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Realistic Portrayals of Software Programmers? 874

lwbecker2 asks: "Warren Harrison has written a thought-provoking editorial piece on The Software Developer as Movie Icon. He explores the fact that new entrants to Computer Science curriculum are typically clueless about what 'real' developers actually do. While researching the issue of why this is the case, he determined that some potential CS degree seekers are forming opinions from portrayals in movies and cinema. He describes what he asserts to be inaccurate portrayals of developers in War Games, TRON, and The Net, and asks for input and opinions on 'the impact of the cinema and television on new software developers' expectations, as well as learn of any films that do a better job of portraying our profession...' I am sure Slashdot readers have some input on this, and I am curious if people believe _any_ movie has acurately portrayed software developers?"
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Realistic Portrayals of Software Programmers?

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  • by jpsst34 ( 582349 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:25PM (#5327751) Journal
    ... are so obvious here that no one needs to make any. If you do, I might set the building on fire.
    • First space is SOOO unrealistic.
      The average computer programmer does all of his programming at night, while drinking lots of wine??? (ewww hit the hard stuff already) and while hallie barry is naked in the room with you.
      Oh and you have like 50 computer screens in front of you all showing rotating 3d objects. No...not for 3d development...for straight programming silly. Dont you have that C++ addon?

      If you can get all the pretty shapes to align then you are done!
      *cough*Office Space*cough* But you must keep all this a secret, last time I told my boss that he asked what real work I had got done in the last month and then fired me...but then i stayed and they kept moving my desk...but i kept my stapler.
    • How about Terrance Mann in Field of Dreams?

      Everyone forgets about that one. Although the focus was primarily on the charecter as a writer, he was *was* a full time writer of educational computer games.

      I thought it was done rather well.

  • by dubbayu_d_40 ( 622643 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:26PM (#5327754)
    was pretty accurate.
  • by govtcheez ( 524087 ) <> on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:26PM (#5327757) Homepage
    Most of the software people I know look just like Hugh Jackman, get to hook up with Halle Berry, and routinely do neat secret agent stuff.

    Or at least I wish they did. Office Space has the most accurate portrayal of programmers I've ever seen in a movie.
  • by jabbo ( 860 )
    comes immediately to mind.

    Michael... BOLTON?!?
  • by KDan ( 90353 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:26PM (#5327768) Homepage
    But it was so boring it never got published.

    • by Teach ( 29386 ) <graham@grahammit c h> on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:47PM (#5327987) Homepage

      This pretty much nails it, here. Signal 11 said something on Slashdot a couple of years ago regarding this that I saved:

      "Let's face it: the life of a geek is boring. We spend all day in front of our computers checking our e-mail, coding, and sitting on our duff doing 'nothing'. At least to the untrained eye. On the molecular level, however, we are quite busy."

      Couldn't have said it better myself. It's just hard to make this profession look interesting on the big screen.

  • got one... (Score:5, Funny)

    by igottheloot ( 573080 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:26PM (#5327769)
    revenge of the nerds.
  • duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Telastyn ( 206146 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:27PM (#5327782)
    Has the film industry portrayed any normal person accurately? No. Normal people are boring.
    • Re:duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mike_mgo ( 589966 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:36PM (#5327866)

      Most cops aren't out there chasing down serial killers, most lawyers aren't fighting some evil corporation, and I doubt many spies blow up a whole lot of stuff. But movies about writing traffic tickets, filing divorce papers and staring at satellite photos aren't that exciting.

      You've really got to get out a little more if you're basing career decisions on the movies.

    • Re:duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DaveAtFraud ( 460127 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @04:17PM (#5328270) Homepage Journal
      The *first rule* for viewing anything that comes out of Hollywood is SUSPEND DISBELIEF. Why stop at complaining that Hollywood doesn't portray "normal people" accurately? Hell, these are the same people whose guns never run out of ammunition (unless its needed for the plot), people firing pistols can hit their target from a car going 90 mph down a bumpy residential street while the driver swerves to avoid obstacles and someone else shooting back at them, explosions in space make noise, tires squeal on dirt roads, etc. Why take Hollywood to task for not accurately portraying some "normal people" when they can't even accurately portray physical reality?

