Archive for the computers Category

I cast an Expendables movie featuring movie hackers…

Posted in computers, hackers, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , on March 16, 2012 by Paxton

LEB logo

We have a new assignment for The League this week. Brian borrows a topic from the Nerd Lunch Podcast. He wants us to cast a movie with the ultimate ensemble cast. I’ve decided to join him but I’m sure CT is going to yell at me to “SAVE IT FOR THE PODCAST!”

So, ignoring CT’s protests, I’m going to create an awesome ensemble cast for a movie about computer hackers. I want to create a super team of Hollywood computer hackers. However, I’ve decided to change it up a bit and cast movie characters as opposed to actors (which I guess you can say I’m technically doing actors, but just go with it). All of the actors that played the characters are still alive as far as I’m aware.  Also, this topic neatly ties into my last League article about a modern WarGames sequel.

So, let’s move on to my ultimate cast of movie hackers:

Kevin Flynn(Via Automotive Rhythms)
Kevin Flynn (TRON and TRON Legacy) – Kevin Flynn is the Obi-Wan Kenobi of computer hacking and the leader of my “Ocean’s 11 of computer hackers”.

David Lightman(Via Nick Step)
David Lightman (WarGames and WarGames 2: DECODR) – Lightman would be the Yang to Flynn’s Yin.  Almost as talented, but a little bit more daring and unpredictable.  He would be Flynn’s second in command. Notice how I put the title of my own WarGames sequel in the movie list after Lightman’s name?  What up, Hollywood?  I’m straight up prepared to sell you that idea.  Call me.

Chloe
Chloe O’Brien (24) – The lone girl hacker in this group and probably more intimidating than every other guy but one. I think I’m cheating a bit by putting a TV character in here, but I just couldn’t resist. She’s just so awesome in the show.  And I love the idea of her berating the rest of the team the whole movie.

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Uploading the Mad Magazine Computer issue from 1985

Posted in 80s, computers, Mad magazine, magazine, pop culture, technology with tags , , , , , , on August 19, 2011 by Paxton

Badass Book Report

Earlier this week I looked at the awesome Star Wars Q&A Book About Computers from 1983. In there we got to see Artoo and Threepio show us the until then current history of computers including an awesome painting of the droids playing an upright video game.

Then I took at look at the Marvel Super Heroes Computer Fun Book Two from 1984.  In there we saw lots of BASIC code for programs based on Marvel Super Hero adventures like the Iron Man Robot Retriever and Doctor Strange and the Computer Gremlin.

Today, I’m continuing my look at vintage computer activity books with Mad Magazine #258 from October 1985.

Mad magazine 258

This particular issue of Mad had a special “computer section” in the middle of the magazine. The feature article in that section was the Mad Computer Program.

Mad Computer Program 1
Mad Computer Program 2

The article provided code for three major BASIC platforms that you could enter into your computer and when you run the program, it would print out a special surprise output.  You can click the images above to see the code more clearly.

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A look at the Star Wars Q&A Book about computers (1983)

Posted in 80s, books, computers, movies, pop culture, reviews, Star Wars, technology with tags , , , , , , , on August 15, 2011 by Paxton

Badass Book Report

I love vintage kids books.  I love vintage pop culture books.  I also love vintage books looking at early computing technology.  This week, I get all three wrapped into one.  I’ll be looking at three early 80s activity books featuring awesomely retro computing technology.  Being a tech guy and a pop culture guy sure pays off some days. The first book I’ll be looking at is the Star Wars Question and Answer Book about Computers from 1983. SW Q&A book cover Yes, I know, mixing Star Wars and computer technology? Yes, please.  And the book is filled with some of the most awesome artwork mixing R2-D2 and C3PO and computer machinery. SW Q&A title The artwork in this book is by Ken Barr. Ken Barr is a comic artist. He’s done a lot of work for Marvel, especially back in the 70s and 80s with titles like Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, Doc Savage, Savage Sword of Conan and Rampaging Hulk.  Most of that work being for Marvel magazines that showcase the really nice painted look of Barr’s creations.  You can see a lot of that here, too. This book is mainly an information dump about computers, how they began and what they can be used for.  Much of the information is surrounded by Barr’s gorgeous paintings. However there are also pages without artwork but instead use photographs of actual computer machinery.

