Open Source v. Hollywood

Open Source v. Hollywood

Me and a few geeks were out and about discussing the things that matter in life.  While we were on the topic of Hollywood and movies, I made mention of the overwhelming success of Avatar.  With that point on the table, we all came to the conclusion that, Hollywood is a force to be reckoned with when getting a point across to the masses.

I also pointed out that, a certain level of geekness is lacking in Hollywood and, wherever computers are made mention of in a movie, they normally focus more on the brand of the hardware, rather than the software that is currently being used on the screen.  And, that whenever a screen is shown, you either see an insignificant makeshift GUI or terminal, as is in the case of Hackers, Swordfish, Eagle Eye, The Jason Bourne Series and Transformers, just to name a few, or, a blue, green and red taskbar which, advertently, turns out to be Windows XP, or, on a lesser extent, some more mature colours, which turn out to be Mac OS.   I blamed this merely on the fact that, whenever executive producers and production companies want to open their cash tills, the icon they normally click on is a Windows one.  We must neither rule out the fact that, Windows PCs are more common in households around the world and wherever PCs are accessible in public places.

It is quite a reality though, that it’s almost impossible to not recognize Mac, or other Apple hardware, whenever they are used in a movie, because of their design.  Such is the case in Obsessed, Wild Child, Iron Man, and other movies that show either a fashion designing, recording studio, or a video editing scene, where the brand of the particular computer/hardware being used is shown, being that Macs are more suitable for such purposes in real life.

On the ladder of support for proprietary software/hardware manufacturers, I put Apple/Mac first, being that Mac OS is descended from Darwin BSD, or evolved, for that matter.  I am also elated that Apple has taken the major step to start using Nvidia hardware.

Word to Hollywood: Linux is totally free which means you can never catch a lawsuit for making mention of it or using it for any purpose in a movie. The GNU GPL documents that contain the terms and conditions governing the use and distribution of the OS can easily be found on the internet using Google. Just type ‘Linux GNU GPL’ without the quotes.

.oO(I predict Bollywood will get there soon, if not already, for Linux is extremely popular in India.)

Any logical thinker would agree that, being that Hollywood has evolved to the stage where production companies will go the extra mile to make even a fiction movie seem as realistic as possible, as in the case of Avatar, Race To Witch Mountain, Star Trek (2009), The Mission Impossible series, and The Matrix, then the OS on the display screen of a computer in a movie should be equally as realistic as possible. Linux is your best bet without having to sign a contract, hire a trunk load of lawyers, or worry about catching a lawsuit after the project is completed and hits the theatres. I could bet my last quid, which is just about what I am down to at the moment, that, should the production company of Avatar use a realistic Linux interface in Avatar 2 it would gross something in the zone of the first one.

Another sad reality I unearthed was the fact that whenever the Linus Torvalds character is portrayed in a Hollywood movie he usually meets his sure demise at the business end of the pig stick, hence, solidifying the alleged Hollywood bias against Open Source Software. Proof is in Swordfish where the 'Linus Torvalds' character was depicted to be the world's most dangerous hacker; harassed at the point of entry; and eventually received the bullets of hired assassins through a one-way window, while he shows his own reflection the fingers through the same window, while he was being held for interrogation by the NSA.

My attitude might be a few light years away from skepticism, and, even more radically, pessimism, but I must add that the first time I saw that movie and witnessed that particular character in that particular scene my spidey senses told me I was not going to like him for three main reasons: 1. His attitude was on the opposite side of humble. No such person could have invented anything as catastrophic, and relevant for a person with such an attitude, as a heart attack. 2. He was smoking in what, one would logically predict, should be a no-smoking zone. (Not that I have any extreme feelings against smokers for some of the world’s greatest were smokers, Sir Winston Churchill for one, but what I am trying to clarify here is, even he would obey the no-smoking rules. And we are talking about a man here who’s got more ego than King Kong + Hulk + Godzilla.)(Pay attention to the plus signs.) This might be an abominable extension to his already abominable attitude but definitely not an extension to what real women would argue, matters most, when ‘it’ matters most, if you know what I mean. 3. I liked his coat. “Got Mink?” “Anyone?”