      This may explain why my taste in movies from Hollywood tends towards commedies (they're supposed to not represent reality) or fantasy (what reality?).

      • being the same as the speed of light...
      • Re:duh. (Score:3, Funny)

        by sean23007 ( 143364 )
        Actually, there are four primary rules for watching movies coming out of Hollywood. Here they are:
        1. Do not talk.

        2. Do not talk.
        3. Do not ask questions.
        4. He is always still alive.
        I hope that clears some things up. Feel free to quote these rules when someone is bugging you throughout the movie trying to get you to explain what just happened and asking you incredulously if the bad guy or good guy is really dead.
  • What? (Score:5, Funny)

    by cybermace5 ( 446439 ) <> on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:27PM (#5327783) Homepage Journal
    Computer guys are the ones that hack into computers in a minimum of keystrokes, and say "We're in." And they always develop some evil artificial intelligence that threatens the world, and they can get incredible detail from a blurry photo simply by saying "Enhancing." Everybody knows this stuff.

    I don't think the portrayal is inaccurate at all. But then I'm an EE.
  • by $$$$$exyGal ( 638164 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:27PM (#5327785) Homepage Journal
    The most accurate portrayal of a computer has to be when the little girl says: "I know this, this is UNIX" - Jurassic Park.

    --sex []

  • Sadly, (Score:5, Informative)

    by SplendidIsolatn ( 468434 ) <splendidisolatn@y[ ] ['aho' in gap]> on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:27PM (#5327787)
    Office Space is much closer to reality than fiction for programmers, even though they are a sidebar in the story. Most people in programming are not going to be sitting in their own world, and will have to be interactive in an office environment. In most cases, you better get used to the drugery of TPS reports and interacting with people from a wide variety of departments rather than slamming out code.
  • Office Space (Score:5, Informative)

    by Fished ( 574624 ) <> on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:28PM (#5327792)
    Office Space accurately portrayed the pit of hell that is corporate software development:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:28PM (#5327793)
    I feel that the movie "Pi" is an accurate portrayal of software developers. After the first couple days of each week, listening to the sales manager tell every potential customer that we can do absolutely anything virtually for free and yesterday, I wish I could drill a hole in my skull too.
  • so what's new? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mgs1000 ( 583340 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:29PM (#5327799) Journal
    Do cop shows accurately depict cops?
    Do westerns accurately depict cowboys?
    Do war movies accurately depict soldiers?
    Does pr0n accurately depict sex?
    The list goes on...
    • by jpsst34 ( 582349 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:33PM (#5327841) Journal
      "Does pr0n accurately depict sex?"

      Yes. Duh. For me sex always involves at least 9 people, wives who don't care, and lots of toys, preferably of the mechanically driven kind. Oh, and people shaving one another. Gotta have that.
    • by Chazmati ( 214538 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:51PM (#5328031)
      My friends (mostly engineers) and I were discussing the success of shows like ER, Law and Order, Ally McBeal, Scrubs, etc. It seems like the popular shows are based on doctors, lawyers, or police work.

      "Why not a show about engineers?" someone asked.

      "Yeah, we could call it 'CR' - Conference Room! They could show us sitting around at boring meetings, eating doughnuts, writing emails and stuff..."

      That's when we realized why there are no shows about engineers.
      • by biobogonics ( 513416 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @04:48PM (#5328577)
        "Why not a show about engineers?"

        Go out and rent Apollo 13. It has some of the best engineers as hero scenes on film - complete with computers & slide rules.

        Remember the scenes where they have to power up the frozen command module without going over budget on amperage? Yes, software development is sometimes like that - with severe constraints, painstaking work and testing - and rewarding results.

      • Charles Bronson. Death Wish [1-5]. Architect.

        MacGyver. MacGyver. All around geek and secret agent.

        James Bond. Dante's Peak. Geologist.

        Mike Brady. Brady Bunch. Architect.

        Quinn Mallory. Sliders. Applied Physicist.

        Ellie Arroway. Contact. Radio Astronomer.

        Victor Frankenstein. Frankenstein. Biological Engineer.

