24 Orly?: Things that Irritate a Geek

I really love the show 24. It definitely has its moments where you have deep thoughts about democracy and terrorism between Jack sniping terrorists or shooting his colleague in the neck. But for the life of me I just can’t bear some of the things they do to stretch my “suspension of disbelief” when it comes to all the nerdy stuff.


One of the things about 24 is half of the drama happens in the office while the other half is following Jack Bauer about town (usually LA). The office politics that go on in CTU look like they pulled plot lines from Dilbert. Aside from that, when U.S. government bureaucrats aren’t backstabbing each other computers feature real prominently in the series. But sometimes they go too far. Way too far.

Here are the things that irritate me or make me go “Orly?”

CTU Can do Anything via Internet

Literally “the world at your fingertips.” I’ve seen Chloe hack into the ventilation system, elevators, security cameras, and god knows what for the most obscure buildings in the city to remotely control them. They can track a car traveling at 100 mph on the highway via satellite, trace their path, and even take a high resolution picture of the driver. They can always hack into someone’s computer simply because they’re connected to the internet. Sometimes it gets so ridiculous that you’d have to be smoking crack to believe the stuff they do with those government computers.

It makes you wonder if Jack is even necessary considering the things they can do with a computer and an internet connection.

Terrorists Use PCs, Good Guys Use Macs

Every episode is literally plastered with the Apple logo, not that I’m complaining. It’s obvious that the show producers are serious mac fans and they’re using that hollywood-level budget to buy them. I’m sure I’m not the only one who started noticing more and more cinema displays as the seasons piled on. Still, it makes you wonder why all the terrorists use generic PCs. I don’t recall seeing many terrorists sporting macs either. I wonder if they’re running windows or an unix distro?

Hacking and Cracking Gone Wild

Chloe must have some secret knowledge of mathematics passed down from ancient Egyptians or something because I don’t know of an instance when Chloe and company couldn’t crack into something or decrypt a scrambled file. I mean she could be connected to the internet from a pay phone in China and still crack into the Pentagon’s LAN. You get to hear her say stuff like, “Jack, the file’s protected by 128-bit encryption, give me 30 minutes.” Jack’s typical response? “Chloe, I need it in 10.” I’ve even seen them reconstruct photos from shredded bits too. Wow.

That must be a scary world to live in. Sort of makes you wonder why people encrypt or hide anything on 24. Might as well as store all the information on clear files you can download freely from the internet or better yet write it out on paper because it’s way more secure.

Computer Jargon All Wrong

I’m not the only one noticing this. Pulling stuff out of and putting it into the subnet (whatever that is), set up a protocol aka video conference, VPN, binaries, sockets, or whatever. For all the ease they have cracking into someone’s home computer from remote locations it’s complicated as hell when they want to video conference with other people in the U.S. government or even accessing their own information.

Why is Jack Always on the Cell?

Seriously, get off the phone! Jack is always talking on the phone whether he’s shooting a terrorist, running away from a bomb explosion, or whatever. It’s the next thing you notice after his magical pouch. I’ve never seen the dude recharge his phone either. Looks like they got a hold of the iPhone prototype too considering all the things he can do with it. Jack can intercept any phone call, secure or otherwise, with the help of Chloe whether it’s the President or some terrorist too.

It makes you wonder.

Everyone in CTU is a Programmer

Everyone except Bill Buchanan of course. Everybody in CTU who aren’t field agents can code with the best of them. Even a lowly entry-level desk jockey can probably write a perl script to nuke all the hard drives in North America. Where do they find these people?

What’s even weirder is that even for monumental tasks like cracking a securely encrypted file they seem to write these programs from scratch in 30 minutes or less. I’ve never heard them talk about using APIs, existing libraries, or applications. It’s always “so and so is writing a program to do that”. Seeing how they rarely need to compile stuff they must be writing it in ruby, perl, or maybe even php.

As much as I love the series the writers and producers seriously need to stop pulling the computer terminology out of their butt cracks. With the millions of viewers in this high tech world I have a hard time thinking it doesn’t irritate more people.

I don’t know whether to feel sad for the people who might actually believe all the technology disinformation on 24 or myself for still enjoying the show. Rock on 24. Rock on.


blog.brettkelly.org » Computer-Related Jargon and Technical Implausibilities in Fox’s ‘24′

Drivl.com | What code DOESN’T do in real life (that it does in the movies)