SW Q&A intro SW Q&A AppleIIe

Here’s the intro to the book explaining about computers. Next to the intro is another information page featuring a picture of an Apple II.  Click the images to make them BIGGER.

SW Q&A chess SW Q&A arcade

Here are some pages talking about computers and video games. You can see an adorable picture of R2-D2 playing chess against a computer and both Artoo and Threepio playing an upright arcade machine. I’m seriously in love with that arcade machine painting. See it much bigger here. Continue reading

Microsoft Windows 1.0 was released 25 years ago this week

Posted in 80s, computers, Microsoft, pop culture, technology, Windows with tags , , , , , on November 19, 2010 by Paxton

Orig MicroSoft logo

The original version of Microsoft Windows (v1.0) was released around 25 years ago this week. I say about 25 years ago because It’s really tough to pin down the actual release date due to differing information depending on where you look. If you look at official Microsoft history, they mention in one paragraph that Windows 1.0 was released in 1983, but then in the next paragraph they say Windows 1.0 was released in 1985.  Other places alternately list 1983 or 1985.  It’s possible that the first few releases of 1.0 (ie, 1.0, 1.01, 1.02) were not official and only demo releases.  Most places I check have the release date for Windows 1.0 to be Nov 20, 1985.  So I’m going with that.

Here’s the box for that first release of Windows.

Microsoft Windows 1.0 box

Windows 1.0 required you to use 10 installation disks. And they were floppies!!

Windows 1.0 disks(Via Digibarn Computer Museum)

The original Windows used a radical new GUI interface to handle typical computer tasks like starting programs and file management. This freed the user from having to type commands at a DOS prompt. Delivered applications for this release included a File Manager, calendar, clock, notepad and calculator.

Windows 1.0 screenshot

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The new Coke Freestyle soda fountain + other bad ass Coke machines

Posted in Coca Cola, hackers, internet, soda, technology with tags , , , , , , on July 23, 2009 by Paxton

Sodapalooza

Coca-Cola has started test marketing a new soda fountain called the Coca-Cola Freestyle.

Coke Freestyle machinesCoke Freestyle logo

It is run by computer and controlled through an LCD touchscreen.  The soda dispenser has the ability to mix up over 100 different types of sodas, waters, teas and energy drinks.  The menu even includes items not currently sold in the US like Grape Vault (yes, please!) and Raspberry Coke.  As of right now the Freestyle is only being test marketed in Atlanta and Southern California (list of locations here) but further test markets will be opened up in the Spring of 2010.  Don’t worry, that sound you hear behind you is a chorus of angels in the background singing “Ha-lle-lu-yah!”  Now, whenever I approach the soda fountain at Subway, I’ll immediately have brain shutdown due to the ridiculous amount of soda choices at my finger tips.

There have been rumors about this very thing for years. Coke and Pepsi have so many flavor variations around the world and the US really only sees a SMALL portion. Grape Vault? Are you kidding me? I really want to try that.  I’ve heard of Raspberry Coke in New Zealand, but it doesn’t sound THAT appetizing.  How about the discontinued Coke with Lemon?  It’s all up for grabs with this new machine.  However, don’t expect things like New Coke and Surge to be available, because this isn’t a time machine, it’s a soda machine.

Check out a video demonstration of this glorious machine here.

Now that the technology is here to let the dispensing machines do all the work for us, how long is it before we get into a SkyNet situation? I mean, are we just a lightning strike away from one of these machines going Johnny Number 5 on us? Will this be fun Johnny Number 5, or laser weapon fry your ass like a Roman Candle Number 5? How long before we see this:

Robot Coke Machine

Run tiny, Japanese children!! Run like the wind from the giant Coke branded inhuman monstrosity!!!! Save yourself!!!  It feeds on CHILDREN!!!  CHILDREN!!!!