        Henry Mitchell. Dennis the Menace. Engineer.

        Lionel Jefferson. The Jeffersons. Engineering Student.

        Julian Wilkes. Viper. Engineer.

        Chuck Noland. Castaway. Systems Engineer.

        Chris McCormack. Eight Legged Freaks. Mining Engineer.

        That's the best I can come up with :-)

    • My father is an ex Army helicopter pilot and flight instructor. We just love James Bond movies.

      Whenever there's a computer on screen, I tell him: "Well, actually that's impossible" and why. Whenever there's a helicopter on screen, he tells me: "well, actually, no helicopter is capable of that" and why. Or: "See that Russian soldier? Well, he's using a rifle of the Isreali army, wrong equipment again."

      Yeah, I know that it's just a movie, but we get the kicks out of it... :-)

      "Golden Eye" was an example, with its wonderful IBM product placement and unique chat software used by the geek and the bond girl. And virtually every modern Bond film includes an impossible or close-to-impossible helicopter stunt.
    • by hondo77 ( 324058 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @04:08PM (#5328172) Homepage

      Does pr0n accurately depict sex?

      Are you kidding? For most people here, pr0n is sex.

  • What self-respecting developer hasn't pictured himself immersed in a high-tech world interacting with characters and enviroments controlled by a hostile master control program, Fighting for change against impossible odds?

    Oh wait, you aren't reffering to .NET developers are you?
  • by CommieLib ( 468883 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:29PM (#5327805) Homepage
    The basic problem is that simple stories require simple characters, and generally, we're not talking Jane Austen where computers are involved.

    Display a computer programmer that works out, or has a family, etc., that takes time out from the CG and explosions. It also confuses the stupid audience that flocks to the picture...

    Having said that, I thought Hugh Jackman's programmer in Swordfish was presented as pretty cool, even the rest of the movie was totally goat.
  • Those nerds that Matthew Broderick went to ask questions of in Wargames.

    The fat hacker in Jurassic Park.

    In enemy of the state there was some guy (Jack Black) in a van.

    On and on...
  • by RichardtheSmith ( 157470 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:29PM (#5327808)
    It shows programmers working their asses off on some new communications system...
  • if films != reality and tv != reality and nonFictionBooks != reality then ( Welcome to life. )
  • I'd read the article, but I'm too busy hunched over a desk writing code to keep NSA from invading my brain.

    10: Get tinfoil
    20: Apply to head
    30: Return to 10
  • Not cops, not firemen, not spies, not presidents, not traditional scientists. Why should computer scientists be any different?

    Accurate portrayal of people's real life jobs in movies would just be boring anyway.

  • I'm convinced the prediction for Mr. Gates in the South Park [] movie will eventually come to pass.
  • by marsvin ( 84268 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:30PM (#5327819)
    Hollywood doesn't portray anything or anyone accurately, not just programmers, but secret agents, scientists (the most dangerous profession, according to the movies), police officers, psychiatrists, airline pilots, women, and vegetarians as well... even "normal" people are somehow made extra-normal on the screen.

    If you look to films and television for career guidance, chances are you wouldn't make a good programmer anyway.
  • See The Pentagon Wars [] for a good example of how projects work once you get out into industry.
  • by Nept ( 21497 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:33PM (#5327839) Journal
    Bob Slydell: If you would, would you walk us through a typical day, for you?

    Peter Gibbons: Yeah.

    Bob Slydell: Great.

    Peter Gibbons: Well, I generally come in at least fifteen minutes late, ah, I use the side door--that way Lumbergh can't see me, heh--after that I sorta space out for an hour.

    Bob Porter: Da-uh? Space out?

    Peter Gibbons: Yeah, I just stare at my desk, but it looks like I'm working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch too, I'd say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work.

    • by GuyMannDude ( 574364 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @04:46PM (#5328564) Journal

      The Hollywood portrayal could be worse, you know. Just imagine if they portrayed debugging like a ST:TNG episode, complete with flashing red alert lights and lots of noises:

      Picard: What's our status?

      Data: The process is attempting to completely allocate all available memory and CPU cycles.