The trend continued in Punisher: War Zone where a particular individual who was nicknamed Microchip and held an ID with the name Linus, if my memory serves me correctly, whom, from time to time, assisted Frank Castle, was put down execution style with one shot to the cranium. In Breach, the veteran FBI agent who ordered the setup of Linux Servers, and spoke the geek lingo spectacularly well was charged with espionage. In real life, the character depicted in the movie is now doing twenty-three-hour lockdown in the pen. And the moral of the story is: all Linux lovers are evil people.

We must, however, make note of the fact that there are countless numbers of references to penguins in quite a number of movies but one is not given the least hint that these penguins are a Linux relic. Madagascar, Happy Feet and Farce Of The Penguins are a few of those movies. Jessica Alba made mention of the Gentoo’s monogamous nature in Good Luck Chuck and just as we were beginning to get the impression that we were finally about to get along with Hollywood we realized that Linux is descended from a UNIX OS family that was designed solely for multi-tasking purposes.

In my humble opinion aka IMHO, one of the very few movies that go closest to glorifying the magnificent versatility of Ubuntu/Linux is Gamer, starring Gerard Butler, a certified caveman such as yours truly. Despite the fact that the storyline did not hit with a bang of blockbuster proportions, I liked the scene where this Simon cat was on his couch, capable of seating half a dozen cheerleaders to keep his company, operating that multi-screen thingy. (You can’t quite refer to it as ‘a’ TV or computer monitor.) That GUI is definitely of Compiz origin. Sue me if I'm wrong. (“All I got is my word and my Ubuntu box as proof.”) The use of the word 'humanz' puts the icing on the cake being that the word 'Ubuntu' is an African word meaning 'human being'. The only thing more delicious than that is half a dozen gorgeous chicks wearing cheerleading outfits, or the new Star Trek outfits, your take, preferably mine, with a lil bit of hot sauce sprinkled all over them.

Die hard 4.0 showcased a gynarmous amount of computer hardware in it. The film itself is based on a ‘hackers’ I mean ‘crackers’ plot. The storyline is banging and once again the underdog hacker + the holier-than-thou-yet-clueless cop saved the world or America for that matter. .oO(A Star Wars fan in a geek world is so condescendingly old school.) It wouldn’t have to take John Lennon to admit that Maggie Q is just about one of the very few most gorgeous Asian chicks to ever grace the big screens. Plus the things that come out of her mouth. Her role in Deception proved that she has a sadistic way with words. (Someone once accused me of having a prejudicial taste for Asian porn but that’s a whole other story.) To top it off, that cop outfit she wore, in the former movie, had me convincing myself I was adversely perverted. She got beat up by Bruce Willis in a blockbuster fashion but he didn’t choke her, therefore, no sexual abuse. Call it domination if you will. Hooray for the hero! Besides, elevator cables wouldn’t quite count as ropes. Call me presumptuous but I know a chick that’s into S&M when my eyes behold her; it has something to do with a sixth sense. Logical analogy: her playing the bad girl in this film is really an oxymoron. To add excitement to enchantment and sentiment, I’m something of a ‘rude boy’ behind closed doors.

Back to the hacker. The screen he used to chat with the guys who hired him to do their dirty deeds had a little red devil on it. Could be FreeBSD but that fact wasn’t pronounced, plus Chuck is a bit more refined than that little guy. Down in the basement, where the server farm was situated, it was quite evident that only an OS relating to UNIX could handle this kind of hardware infrastructure: remote monitors, dumb terminals, etc, etc. The underdog hacker also had a bad ass Nokia smart phone. Kudos! It’s safe to refer to him as hacker here because he played the good guy. The term ‘white hat’ would be more appropriate.

In the final scenes of Kill Bill Vol. 2 David Carradine disclosed that Supreman was, in his humble opinion, judging from his gestures, the greatest superhero of all time. He argued that Superman was born as he is and didn’t have to go through an accidental phase to become who he is like Spiderman, Hulk and others did. This is not quite true for Hulk been that Bruce Banner was born with the ‘green genes’ and the humanitarian temper. I like him because he doesn’t need a weapon after he’s transformed. The only weapons he needs are his two hands, his temper combined with more provocation, anger and rage, and his environment. He went on to further expose that Clark Kent is actually Supreman’s alter ego and that Clark Kent is the ‘suit’ Superman wore to disguise who Superman is. Should one choose to contradict DC’s logic, he/she could argue that neither Spiderman, Hulk nor Superman has a kryptonite. While Superman possesses X-Ray vision, he can’t see through lead either. And voila! Behold the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It is with the mutual opposite of DC’s logic, and these two flaws, that I choose Batman as my greatest superhero of all time. I would give Hulk second place or probably put him in the front seat with Batman. Folks whom I am acquainted with would express shock that I didn’t choose Hulk as the greatest being that we possess similar traits but, being that I do not possess nazi tendencies, I will always leave the door open for criticism or change.

