognize the compilation of some program, the editing of the last will, some system status checks and finally the execution of the Grid simulator (last command), which projects our hero to a virtual world.

Nmap vs. Hollywood

See official website for an impressive list of movies where Nmap gets to be a rock star!