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This Supercut Shows How Hollywood Thinks Hacking Works

One movie trope Hollywood just can't seem to move past? The frantic hacker. Here's how those scenes usually go: A character on the screen is shown banging away at a keyboard while a timer counts down and lines of code flash across their monitor. But how realistic is that? YouTuber elsafrickey compiled clips from various movies made between 1970 and 2000, and the resulting supercut shows that while technology has changed over the years, the misrepresentation of hacking has remained consistent.

One of the films included in the supercut is the 1995 cult classic Hackers. In conjunction with the film's 20th anniversary, the website Hopes and Fears gathered a group of real hackers together to watch and discuss the scenes that they say created a "certain mystique around hacking culture that other tech films never quite matched." The hackers took issue with several parts of the movie, from the characters' most basic actions to what the film got wrong about coding. "I think one of the most unrealistic parts is taking a floppy that you wrote on a machine, putting it in another one, and all of the files had no read errors," said someone identified only as Hacker 2, to which Hacker 4 added, "I think one of the most unrealistic things is pulling something from a Mac and putting into a PC in that era."

Still, the creative liberties filmmakers take make sense, one hacker told Hopes and Fears. "The truth is that if you were to watch a real movie about real hacking, it would be the most boring sh*t imaginable. It would be unwatchable," the anonymous source said. Eric Limer of Gizmodo has also defended these kinds of big-screen depictions, writing that "there's a whole host of problems, starting with how screens during real hacking don't necessarily have any motion, and static data display is boring on the big screen for any amount of time longer than a second ... add that to tiny text sizes that are unreadable at any reasonable filming distance, and you've got a pretty good argument for replacing it all with some flashing lights and colors."

Check out some of Tinseltown's most memorable hacker portrayals above.

[h/t: Visual News]

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By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
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History
Photo of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, Purchased for $10, Could Be Worth Millions
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Several years ago, Randy Guijarro paid $2 for a few old photographs he found in an antiques shop in Fresno, California. In 2015, it was determined that one of those photos—said to be the second verified picture ever found of Billy the Kid—could fetch the lucky thrifter as much as $5 million. That story now sounds familiar to Frank Abrams, a lawyer from North Carolina who purchased his own photo of the legendary outlaw at a flea market in 2011. It turns out that the tintype, which he paid $10 for, is thought to be an image of Billy and Pat Garrett (the sheriff who would eventually kill him) taken in 1880. Like Guijarro’s find, experts say Abrams’s photo could be worth millions.

The discovery is as much a surprise to Abrams as anyone. As The New York Times reports, what drew Abrams to the photo was the fact that it was a tintype, a metal photographic image that was popular in the Wild West. Abrams didn’t recognize any of the men in the image, but he liked it and hung it on a wall in his home, which is where it was when an Airbnb guest joked that it might be a photo of Jesse James. He wasn’t too far off.

Using Google as his main research tool, Abrams attempted to find out if there was any famous face in that photo, and quickly realized that it was Pat Garrett. According to The New York Times:

Then, Mr. Abrams began to wonder about the man in the back with the prominent Adam’s apple. He eventually showed the tintype to Robert Stahl, a retired professor at Arizona State University and an expert on Billy the Kid.

Mr. Stahl encouraged Mr. Abrams to show the image to experts.

William Dunniway, a tintype expert, said the photograph was almost certainly taken between 1875 and 1880. “Everything matches: the plate, the clothing, the firearm,” he said in a phone interview. Mr. Dunniway worked with a forensics expert, Kent Gibson, to conclude that Billy the Kid and Mr. Garrett were indeed pictured.

Abrams, who is a criminal defense lawyer, described the process of investigating the history of the photo as akin to “taking on the biggest case you could ever imagine.” And while he’s thrilled that his epic flea market find could produce a major monetary windfall, don’t expect to see the image hitting the auction block any time soon. 

"Other people, they want to speculate from here to kingdom come,” Abrams told The New York Times of how much the photo, which he has not yet had valuated, might be worth. “I don’t know what it’s worth. I love history. It’s a privilege to have something like this.”

[h/t: The New York Times]

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