Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
It’s a rare movie that has no plot holes at all. Even movies nearly everyone likes, like Star Wars (I speak of Episode IV, in case that’s unclear), are occasionally rife with them. Of course, for many geeks — myself included — part of the fun of seeing a movie is identifying and discussing its plot holes afterward.
Here, then, are ten plot holes from geeky movies that, in my judgment, are ones that are easy to miss — even though some of them seem pretty obvious once you think about them. Please feel free to add your own favorite plot holes in the comments, and check out the first and second lists of plot holes (AKA “unanswered questions”) we’ve published on GeekDad before. (Note: The list below contains spoilers for the movies listed, out of necessity.)
10. The Matrix - The machines are keeping humans alive for their body heat, right? But they also have nuclear fusion reactors, and (while I haven’t run the numbers) I’d be willing to bet that a single fusion reactor would generate more net energy in an hour than all the humans on today’s Earth would in a day. Plus, fusion reactors are considerably less likely to try to escape, so it’s pretty clear the only reason the humans are still around is so the movie can exist. Oh, and while we’re at it, how come the simulated world everyone’s living in still has computers? Wouldn’t it be much smarter to remove the computers, thus significantly reducing the likelihood of someone like Neo making an appearance?
9. Jurassic Park – The scientists clone dinosaurs from the DNA in the blood in a preserved prehistoric mosquito. The problem is that blood cells in many animals (humans included) don’t carry DNA, and when they do they don’t carry nearly enough that the frog DNA they use to fill in the gaps wouldn’t dominate the bits of dinosaur DNA. Plus, of course, they would have no way to determine which DNA strands came from which dinosaur — and which from the mosquito itself!
8. Spider-Man 2 - Doctor Octavius is trying to find Spider-Man, and Harry suggests he talk to his good buddy Peter Parker, because Pete is always taking photos of Spider-Man. Doc Ock promptly finds Peter and Mary Jane at a coffee shop, and introduces himself by throwing a car at them through the window, which would certainly have killed them if Peter hadn’t been Spider-Man, sensed the danger, and pulled himself and MJ to the floor. But Doc Ock has no idea that Peter is Spider-Man, so why would he try to kill the person he wants help from?
7. Superman & Superman II – It’s just astonishing how Superman conveniently acquires new powers whenever his already-impressive selection of powers is inadequate to the task. In the first film, Lois Lane dies in the massive earthquake caused by the nuclear missile hitting the San Andreas fault. Superman, understandably distraught, suddenly and miraculously not only has the ability to turn back time by flying around the Earth really fast a lot of times, but somehow knows that he has that ability, despite it never having been mentioned previously. Then, at the end of the second film, the same thing happens again — only this time it’s an amnesia kiss. How exactly is he supposed to be able to remove the memory that Clark Kent is Superman, while leaving other memories intact? It’s never explained at all.
6. Star Trek II & Star Trek III - At the end of STII, the Genesis device creates a planet out of the Mutara nebula and the USS Reliant, right? And that’s fine as far as it goes, because scientists do in fact think that planets form out of nebulae. There’s just one tiny little question, though: Where did the sun for the planet to orbit come from? It sure wasn’t there before the device detonated, and if the device could create a star from a nebula, you’d think Carol Marcus would’ve mentioned it.
5. Batman Begins – Ra’s al Ghul (AKA Ducard) and the Scarecrow use the microwave emitter they stole from Wayne Enterprises to vaporize all the water in Gotham City, thus making people inhale the toxin contained therein. A creative idea, to be sure, except that human beings are 60-75% water (depending on age and other factors). So everybody in Gotham should be boiled to death in their own tissues.
4. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith – The final, climactic battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin rages all over and around the river of lava on Mustafar. Then it ends when Obi-Wan leaps onto the bank and tells Anakin he’s lost because Obi-Wan has the high ground. He turns out to be right, as Anakin leaps into Obi-Wans flashing lightsaber. Seriously, though, how does being on high ground matter when you’re both wizards who can levitate objects with your minds, leap incredibly high, and move astonishingly fast?
3. The Princess Bride – When the Brute Squad is cleaning up the Thieves’ Forest, Fezzik finds Inigo and nurses him back to sobriety. He tells him about Vizzini’s death and, more importantly, about “the existence of Count Rugen, the six-fingered man.” That’s great, except… how does Fezzik know Rugen is the six-fingered man? We see Westley notice Rugen’s extra digit, but he’s knocked out and taken directly to the Pit of Despair, so he clearly had no chance to tell Fezzik. And even if Fezzik had seen Rugen, is it really likely he’d have noticed? Fezzik isn’t that bright or that observant. (Incidentally, I looked this bit up in the book, and it doesn’t explain how Fezzik knew, either.)
