Ariel Waldman contributes Movie Gadget Friday, where she highlights the lovable and lame gadgets from the world of cinema.


We last left off on the cyberpunk streets of LA in Strange Days. This week, in honor of the loss of the man behind so many 1980's icons, Movie Gadget Friday is paying homage to filmmaker John Hughes with a look into the 1985 cult-classic Weird Science. Tapping into the geek-fiction fantasies of most tinkering teenagers, real-life gadget specs are stretched to surreal capabilities to create the ultimate female bombshell. It's without surprise that the character's name, Lisa, was inspired by the Apple Lisa, Apple's first GUI computer.



AI Feed Scanner

Optimized for visual perception and decision-making, this artificial intelligence feed scanner is capable of discerning what different types of matchmaking data you want to focus on from scanning photos. Photos of Einstein will alert the connected computer to concentrate on neural input while photos from Playboy toggle focus onto body part assimilation, using three-dimensional analysis of tissue, scaling and structure. The intelligence precision comes in handy for heterosexual males when scanning in David Lee Roth for personality and not physical features. While the software maintains a high level of intellect, the hardware itself is less than insightful. With over 30 check-engine-type lights that flicker around aimlessly to display the action of data being analyzed and a variety of similarly useless buttons to push, we're unsure if the artificial intelligence this gadget exhibits is much more than that of a Magic 8 Ball.



Memotech MTX512 with FDX add-on


With its British-engineering and pricey-but-perfect FDX add-on for your 5.25" floppy disk needs, this microcomputer has a lot up its sleeve. Black aluminum casing ensures that attempts to turn off the computer using a baseball bat will be thwarted, as well as adds a refined touch to its raw data-crunching power. By connecting to an AI feed scanner, MTX512 takes over where the scan analysis leaves off, translating neural and physical input data into DNA code formation. From running .sim files and futuristic visualizations using an advanced video board to harnessing enough computing and electrical power to create human clones, Memotech MTX512 packs a punch that other personal computers will surely try to catch up with for decades to come.

If you have the time, the Zilog Z80 8-bit microprocessor is susceptible to some great hacks. Some simple electrical wiring from the CPU hooked up to a barbie doll enables the data-to-DNA transfer to begin. Once in place, hitting Enter should do the rest, transforming the barbie doll into your rockin' hot girlfriend, per your input specifications. Hackers may not want to try this at home, though, as the processing power needed to run this program typically results in electrical and washing machine explosions for a few blocks in all directions. Though impressive on its own, we've heard reports of needing to hack into the Pentagon to increase intellectual bandwidth if you want your creation to stand a fighting chance on Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?.



Crypto-Smasher V3.10

Crypto-Smasher V3.10 is a great application for those who want to crack into the Pentagon's mainframe. By establishing parity frequency responses with the government, the app leads you through a series of virtual pentagon-shaped corridors and gates, visualizing your many command-line entries as a maze. Feature specs include entry mode search, memory sector selector, encoding command shell scripts, and access to up-to 3000 Mbytes. Beware of coming across skull and crossbones in the visualization, as this typically alerts the Pentagon of your unauthorized presence in their system and prompts security personnel to manually type in ACCESS DENIED as a warning. Technologically, we still have some questions left unanswered; like how the software manages to overcome the technical limitations of an acoustic coupler modem to hack into military computer systems.


Ariel Waldman is a digital anthropologist and the founder of Spacehack.org, a directory of ways to participate in space exploration.

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Movie Gadget Friday: Weird Science