Fans of Dr. Who might be disappointed to know that their hero isn’t actually parsing a screen full of code in the season seven episode “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.” Actually, what he’s looking at is an SVG file of a light wave from Wikipedia.
John Graham-Cumming, a programmer for CloudFlare, is uncovering Hollywood’s tomfoolery in his Tumblr Source Code in TV and Films. He started pointing out what the code in popular entertainment actually does on January 3 when he pointed out the code in the film Elysium was lifted from a version of the Intel Architecture Software Developer’s Manual and appropriated to reboot the space station.
The resulting hilarity via the laziness of producers and the industry’s basic assumption that viewers won’t actually care enough to fact check is priceless. Case in point: CSI:NY trying to pass two pages of HTML headers in a silly handwritten font as a hack to Gears of War.
The Tumblr isn’t long (yet), but it’s worth going through the five pages of archives for a giggle and, more productively, to see a discussion happening among bored programmers. If you’re time crunched, there’s a 10-question quiz based on posts from Graham-Cumming’s findings.
It’s amazing that “movie code” isn’t compete gibberish; we figured it would be generated by something like HackerTyper, where hitting any key generates bunk code in an aesthetically-convincing sandbox. (If you’re new to HackerTYper, try hitting the alt (option on a Mac) key three times and see what happens.)