Speaking of bad ass Coke dispensing Terminator machines, people have been hacking vending machines for years to make them better. One of the more popular things to do to a Coke machine is to connect it to the internet. Connecting your Coke machine to the internet allows you to check inventory levels and dispense sodas remotely from your computer. While this is quite awesome, it also calls onto the carpet not only your laziness, but the fact that you can’t even wait 30 seconds to put money in the machine and make a soda selection.  No surprisingly, this trend was started by Computer Science students.

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New Computer for me; well relatively new, not new-new

Posted in computers, humor, work on October 11, 2007 by Paxton

Winn-DixieWinn-Dixie finally refreshed the IT department’s computers. When I started here in 2005 I got a Dell Optiplex desktop with Windows 2000 (!), 512Mb of RAM and this gi-normous CRT monitor that took up my entire desk. To say my computer was old and slow would be like saying Gigli was a bad movie. REDUNDANT. As if old components wasn’t enough, all I had left on the hard drive was 100Mb. I don’t know what’s taking up all my space as I’ve uninstalled all unnecessary applications and deleted all my temp files. Since now there’s no room on the hard drive to create temp files my computer comes crashing down around me like an imploding Vegas casino whenever I try to open a Word document. I’m a computer professional, I should have a computer that is more commiserate with my mad programming skillz. This is like having Jeff Gordon drive in the Pepsi 500 with a Honda Prius. It’s absurd.

Anyway, corporate decided that we had suffered enough with resource errors and crashing hard drives and decided to upgrade our workstations. I thought I was going to get a brand new Lenovo desktop (yay!) but unfortunately they didn’t go that far. First they replaced my clownishly large monitor with a brand new, 17″ flat-screen work of art. The screen on this baby is like butta, my friends. So much easier on my strained eyes. It really does help with headaches and such after developing and writing code for 8-9 hours a day. Next they refreshed my computer with an extra 1.5Gb of RAM and Windows XP professional. Yes, Winn-Dixie adopts Windows XP only 6 years after it was released, Woo-Hoo! At this rate we’ll have Windows Vista by the time I retire.

new Computer

Here’s a pic of my new workstation. Gorgeous, isn’t it, daaaaahling? I’m literally tearing up as I type on it right now. Everything runs so much faster and cleaner. The colors are bright and not hazy. Letters and fonts are cleaner and easier to read. It’s a little poor boy’s dream come true!

When I came in the morning after they refreshed our computers all of our old CRT monitors littered the floor like some sort of computer graveyard. I bruised my shins trying to make my way into my cubicle.

 

 

 

Anyway, I was just so happy I thought I’d share. I should have a more appropriately Halloween-y article for you by Friday. I’ve been working on it the past few days but haven’t been able to gussy it up and make it look all purty for you guys. So check back in a few days for a more seasonally appropriate article.

 

Peace.

 

 

Geek Elite: Hollywood’s best computer hackers

Posted in 24, computers, hackers, humor, movies, pop culture, TV shows with tags , , , on September 26, 2007 by Paxton

Computer Hacking Skills

Yes, I am a computer geek. It’s what I do for a living, it’s what I do for a hobby. So it’s nice to see a movie that has an entertaining, and skilled, computer hacker amongst it’s characters. It’s also entertaining to see computer hackers that conform to the stereotype we all have; socially inept boobs who live in our parent’s basement and do nothing but play video games and hack into companies’ databases.

With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of who I think are the best computer hackers ever portrayed in a movie or tv show. My only criteria for choosing was that the geek in question actually exhibit some computer skills by hacking into something while onscreen and be somewhat entertaining. If his exploits are just alluded to or talked about, then no dice. So here is my list of Hollywood’s best computer hackers as seen by me. I’m sure there are a couple you think I’ve missed or neglected, so you can put your vote for your favorite in the comments.

Enjoy!

Lazlo HollyfeldLazlo Hollyfeld (movie, Real Genius) – How do you know you are pretty smart? An entire school of geniuses call you a genius, that’s how. That’s the position of one Lazlo Hollyfeld. After graduating Pacific Tech in the ’70s he retreats to an impressive secret laboratory we have to assume he built in the bowels of the school to…..well, they never actually say what he does down there. He helps some students reprogram the trajectory of a military laser to fire on the house of a professor. How cool is that? He’s become an urban legend around that school and that’s cool enough to put him on this list.

