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Top 10 things Hollywood thinks computers can do

A couple of weeks ago we covered the Top 10 biggest tech flaws in films, this week we've got a kind of sequel (in the best Hollywood tradition), and we're looking at the Top 10 myths has about how computers work in the real world. Now we understand the need to 'sex up' computers, as they'd otherwise be incredibly boring, but must these stereotypes persist? If you want it the other way round, we've also got our Top 10 things computers can do (but Hollywood thinks they can't)

10. When systems go wrong, stuff starts to explode

When a computer crashes in real life it's often quite annoying, but spectacularly dull to watch. In films, when a computer goes wrong, it's very exciting and stuff starts to explode. The way computers go wrong depend on the film or TV show.

In Star Trek, Kirk need only ask an alien computer to "Explain. The. Human emotion. Known. As.....Love", for it to go into a bizarre loop where its logical systems can't computer and it explodes. In Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (one of the worst films ever made), the destruction of the main ship causes the droid army to lose its control signal and fail - one of them even has his head fall off. Quite why you'd ever build this feature into your army of destruction is beyond us.

Sparking and exploding control stations is our favourite. Thankfully this doesn't happen in real life - imagine your keyboard exploding just because Windows had crashed again.

9. Guessing a password is easy

In all films when the protagonist gets to a vital computer that's protected by a password, guessing the password is always easy. Given three chances to make the correct choice, the following steps are taken: 1) they type one wrong password, 2) they think hard and type another wrong password, 3) they look round the room they're inhave a flashback to an earlier point in the show, find some inspiration and type in the correct password.

Just see the bit in Watchmen when they correctly guess Ozymandias' password by finding a book on his desk. It's almost as if in Hollywood people are required to enter passwords that are both easy to guess and have some kind of obvious personal connection to the person. And by no means ever should the password contain upper- and lower-case characters or numbers to make them harder to break.

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