Ignorance is bliss...

Well, I was bored yesterday (not sure how I found the time to be bored) and watched a few episodes of Bones on Sky.

Now, I'm not an anthropologist or biologist or chemist, so generally the episodes are entertaining. But the last one was a murder case that was all about someone hand carrying a briefcase in to the US which ultimately had a USB stick in it. It was meant to be mere diamonds and the whole crux of the episode was that information is valuable. They even had someone using steganography (they even said the word).

The problem is, of course, I have some vague idea of information technology.

The whole point of steganography is that you cannot tell the hidden data is there and certainly can't just spot "this image file is way bigger than it should be" and press a few buttons to find some hidden data on the screen.

Of course there were days when information was hand carried in a brief case (though not on a USB stick), mainly by the likes of banks. This was for encryption or security codes before the use of public key encryption. There are also ways that memory cards can be used to covertly get information in/out of a building past security (I saw an impressive memory card inside a pound coin that you would not see on x-ray even, apparently).

But of course, these days, if you wanted to convey some information, you can do so by many means using simple public key encryption and the internet. No way someone would hand carry a USB stuck in a metal brief case handcuffed to your arm.

I suspect if I was an anthropologist or biologist or chemist I would probably cringe at every episode though....


  1. Bones is just silly fun. Nobody really believes that you can find a badly decomposed body, and within about 20 minutes have a 3D animated sequence of their life, have discovered their name, what the murder weapon was, who was likely to have done it and what their favourite colour was.

    Nobody has yet explained what a museum is doing investigating murders yet anyway...

    Expect about as much realism as in winnie the pooh.

  2. Fair enough... Its easier to ignore all that when it is something totally daft like Stargate...

  3. Like when they search for finger prints on CSI or NCIS you see all these non-matches flash up. Sadly, I bet people making the s/w for such things have an marketing pressure to have that sort of GUI effect and sound effect because users expect it having watched CSI or NCIS!

  4. What? Stargate isn't real?

  5. Technical inaccuracies I can let go, but what really gets up my goat is when people do ridiculously stupid things, just so that the plot works (and usually to increase the "excitement").
    Spooks is one of the worst, like the episode where an agent's girlfriend was trapped inside a house that they had made ultra-secure, so he could talk to her through the letter box but nothing else. She has a laptop that has a bomb in it (with the obligatory red 7-segment countdown!) and just sat next to it, waiting for it to go off, because she couldn't get out of the house.
    Why not put it in the bath, and get under a matress as far away from it as possible? Even if it didn't work, it would have given her a better chance than sitting next to it!

  6. Speaking as somebody who likes Bones (well, I liked the previous seasons, this one isn't shaping up well), but only as entertainment...

    Wasn't the point of the steganography that he could get information to his girlfriend? If so, he would actually want somebody with half a clue to realise that something was hidden? So the filesize would be obviously huge (say a gig or so) and the way the information was hidden follow some sort of standard protocol?

    As for why the museum is investigating murders... They aren't - The FBI is and they co-opt various staff from various departments. But also, the 'Jeffersonian' is based on the 'Smithsonian' which is a place of learning and just so happens to incorporate museums.

    Anyway, I agree, it's all total bull, but amusing bull nevertheless.

    If you like pseudo-sciency stuff, have a watch of 'Lie to me*' - much better than Bones.


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