      Worf: Available memory is down to 50%. 40%...

      Picard: Suggestions?

      Riker: Perform a break. Try to find out what happened.

      Picard: Make it so.

      Data: Ctrl-C was not successful. Process is still consuming resources.

      Worf: 30%, 20%...

      Wesley: Captain, this may be due to an incorrect check in the while loop...

      Picard: Shut up, Wesley!

      Geordi: Captain, we're losing segmentation containment. We've got to dump the core!

      Worf: ...10%...

      Picard: All hands, this is the Captain! All hands, log out! Repeat, all hands log out!

      Kaboom! Blue screen of death.


  • While researching the issue of why this is the case, he determined that some potential CS degree seekers are forming opinions from portrayals in movies and cinema.

    So once again we take the opinions or ideas of the Galactically Stupid, and assume that it is a problem for the population in general. Nice job.

  • Forget Office Space, all geeks look like this []
  • RevolutionOS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ForsakenRegex ( 312284 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:34PM (#5327855) Homepage
    It doesn't get anymore accurate.
  • If I got a cent for evey time I had to crack 128 bit encryption whilst getting a blowjob and with a gun to my head I'd have almost a dollar!
  • the one thing that really pisses me off in movies about computer nerds are the sexy, spinning 3d graphics/text combination, as if that's what the screen actually looks like. but then i guess

    /gov/nsa$ _

    wouldn't be as cool...

  • by duck_prime ( 585628 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:36PM (#5327872)
    If the mass media has a silly view of programmers, it is too late to change it. When I first saw Jurassic Park, and they had that scene in the outdoor cafe where they start zooming in on the greasy fat unpleasant guy, one phrase was zooming through my mind over and over: "Please God don't let him be the evil computer guy."

    Me and God have to have a little talk.
  • it's not the movie representation of software developers that attracts students to CS courses, since obviously that's only something that real cool geeks pretend to do as a day job - I'm thinking Hackers, Swordfish... those are the kinds of movies that make computer science seem cool - and yeah, there are some of the stereotypes the author of the article is complaining about, but there's also definate suggestions of what he wants - teamwork, and people actually engaging in social interaction (if you can call Halle Berry that...). Anyway, I'd rate both of those above Tron, and *don't* get me started on The Net...
  • was sorta realistic, except for the whole "Bill Jobs trying to kill OSS developers" sideline...

    unless... maybe RMS should watch his back, eh? :)
  • Realistic (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sagwalla ( 551658 )
    I am sure Slashdot readers have some input on this, and I am curious if people believe _any_ movie has acurately portrayed software developers?

    Weird Science?

  • (Score:5, Informative)

    by gosand ( 234100 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:38PM (#5327887)
    Yep. was a pretty accurate portrayal. IMDB Link []

    It was a documentary, and it was real people, but what do you want, another Office Space comment?

    Actually, a pretty accurate portrayal of a programmer in a movie was in Pump Up the Volume, even though he ran a pirate radio station and wasn't a programmer. He worked out of his parent's basement, was a loner, and had a different on-air personality than in real life.

  • I've always antitrust was very good. No silly interfaces, stunts or anything.
  • by aridhol ( 112307 ) <> on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:38PM (#5327895) Homepage Journal
    Nothing in the movies is ever represented properly. Face it. Who would watch a cop show if 95% of it was patrolling the streets issuing parking tickets?

    Most people have some idea of what a cop is. They know what the army does. They can identify a firefighter in uniform nine times out of ten.

    Outside of the computer industry, nobody knows what a programmer is. They don't know that there's more to computers than Windows, so why should they know about computers?

    One portrayal that annoys my wife and me is the portrayal of people in chemical/microbiological suits. The suits always look good on the actors. My wife works in one (she studies ebola). It's a big blue vinyl bag. Not form-fitting. It tends to make you look like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man. It's uncomfortable. You have to shout to be heard in them.

    So remember, programmers are not the only groups misrepresented. We're probably not the most misrepresented group. Next time you watch a show that includes any real-life profession, ask yourself how close they are to reality. Then complain about programmers being misrepresented.

