Ask Hackaday: Hacking lingo fails

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Ah, CSI. What other television show could present digital forensics with such two-bit dialogue?

It’s time once again to put on your hacker hats – a red fedora, we guess – and tell us the worst hacker dialogue you’ve seen in movies or TV. We’ve seen a ton of shows and movies where writers and directors spend zero time doing any sort of research in whatever technology they’d like to show off in the story they’re trying to convey. Usually this results in lines like, “I’ll create a GUI interface using Visual Basic. See if I can track an IP address.” It’s technobabble at its best, and horribly misinformed at its worst.

We’re wondering what you, the readers of Hackaday, think are the worst examples of hacker lingo fails. Anything from, ‘Enhance!’ to the frightening real-life quote, “the Internet is not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes.”

We’ll compile your suggestions in a later post, but I’m betting something from Star Trek: Voyager will make the #1 technobabble/hacking lingo fails. There’s just too much in that show that isn’t internally consistent and doesn’t pay any heed to the laws of (fictional) physics. Warp 10, I’m looking at you. Of course there was the wonderful Habbo reference in last week’s Doctor Who, but I’m betting that was intentional as [Moffat] seems pretty up to speed on the tropes and memes of the Interwebs.

About a month ago, we asked you for your take on the worst hacking scenes ever shown on TV or film. The results made for good viewing, albeit with a surprising absence of Lawnmower Man. Now we want some dialogue to go with these horrendous hacking scenes. So, what say you, Hackaday? What are the worst hacking lingo fails you’ve seen or heard? Please be specific about what movie/TV show you’re referencing. Last time some good stuff probably slipped by because people just said a few words without context assuming we’d know exactly what they were referring to.

Ask Hackaday: What movies have the best/worst hacking scenes

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It’s time to do your best impression of [Comic Book Guy] as you make your case for trash or triumph in big screen hacking scenes. We watch a lot of movies, and it’s hard not to groan when the filmmakers cut corners by doing zero research into what using a computer actually looks like. But then once in a great while you have a team that does its due diligence and puts up a scene that makes sense to those of us in the know. So we’re wondering, what movies do you think have the best hacking scenes, and which ones are the worst offenders? Leave your opinion on the topic in the comments section.

We realize that you can come up with tons of poorly done ones, what we would really like to hear about is who did it right. We’ll get you started with a couple of examples. The image on the upper left is a scene from Tron: Legacy which we think did a fantastic job of portraying actual computer usage. You can read more about the huge amount of work that went into it in this article (via Reddit).

In the lower right is one of the most shady movies scenes that comes to mind. [Hugh Jackman] is compelled to do some ‘hacking’ by [John Travolta] in the movie Swordfish. The caption at the top of the screen is “COMPILER”, and who the heck knows what the rest of that is supposed to be?

On the hardware hacking side, it gets a little more difficult, we would LOVE some examples of hardware hacks or mods done right.

How NOT to make ground-hugging fog

Poor [Todd Harrison] spent all of Saturday and Sunday trying to make some ground-hugging fog for his Halloween decor. His fog machine hack turned out to be an utter failure. But he admits it and reports that he still had a lot of fun. Don’t feel bad [Todd], this happens to everyone from time to time. And anyone that has doubts about [Todd’s] skills need not look very far to find out that he does know what he’s doing.

The project started off with a theater-style fog machine. The problem is that this fills a room with a thin foggy-haze that doesn’t take shape outdoors. He wanted that ankle-deep graveyard effect and had seen several examples online that use a fog-machine with a bucked of dry ice. He though he’d just use his own bucket full of regular ice and salt water. Inside the bucket seen above there is a 15′ coil of copper tubing through which the fog machine’s output is passed. On the other side of the bucket there’s a plastic tube that goes to a sheet of plastic meant to distribute the cooled fog.

The problem here is that the fog machine puts out a hot mist. When it hits the ice bath the mist condenses into liquid form and that’s the end of the fog. As he attests in the video after the break, the dry-ice fog hack isn’t pumping out fog. It’s just using the heated steam to pump out carbon-dioxide vapor boiling off of the dry ice.

Continue reading “How NOT to make ground-hugging fog”

Robotic Schadenfreude – quadrotor blooper reel

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While quadrotors might just become the killing machines of choice some time in the future, we’re pretty sure it will be awhile before they run amok and wipe humans off the face of the planet, if the following video is any indication.

The team over at UPenn’s GRASP Lab film everything they do when it comes to quadrotors for posterity’s sake. When your awesome job consists of directing quadrotors through all sorts of acrobatic hijinks however, mistakes are going to happen. Thankfully, the team doesn’t keep these a secret, and while we’re typically wowed by what these flying machines can do, it’s also pretty fun to see them fail in such spectacular fashion.

If you have a spare minute, kick back, fire up the video, and enjoy the mechanical mayhem that ensues. We certainly sleep better at night knowing that while these things are awesome, a well-placed hula hoop is all it takes to ensure continued human supremacy.

Continue reading “Robotic Schadenfreude – quadrotor blooper reel”

And we’re back

Several of you were rather angry with us yesterday for our competition. Those not in the loop, our email competition@hackaday.com was not correctly configured and no body could send in their entries!

But have no fear, we have fixed the problem and now you can send in your guesses. To remedy the situation we have decided to extend the competition until 10AM PST Monday the 1st of February, 2010. We will announce the winner (so long as nothing else fails) Monday afternoon. So what are you doing here still reading? Time is wasting – go win some tickets!

Cheap and flimsy PC case provides no protection

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[Rafael] tipped us off about a “case mod” he completed for his PC. The email he sent provides no details and the link just shows five pictures of his computer in a “dead file” container (we’re guessing he doesn’t want to be an Internet sensation). What we get out of this is that he took a corrugated plastic box meant to house old files on shelves, and thew a set of computer parts inside of it.

This would be a great hack if [MacGyver] needed a computer to defuse a ticking bomb while trapped inside of a room built completely out of metal. The plastic provides protection from shorting out the motherboard but, other than low cost, that’s the only upside of this hack.

The downside here is obvious, there’s no protection from physical damage. In fact, a good bump might flex the box enough to slam the motherboard into the PSU housing. And what’s with the external WiFi fob? We could understand the point of this a bit better if it could blend in with a rack of archived files in the back room.

We give this one an ‘A’ for creativity, a ‘B-‘ for execution, and an ‘F’ for longevity. This should have been built in an acrylic case sized to fit perfectly in the yellow plastic box. But what does your unorthodox PC case look like? Let us know by sending in a tip.

Pwnie Award Nominees 2009

The Pwnie Awards are an annual event at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. They award the Golden Pwnie in a variety of categories: mass 0wnage, most innovative research, most overhyped bug, most epic FAIL, and our favorite: Best Song. Embedded above is [Paco Hope]’s 50 Ways to Inject Your SQL. While a strong entry, it doesn’t touch last year’s winner Kaspersky & Me: “Packin’ The K!”.