Here’s my logic. The greatest of anything in a group of things is the thing that is closest to the 100% mark on the greatness scale which they are judged. If Superman was 100% perfect, thus perfect, then he would possess lesser flaws than the other superheroes he’s being compared with. As his fans would or should already know, Spuerman’s cape is made from the cloth he was wrapped in as a baby. This other minor detail, or flaw, if you will, is giving Mystique mad credits, though she’s a villen, being that she takes the clothes of anyone she morphs into. (She takes role-playing to the ultimate level.) The argument supporting Superman gives us the impression that he was born with all he needs and would require 0% addition, outside of the womb, to complete his transformation from his alter ego, who is Clark Kent, to the superhero, who is Superman.

Should we put Batman under the microscope, or not, we would realize that Batman is 100% human who needs 100% gadgets and accessories to transform him into a superhero. Batman fights regular criminals, which exist in real life, as a regular human being, which exists in real life. He has archrivals that possess superhuman powers but he always fights them using his gadgets, acrobatic skills and his bat IQ. He lives among the bats but he himself has no evolved traits similar to them. His gadgets are rather designed with bat-dynamics or bat-o-dynamics. What I’m basically trying to say is, Batman is the best deal a man can get in real life, at your regular corner store, should one go out seeking someone to do some vigilante work for him. Give a top cop a rubber mask while you are at it. The Human Rights activists would beg to differ.

We didn’t take timeout to glorify Batman just to stray from the topic at hand. It’s rather time to bring one of Batman’s most annoying archrivals into the picture: The Penguin. Need I say more? I’m very much a fan of the original Batman animated series as I am of the movies. I’ve seen one of the animated series where The Penguin ravaged some bad guys, hence, giving Batman a break. When all is said and done though, he is still Batman’s enemy, thus giving penguins a bad rep. I wouldn’t encourage fans and Linux enthusiasts to hold their breaths and wait for the holders of the Batman franchise to turn The Penguin into a good guy.

They have a very nifty GPS system installed in the cars in The Fast And The Furious 4 aka Fast And Furious. The voice recognition and voice interactive automation were pretty cute, but, judging from what I’ve learnt from the behind the scenes footage, this system was still makeshift. I’ve actually operated Linux-powered GPS navigators before. If the production team wanted to appear legit to keen viewers, one would think the creative thing to do is use Linux-powered GPS navigators and improvise.

Hitman followed the plot of the videogame from which its storyline was adapted. It is one of those stories in which the hero that saves the day is actually a double-crossed bred assassin. He never actually saw the face(s) of his employer(s) but rather took orders from a laptop. I would describe the automated interactive system that gave the orders as hybrid being that it had that text-to-speech function. I am certain the production team of this movie could have created something similar utilizing the Ubuntu environment.

Bad Boys II: Cisco Systems call monitor software and Dell hardware. Chapter 13: Query = MySQL; Init, grep = Unix. Whoosah!

Extraordinary Measures: Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones) and Brendan Fraser (The Mummy); kids suffering from Pompe disease; John Crowley’s kids suffering from Pompe disease; John Crowley quitted his job to hunt down a cure; scientists working on the cure running out of funds hence, hitting a snag; kids suffering from Pompe disease favourite animal is the penguin; a toy penguin in one of the kids’ room resembles the clone of Tux; sick kids discussing gruesome things happening to penguins. Among the hardware the scientists used while working on a cure for the disease were Dell, HP, and IBM. The scientists finally made a breakthrough in the end. This is clearly a humanitarian movie which glorifies a number of beautiful entities.

Die Another Day created a mirage in our minds that James Bond was Linux-friendly when he and Jinx met at the Icarus demonstration in Iceland and she asked him if he was there for the penguins this time or for the view again.