  • by collin.m ( 207384 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:39PM (#5327909) Homepage
    just yesterday I did compile a list [] with all movies on this subject that I know of, with a short rating and a feature list.
  • by fjordboy ( 169716 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:41PM (#5327926) Homepage
    I'm not trying to be redundant or anything here...but the second I saw the newspost, I thought of Officespace and how incredibly clever I was coming up with that name. I was thinking of my +5 "Insightful" score and how after people saw how clever I was and how knowledgable with movies I was, my self-confidence would be boosted and I'd be certain to find a woman. However, after clicking "read more" and discovering that 99.9% of all the posts refer to Officespace in one way or another, I was horribly dissappointed. But..I still wanted to post just to show that I'm still clever even if I wasn't the first one.
  • by tx_mgm ( 82188 ) <> on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:43PM (#5327942)
    so you're looking for accurate depictions of software programmers in movies? i hope this helps!
    i usually roll out of bed around 11 or noon (up all night clubbin wit da ladies!) and drive to work in my brand new hummer, completely disregarding traffic signals, speed limits and roads in general. assuming there arent any high speed chases with the bad guys on the way, i make it in to work in time for the boss to yell at me again for "violating protocol" again! im such an eXtreme programmer and i do things my way! thats about when the terrorists show up to the building to take my girlfriend hostage, forcing me to have to fight them all with my bare hands and the occasional uzi taken from fallen enemies (everyone else is taken hostage too, so im the only one that can fight). since im so ripped, i can streetfight anyone and win easily! at around 4 or 5 pm i manage to get to the leader and fight him to the death at the top of the building, throwing him off in the process. once i get my woman back, we get it on and then im off to the clubs for the night! but trouble arises at the club......

    oh wait, you want honesty? well heres honesty: unless its a comedy, dont make movies about software developers!
  • Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by iamdrscience ( 541136 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:44PM (#5327949) Homepage
    Tron wasn't that far off for its day, at that time there were a lot fewer large programming projects and as such a lot fewer teams of developers. It was much more common for a programmer to work by himself or herself than it is today.

    Also, while War Games obviously wasn't 100% accurate, it was definitely more realistic than the Net, Hackers and a lot of other movies featuring programmers.

    Movies aren't even meant to be 100% accurate, they're meant to be entertaining, it just happens that Firefighting and law enforcement are professions that are more entertaining than computer programming so they have to be changed less. Even those professions aren't portrayed accurately though like the article claimed, firemen spend most of their time waiting for fires, not putting them out and when they do put out fires more often than not they don't actually have to save people. Cops are the same way, they're not usually doing drug busts, catching robbers, using their keen investigative wit, going on high speed car chases, getting in shootouts or anything, most police work is driving around and filing papers.
    • Also, while War Games obviously wasn't 100% accurate, it was definitely more realistic than the Net, Hackers and a lot of other movies featuring programmers.

      I'll second that. How many other movies are that that devote that much time to researching the target system to figure out the password? Any other movie would have just run a fancy graphical version of crack. I mean, sure, some of the technology (like Joshua, and the graphics capabilities of an IMSAI) was made more Hollywood, but I think the character depictions were dead on.

      Oh, and Lightman, good thing you didn't try to swim: skinny geeks like us sink like rocks.


  • by Dolemite_the_Wiz ( 618862 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:45PM (#5327958) Journal
    In every intro level Archaelolgy course I've taken, there is always a comment in the text books on how Archaeology is nothing like the world of Indiana Jones.

    Then again, the intro level courses are to weed out people who aren't ready for the rigors of a given dicipline.

  • scientists (Score:3, Insightful)

    by meridoc ( 134765 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:46PM (#5327972)

    "Real" jobs are seldom shown correctly in movies or TV. How many lawyer/cop/hospital shows are there?

    However, even though the jobs aren't shown realistically, is that necessarily wrong? Didn't watching "Voyage of the Mimi" make you want to get into oceanography? Watching "Mr. Wizard" make you want to blow things up? Seeing "101 Dalmations" make you want to get a dalmation? (okay, maybe not, but dalmation sales did increase after the movie was re-released.)

