Real life is different from tv…

You see “computer experts” on television shows who can pretty much do anything by tapping their keys and blabbering out a bunch of words the writers have heard their computer geek friends say.   Then they will do things that will make computer geeks laugh, or scoff.    Like:

Non-Geek Character:  “Omg, what’s happening??!!  I can’t get into Facebook!!!!”

Geek Character:  “They’ve launched a denial of service attack on our wireless router!!!”

NGC:  “FIX IT!! FIX IT!!!  I need to post this lolcatz to my wall!!!”

GC:  “I’ll brute force their DNS server!”

5 seconds later….

GC:  “I’m in!!!!”

So yeah…tv computer geeks never make mistakes and can always fix problems in the blink of an eye.   I’m not even going to explain why the above imaginary tv conversation is wrong on so many levels.

In real life the conversation would go like this…

Non-Geek Character: “Omg, what’s happening??!!  I can’t get into Facebook!!!”

Geek Character: “We blocked it.”

Non-Geek Character: “Oh”  …goes back to work.

I usually ignore some of the technical nonsense I see on TV.  Things like Criminal Mind’s Penelope breaking pretty much every privacy law ever made   (and quite a few technical ones),   but it seems that regular non geeky IT people are influenced by the massive technical prowess displayed on television and expect the same from technical people they encounter in their daily lives.

So here is a dose of reality for you:

The cool, quirky uuber techno wizard you see on television is, in fact,  an actor who probably has difficulty programming his/her PVR in real life.

In real life, uuber techno wizards look a lot like this:

Real Life Techno Geek

Bugs, glitches and equipment failures happen.   Even if there isn’t a plot hole to fill.   Everyone makes mistakes, and programmers are no different.   You know when your favorite software gets updated?   Yeah….bug fixes!  🙂

Sometimes computers run amok.  In movies and television it will often prevent the intrepid heroes from doing something,  or the running amok computer might be causing the end of the world…it’s important to remember that every piece of equipment that requires electricity to operate can be unplugged,  or somehow disconnected from its power source without the world ending.  This will stop The Bad Thing the computer is doing in its tracks,  every time,  even if the Bad Computer has a sinister looking countdown and flashing lights.

No matter how good you look in form fitting black ninja clothes,  it usually takes more then 3 or 4 minutes to download an entire hard drive to a USB flash drive.    If you can get to the point where you can stick a flash drive into a computer,   you can just download a program that will email you everything you need.   But really, there are a million ways to get that software onto someone’s machine without the need to have a carefully coordinated plan involving 5 people sneaking into a building supported by a guy in a van using a impressive array of electronics that could be replaced with a 1st generation smart phone.

Sometimes writers put no effort at all into their technical solutions.  Its important to remember that reinstalling Windows will not help, especially if you’re using a Linux server.

When someone hacks into a system they are not presented with a fantastical land of 3D imagery where security software is represented by bad men chasing the hero.   In real life, when you hack into a system,  you are usually presented with….

The underscore  (which is an old-timey cursor)  would be flashing if that helps at all.

Sadly,  once you get to this point there is about 50/50 chance that you can find what you’re looking for by presuming that many security settings were not changed from default.

Sometimes you will see some smart young kid who dances circles around old stodgy technically inefficient,  incompetent technical experts employed by the government.   This happens in the movies and while it might happen irl on occasion in most cases no.   The people who work technical security are people like me.   We grew up with technology when there was no internet…no google.  We had to figure it out all by ourselves,  sometimes with the aid of books but most of it was trial and error.    Essentially if you haven’t had to completely rebuild a system because you wanted to try something then you couldn’t really consider yourself a hacker.

So yeah,  if you show us something new,  we’ll pick it up pretty quick….because we’ve been learning and implementing new tech stuff while your parents were still in grade school 😉


6 thoughts on “Real life is different from tv…

    1. That’s awesome! Too many people nowadays don’t bother learning what makes things tick!
      Keep in mind though that IT jobs don’t pay that well at entry level any more. If he’s serious about a tech career and has the aptitude point him to systems analysis/engineering.
      My particular field of expertise clinical systems integration using HL7 is always looking for competent people. The only problem is getting a job where you can gain the experience.

      1. Thank you for the tip. He’s serious about wanting to do something with computers–he likes to build them, but he also teaches himself programming languages and all kinds of other stuff he finds interesting. He’s not sure exactly what direction he wants to go in yet, but he learns whatever he can and does a lot of reading about the industry.

      2. He’s on the right track then. The best advice I could give is that he pick something that he both loves and has an aptitude for.
        Programmers who code because they love it can usually code circles around people who get into the biz “for the money”

  1. Love it, great post. As for work, I’ve heard it said that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Might be stretching it a bit after 35 years doing this lark, but it is largely true. @transparentgut. Don’t forget tha there are many more disciplines and options out there than just PC’s. On the hardware side there are things like embedded systems and micro controllers and on the software side all sorts of things, artificial intelligence, vision and pattern recognition systems, robotics, automotive systems (do you know how many computers are in modern cars!) and of course military systems (the military are always after a smarter bomb although I wonder what will happen when they tell one to explode and it says no!) etc. A lot of those things bring together both hardware AND software so if your offspring is into the physical side of computing as well as the software side, there are lots of options out there. after all, software is pretty useless unless it can actually DO something.

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