Tomorrow Never Dies was more definitive when, the psycho maniac media mogul asked one of his top associates if ‘the software’ was ready for release. The associate replied yes, and, as requested, he had made it full of bugs, which means users will be forced to upgrade till eternity. Ahem! .oO(It takes the 007 family to pull that one off. Whomever said there was no light at the end of the tunnel.) While we are on the topic of James Bond I would love to see Moneypenny use to type 007's memos.

Wouldn't it be beautiful if the machines they used the h4x0r The Matrix were Linux-powered?

We must also make note that Dell is an ardent supporter of Ubuntu/Linux: Dellbuntu, so whenever the Dell brand is displayed in a movie, kudos must be given to Hollywood. Some other companies that have earned the right to dance over the ‘fire of brethrens’ are Intel aka I have no other choice but to support Open Source, Hewlett Packard (who now owns Comapq or something to that effect), Cisco Systems: father of Linksys, IBM aka ‘Built Dinosaur Tough’ (though Lenovo ain’t Thinkpad no more), Sun Microsystems: developer of (nuff said), Nvidia aka My pipe is bigger than yours... .oO(think I should have mentioned this one first.), Google (Their search engine has an open source feel. LMAO!), Hauppauge aka Rolls Royce, Bugatti and Ferrari’s got company, and Nokia whose n900 model runs Maemo which is actually ‘Debian Lite’ running the Matchbox window manager. (All hail the Finns I guess.) .oO(Would love to see them throw VLC Media Player on that beast though.) Just a thought.

A good friend of mine suggested that I should have included Microsoft on this list because their Natural Keyboard Pro works quite well on my Ubuntu box. I immediately chained myself to a tree and shouted, “Not until I come across one with a penguin sticker on the back!”

Note: Ubuntu utilizes the Debian packaging system which I do adore with utmost humility. I myself am a front seat passenger on the Debian train and I have proof that I am not alone. Knoppix and Linux Mint are two other Linux distributions that have my back on this one. I will not hesitate to incessantly describe the Debian packaging system as the ‘cleanest, leanest, meanest of ‘em all.’

Intermission: I got homework for the newbies. Run over to your favorite computer store and check the packaging of all the hardware on the shelves. Make a note of the brands with penguins on them. Stop by your local sports store on your way home to pick up a pair of pom-poms. Keep them by your side on your couch whenever you watch a movie. If you see any of those particular brands you made note of being displayed or used by anyone in the movie then grab your pom-poms and get your cheer on. Wash, rinse and repeat for each movie.

After all the flawed discoveries and criticisms, I went on to suggest a movie idea that would suit the Ubuntu/Open Source Software Community well. And it goes like this:

I would play a Jewish student, wearing Harry Potter-type telescopic lenses, who is currently studying Computer Sciences at UCLA. Megan Fox would play a gorgeous blonde French intern who works for a very prosperous pub franchise and was relocated to a branch close to the same college so that she could do her part-time studies there.

We never actually met though but one day, on my down time, I would wander off campus and head out for a stroll and stumble upon this very attractive establishment. I would enter through the revolving door and there she was in this peaceful, semi-lit atmosphere. She would be wearing knee-high leather velvet boots with Amerindian patterns on them, short designer jeans skirt and a very closely fitted top that epitomizes the college student persona. She would be leaning on the counter so that you could notice a cute little penguin tattooed on her right lower back, just above her skirt waist. This gesture would eventually give the viewers the impression that the theme of the movie and, eventually, the producers of the movie were Linux compatible.

The plot thickens.

Not being in the room for more than half a minute it would be very difficult not to notice the vintage jukebox in the far corner with a very well lit display area. Upon approaching the machine I realized that only the design of the machine is vintage but the display is rather a LCD screen with a Ubuntu interface. The Megan Fox character would walk up behind me at that very moment and assured, “You can put a dime in my Ubuntu Box if you like.” My character would ask, “Why would I wanna put ‘my’ dime in ‘your’ Ubuntu Box?” Her character would reply, “I am well aware that quite a few guys would love to do such a thing but upon your entry through the front door I figured you would be the perfect candidate.”

and we went on to live happily ever after in the final chapter.