    My point is, maybe TV and movies don't show a realistic view of programming/chemistry/life in general. Every job, in some way, involves banging your head against the wall and filling out paperwork for some reason or another.

    I'm not advocating lying about what your job really entails, but isn't it a good thing if you can get kids interested in something?

  • by tmhsiao ( 47750 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:46PM (#5327980) Homepage Journal
    Although that one scene with Lucy Liu as the dominatrix consultant showed teeming masses of geeky wage slaves, it did have the redeeming quality of her shouting, "Who builds the company's products?! YOU DO!"

    I remember watching that at about the exact same time our own tech team was denied free sodas by our pigfarking CTO.
  • Thanks Hollywood.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dragonshed ( 206590 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:48PM (#5328000)
    Hollywood glammorizes ANY professional field, not just software developers, etc. I remember the first time I learned that Court cases took longer than a few weeks (I was 15y/o, mind you), because I followed the OJ murder trial. My intake of movie drama had preconditioned me to think all Lawyers were as thoughtful and explosive as Tom Cruise was in A Few Good Men, wailing at Nicholson, "I want the truth!" And then Nicholson responds, "You can't handle the truth!" It's practically never the case.

    I was (and still am) quite disappointed. My first assumptions about Law were based on movies, which, if you ask any Lawyer, are dramatized to the point of fiction.

    Much is the same with Technology. Anyone who's sat through Hackers will tell you how much of a (bad) joke it really is. The other great example is Swordfish, when Hugh Jackman hacks into a computer system in 60 seconds, at gunpoint, with a woman giving him head. Come on :p

    The point is this: Anyone who wishes to join any professional field should realize that work takes effort. If a movie gives you inspiration and/or a desire to look further into something you find interesting, fantastic. Seek out what you dream and live it. But be prepared to find something a little less idealized, something a bit more down to earth.
  • by iocat ( 572367 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:50PM (#5328026) Homepage Journal
    All aliens use AppleTalk...
  • Documentary (Score:4, Insightful)

    by redragon ( 161901 ) < .ta. .llennodoc.> on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:52PM (#5328038) Homepage

    This is about engineers, but might be a good taste.

    I was also thinking that perhaps placing some web-cams in a computer lab around the deadline for large projects would be interesting. In my software engineering courses, the groups of students working together going back and forth is a great example of what software development ends up being like.

    Seriously, people in STS programs should be taking this as a hint, more studies please! :)
  • by Lethyos ( 408045 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:55PM (#5328066) Journal
    Would you rather have the masses read /. to form their stereo types of CS people?

    "Computer science is clearly a field for people with enormous anuses, way too much time on their hands, hot grits down their pants, and a homosexual lust for cowboys."

    Of course, this isn't too far off the mark from CMU.
  • by damieng ( 230610 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @03:57PM (#5328085) Homepage Journal
    Like anything is accurately portrayed in the movies.

    Car's don't blow up with a single gunshot and rarely in a crash and you can't throw away the laws of physics when having a fight or shooting weaponry.

    They're movies, get over it. I doubt any doctors or lawyers find their roles portrayed particularly accurate either.
  • What I do (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mugnyte ( 203225 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @04:00PM (#5328113) Journal
    Personally, I have never seen any movie work as I do. Been programming 15 years running, and of course I've changed my style but...

    There is a time period in coding where one, sooner or later, has all the knowledge ready to spill out from their fingertips, and the screen(s) are setup for maximum coding output. It's in this time that I've been simply focused to the bone on some problem, wheel invented or not. This is a point of headphone blaring, slouching tapping and screen flipping that looks completely boring to an observer. In team jobs, it can be even more fun.

    I don't think the movies would ever WANT to depict this strange ritual.
  • by SuiteSisterMary ( 123932 ) <slebrun AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @04:03PM (#5328124) Journal

    Speaking as a Jedi, I have to say, the movie portrayals are quite unrealistic, but frankly, it's the only way to get new members.

    I mean, for every trade negotiation that turns into an assassination attempt and daring escape from a battle fortress, there are thousands that are just plain boring; you sit around, listen to proposal and counter-proposal repeated verbatium for hours, until somebody changes something a whit, repeat, for a few weeks, then you break up for consultations.