WyattWyatt Donnelly (movie, Weird Science) – He built a chick with his computer and a Barbie doll. I say it again, HE BUILT A CHICK WITH HIS COMPUTER AND A BARBIE DOLL. Move to the front of the line, Wyatt.

Mr UniverseMr. Universe (movie, Serenity) – The ultimate in paranoid genius. This guy holes up in his hidden headquarters spying on everyone else. He has hookups to every government net and news feed in the universe (hence his moniker). He also built a robot as a girlfriend and then married it. I guess genius is a double edged sword.

LutherLuther Stickell (movie, Mission: Impossible) – The Net Ranger. Phineas Phreak. This is the only man alive that has hacked NATO Ghostcom. That’s impressive and I don’t even know what NATO Ghostcom is. Although, as Luther will point out, there was no evidence he had anything to do with that. He’s the Shaft of computer programmers. He’ll hack your computer, steal your identity and bank accounts, then beat you down for looking at him funny. He’s one bad mutha….SHUT YO MOUTH!

MarshallMarshall Flinkman (tv show, Alias) – Mr. Flinkman is a total computer geek. He loves gadgets and he is really good as the head tech at spy shop SD-6. However, he’s not always the most socially adept person in the room. When explaining the gadgets for the current mission he tends to get a little excited and might either a) branch WAY off topic or b) get WAY too technical. He did put his life on the line in several missions so he’s got some spy cred.

ChloeChloe O’Brian (tv show, 24) – Chloe is the only person (let alone a chick) who can backtalk Jack Bauer and not come away with a hole in her leg, kneecap or chest. For that reason alone, she belongs on this list. Oh that and she’s sick with a computer. Need to break an unbreakable encryption in less than 5min? Call Chloe. Need to maneuver government satellites to a new position immediately? Call Chloe. Need to pull data off some electronic device that has been fried, shot up or destroyed? Call Chloe. She can do it all and treat you with complete and utter disdain at the same time. That’s so hot.

StanleyStanley Jobson (movie, Swordfish) – Stanley might be the best looking and most in-shape computer programmer since, well…..me. His interview with Gabriel (John Travolta) in the club is proof that Stanley has got SKILLZ. Why doesn’t this ever happen to me?

LyleLyle (movie, Italian Job) – Lyle roomed with Napster creator Shawn Fanning in college where he claims Fanning stole the idea for Napster from him. Because of this, he will only answer to “The Real Napster”. As the tech brains of the crew, Lyle hacked into LA’s Dept of Transportation in order to change the lighting of the traffic signals to lead their target armored car exactly where they wanted it to go. In the end, all the boy wanted was enough money to buy a set of speakers so loud they blow women’s clothes off. A noble goal, my friend. A noble goal indeed.

David LightmanDavid Lightman (movie, War Games) – One of the original gangsters of computer programming. You see the computer he used and what he did with it? He hacked his school, a computer gaming company and the US government, all with a computer that, today, would be akin to using an abacus to do your taxes. And he hooked up with Ally Sheedy when she was cute.

Kevin FlynnKevin Flynn (movie, Tron) – Mr. Flynn was Neo before there was a Matrix. Flynn was so good his company, ENCOM, stole his video game designs, made millions off them, and then fired him. He has been trying to hack into their system ever since. He got sucked into the world of computers and was treated as a God. That’s gotta do a number on your ego.

Well, those are what, I believe to be, the best hackers ever put to screen. Some people will harp on me not including Neo from the Matrix on this list. My argument is that his hacking skills were really only talked about in the movie. You never really see him hack into anything. He does some vaguely hackerish stuff right before he meets Trinity, but that’s it. I’m more impressed with the gentleman above. Also, all the characters from the 1995 movie Hackers are complete jack-holes, so I refuse to include them here.

That about covers it. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Holley….OUT.

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