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - This is a problem in the book as well, but it’s in the movie so it counts. Barty Crouch, Jr., disguised as Mad-Eye Moody, arranges for the Triwizard Cup to be a portkey to take Harry to the graveyard in Little Hangleton so that he can be used to bring Voldemort back to life and then killed. He’s in the guise of a teacher at the school, so he had any number of opportunities to make a portkey out of, well, pretty much anything that he could be sure Harry would touch — Harry’s schoolbooks, his shoes, whatever. It’s been argued that Voldemort wanted to keep his existence a secret and make it look like Harry perished during the task, but really, having Harry just disappear without a trace wouldn’t be any more suspicious. And, incidentally, why did he make the cup a two-way portkey? It’s been established that most portkeys are one-use, one-way only. Why not make this portkey one of those, so that Harry had no way to escape?
1. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back – Once Luke starts to figure out that the silly-acting, funny-looking little creature he’s with is in fact Yoda, Yoda’s mood changes. He criticizes Luke (legitimately, it must be said) and argues that Luke shouldn’t be trained to be a Jedi. Obi-Wan has to argue with him to get him to change his mind. Really, though, what choice does Yoda have? He either trains Luke or… what? The Empire wins? Good plan, Jedi Master.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Just got done doing a quick test of a new Android keyboard (for my phone) called 8pen. That isn't a typo...they have an 8 at the beginning of the word open.
It is a really cool concept. The keyboard is laid out in a X pattern, and you use circular motions to type. Note that I said it is a really cool concept...typing on this keyboard is INCREDIBLY slow. It took me almost 4 minutes to type a single tweet. That is too long. I am sure that over time, I will be faster on it, but it is such a difficult learning curve that I don't predict I will stay with it much longer.
Which brings me to the stock Android keyboard....It Sucks. With a capital S. I hate it. I have never had any success typing on it.
My first Android phone was a Motorola Backflip. I hope someone got fired over that abortion of a phone. It was awful. I sold it within a couple of weeks of getting it. It was so crippled, and the screen was tiny; it was terrible.
So, I upgraded to the Nexus One, which is truly an amazing phone. I love it...it does everything I need it to do...except type! I hate the keyboard more than anything. Google and Android, if you are listening, this is the one thing that Apple, hands down, does better than you. I can't tell you what a refreshing breath of air it is to type on my wife's iPhone 1G. It rarely lets a mistake through, and I rarely have to hit backspace.
On Android, I consistently have to backtrack to fix a mistake because the space bar is too small, or the autocorrect jacked with me for the umpteenth time.
I am sure this post will get plenty of response from my brother in law, the ultimate Apple Fanboy. I still love my phone...but I hope that the newer versions of Android will address this very glaring deficiency. I would use my phone a lot more if I could freaking type on it!
Monday, November 8, 2010
This past week, I was invited to speak at a conference for one of our software vendors at work. This is the first time I have ever been invited to speak "professionally", and it was an absolute blast. I am one of those people who seek out speaking type gigs, not shy away from them. If you give me a topic and put me on stage, I will speak about it. I love to be in front of people.
There were several other speakers at this conference, most of them were sales-type people presenting a demo of their particular product, but there was one in particular that really caught my eye. She was the founder of a consulting firm that studies our industry and is considered an expert in many different facets. Of course, I have very little doubt she is very good at her job. Companies pay her a lot of money to consult for them, and she does this well enough to make a pretty good living off of it.
But she was a terrible public speaker. Just awful.
She was awkward. She had terrible timing. Her strategy to "connect" with the audience was to use mid-90's vernacular, such as "totally rad" (and wasn't a bit tongue-in-cheek about it). I fully expected several Wayne's World references.
She was very animated, but it came off very forced. She tried to pry audience participation out of us, and only when someone felt so uncomfortable they would respond, would she move on to the next point. When she attempted to use humor, it only made it worse. At one point, she referenced "Bada Bing, Bada Boom" from the Sopranos (and every other Italian-American stereotype out there), but instead she said, "Bing Bang Boom", with no clue that she had mis-quoted it.
But this isn't the problem. My biggest problem is that she obviously thought she was the greatest public speaker out there of all time. You could really get the sense that she thought we were privileged to see her speak. It truly was painful. You could slice the tension with a knife in the room, because you could feel everyone feel sorry for her all at the same time. It was as if she went to a "public speaking for dummies" class and took every single tip and tried to cram them into a 45-minute session. To make matters worse, she went almost 20 minutes over her time, keeping everyone in the room from going to lunch.
I don't bring this up because I want to admonish her. She is actually pretty good at what she is paid to do...consult. She just needs someone to be truthful with her, but since she is the founder and CEO of the company, there is very little chance someone will say that to her.
If you are afraid to speak in public but have to, just be yourself. Don't try to do something outside of your comfort zone. Most people would rather listen to someone be a bit nervous than have a fake speech crammed down their throat. Have fun with it, and be yourself.