    For every five minutes you get to duel with a Sith Lord, you spend YEARS doing the sword-technique equivalent of sitting at a keyboard, typing 'jjj[space]fff[space]jjj[space]fff[space]'

    Anywho, I don't mean to get off on a rant here, but the life of your typical Jedi is NOTHING like those flashy bastards you see in the movies.

  • by Bowie J. Poag ( 16898 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @04:07PM (#5328166) Homepage
    I don't.

    I enjoy getting paid more because people are a little scared and a little bit intimidated by us. Letting them peek behind the curtain isn't a healthy career move.
  • ID4? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Astin ( 177479 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @04:11PM (#5328203)
    What about Jeff Goldblum's character in Independence Day? Let's see... generally ignored and looked down upon, until everything gets fubar, THEN they turn to him, and he basically says: Yah, well, I knew that all along, but nobody was paying attention to me or bothered to ask. All you management are all alike. Oh, and then he makes that kick-ass virus that can be uploaded seamlessly into an alien computer system and displays a skull and crossbones as it does the dirty work.

    Or perhaps Joe Morton's Miles Dyson from Terminator 2? Working with a team to reverse engineer a foreign piece of technology. Working long hours, forsaking his family for the project, always spending time on his computer. Also, completely ignoring the possible ramifications of his actions because the possible breakthroughs and creativeness are too tempting. Not to mention that he's observed the security measures at his place of employment and thought of ways to circumvent them.

    Or how about Demon Seed? Ok, maybe that wasn't quite so accurate for 1977...
  • by oakbox ( 414095 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @04:27PM (#5328381) Homepage
    He describes what he asserts to be inaccurate portrayals of developers in War Games, TRON, and The Net

    These movies PRECISELY describe what I do all day. Why, right this minute, I'm typing on one of my 8 totally custom made keyboards suspended in the air around me by a complex system of racks and harnesses, while glancing from side to side at the 21 monitors hanging around my control chair (with power swivel), and protecting my neon-lit plexiglass-cased server from being attacked by rogue agents and crackers going after the kernel! I'm regularly stopped by agents in expensive suits and 400 dollar Ray-Bans on the street and threatened about my attempts to bring down the national infrastructure with my super password cracking program that, if released, would allow instant access to every system on the planet. And don't even get me started with my super intense VR room in the back that let's me have hyper-realistic "intimate encounters" with my computer-generated love slave(s).

    I think we need to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding our profession and let the world know that we absolutely have the best fucking jobs on the planet.


  • SHHHHHH! (Score:5, Funny)

    by gnovos ( 447128 ) <> on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @05:29PM (#5328999) Homepage Journal
    PLEASE don't tell the the truth... the more people think that I'm capable of breaking into top secret databases, alter credit cars statements, revoke driver's licenses, reroute spy satelites to take ultra high-res pictures or Natalie Portman sunbathing, etc. all from a public phone booth with a paperclip, the more likely I'll be able to look cool and suave to the ladies... Don't blow my cover man!
  • by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) <> on Tuesday February 18, 2003 @05:39PM (#5329126) Homepage Journal
    Office space was a good representation of the office working environment. Stupid bosses who don't do anything. Idiotic tasks specifically designed to waste time. Policies enforced just to annoy you (You forgot the cover sheet on the TPS report). "Friendly" staff evaluations to randomly lay off good staff..

    Been there, lived through it..

    A portrayal of my life would be pretty .. well .. boring. I do a lot of nothing, and don't get what I want to do accomplished. Oddly enough, what I want to do, and the company projects, are one in the same.. Read on...

    Follow me through Sunday evening and Monday..

    ---- Sunday Evening.
    Sunday, 6pm.. Coding new authentication module for Apache..

    20 minutes reading (from my personal O'Reilly library, dejanews, and the very few sites that may have clues to what I'm doing).
    30 minutes writing.
    5 minutes reading work
    2 seconds deciding I didn't like parts of it, and deleting 90%
    drink a beer.

    [lather;rinse;repeat] for the next 8 hours. On the weekend. Like, when I'm not even supppose to be working.

    Pager beeps at 2am. One server with 6 months of uptime is unreachable.
    Log into server. It's running.
    Check httpd processes, they're running.
    Try browsing to server, it's unreachable.
    30 seconds scratching head.

    Kill all httpd processes. Restart web server, check error logs. Starts normally.
    Try browsing to server. It's unrecachable.

    Reboot server (for spite).
    2 minutes drinking beer.

    Server's back up, still can't browse to it.
    netstat -a -n

    Oh look, one IP has 10,000 connections from a university in Russia (, for those really interested)
    verify TCP_SYNCOOKIES enabled. yup.
    Check logs. No entries for that IP.
    Drop traffic that /24's traffic at the router.
    Browse to site. It works.

    Drink more beer. Go to bed at 3am

    Monday morning.

    Wake up late.

    9am Drag my happy ass into office.

    9:20 discussion of what happened, and what we can do to prevent it happening again. I suggest going into used car sales.

    10:00 arrive at my desk.
    10:01 users start asking for their forgotten Email or FTP passwords.

    10:20 start back on authentication module.
    10:21 phone call forwarded from support.
    10:45 hang up on support call. I hate users.

    10:50 start back on authentication module.
    10:51 "Urgent" help needed for other people's broken CGI's.
    11:45 Finish fixing really shitty CGI's.

    11:46 decision: module or smoke.. Choose smoke. Can't find cyanide cigarette, choose cloves instead.

    12:00 back to desk with sandwich in hand.
    12:00.01 Can you help this guy on line 3?
    12:15 get rid of guy on phone. Unwrap sandwidth.
    12:16 "My computer has a blue screen, can you help me". Decision: shoot user, or hit reset for them.
    12:17->12:30 listen to user cry because they had some important program open, and I lost it. I'm so evil.
    12:31 pick up sandwidth
    12:31.0001 phone rings. Boss wants to talk about last night. I remind him I sent an Email on it. He asks for his Email password.

    12:45 I reach for the sandwich. "important" customer walks in, asking for changes to his site. I point to my sandwich. He says it'll only take a minute.

    1:30 {sigh} I look longingly at my lunch. Quickly I scribble on a post it "Comitted Suicide, memorial next week", and put it on my door. Phone stays outside the door too.

    1:31 the first bite of my sandwidth.. MMmmmmm.. Almost as good as street meet, with less rodent parts.

    1:35 all gone? I'm still hungry.

    1:36 begin work on authentication module.
    1:37 boss walks in (didn't he read the note?), wants to know why I haven't finished the authentication module.. And then throws another task at me that's more urgent.
    3:30 more urgent task done. Back to authentication module.
    3:35 parts arrive for servers that we've been waiting for, for 2 weeks. Delegate work. Spend the next half hour explaining how to do 5 minutes work.
    4:15 smoke. smoke. smoke. it's oddly quiet. No phones, no users. I wonder if I can bring my laptop down here.

    4:30 authentication module. I still haven't written one line yet, but I'm trying..
    4:31 Boss comes in screaming, I think one of the networks is slow. Spend the next hour justifying the fact that nothing is slow, enforced with transfer rates and ping times.

    5:30 smoke.
    5:45 contemplate suicide. Go back to office anyways. Start working on authentication module.
    5:50 girlfriend calls. "Why don't you love me, you never spend time with me."
    6:20 finish with girlfriend. Take elevator to top floor to find out roof access is locked (smart people).
    6:30 go home.

    So, today I accomplished exactly *NOTHING*.

    That's my typical fuckin' work day.

    I've gone as far as to put the phones outside my office door (including cell), put a big note explaining that I'm on an important project and to leave me alone. I then lock and barracade the door. That'll get the boss banging on the door within 5 minutes. {sigh} After asking if I'm ok, and why I did it, he then asks if the project is done..

    I tried working from home one day, because there was a project that needed to be completed (the boss wanted it immediately).. The boss insisted that I keep my phone on, in case there were emergencies.. I took 68 calls from the office that day.

    I can't win.

    I may as well be doing TPS reports with fish flavored cover sheets.

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito