This Decade’s Top 5 Tech Flicks for Your Holiday Downtime

December 17, 2019 / General

As we head into the holidays and a new decade, you may find that you’ve finally got some time to wind down at home as you use up the remainder of this year’s vacation days. And even if you’re stuck in the office keeping the network up and running, it’s a quiet time of year that might warrant a long lunch to watch Netflix on your laptop.

While many of us will opt to relax and enjoy classic holiday movies like It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas or my personal favorite, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, those of us who consider ourselves a bit on the “tech geek” side of things might prefer a little something more technology related. There have been dozens of films over the years that depict technology – think A Space Odyssey from 1968 or The Matrix from 1999 – but with 2020 knocking at our door, we thought we’d pick our top 5 tech movies from this past decade to watch this holiday season. And we’ve added a little critique to boot.

The Hummingbird Project (2018)

Loosely based on Spread Networks’ 827-mile fiber cable run from Chicago Mercantile Exchange to the NASDAQ data center in Carteret, New Jersey built to reduce stock exchange data transmission by just a few milliseconds, The Hummingbird Project is our top pick as this decade’s best tech movie for the fiber cable enthusiast. In this cinematic adaptation of the story, the fiber run is a bit longer at 1000 miles and runs from Kansas City to New Jersey with the goal of reducing latency to 15 milliseconds – roughly the time it takes for a hummingbird’s wings to beat just once (hence the name).

Like most tech films, this one is by no means 100% technically accurate, especially since a straight fiber line from Kansas City to New York doesn’t exist, and even if it did, experts say it would have a speed closer to 45 milliseconds using the very best technology. While the film gets a little bogged down in the details and somewhat dull in the second half, it is about as good as a movie on high-speed fiber cabling can get.

But what made it hit home for us is the fact that The Hummingbird Project features Belden fiber solutions, including their FiberExpress Fusion product line seen clearly in the film’s trailer on YouTube. In fact, Belden wrote a blog about their involvement in reviewing the script and educating the set director and film crew.  Too bad the film’s characters weren’t shown using their OptiFiber® Pro!

Ex Machina (2014)

While more exciting to watch than The Hummingbird Project (and way more farfetched), beware of watching this one with the kids. Pinged as a computer-science-philosophy-horror film, Ex Machina involves a young programmer who wins a chance to meet the CEO of his Google-esque company only to find himself wrapped up in a romantic, turned-deadly relationship with a humanoid robot powered by AI. With all the talk lately surrounding the development of AI, this film definitely has the potential to raise your level of tech anxiety.

The Imitation Game (2014)

While not about technology as we know it today, this historical film follows the true story of Alan Turing in his codebreaking quest to build a machine that could beat the German Enigma machine, an encryption device used extensively by Nazi Germany during World War II. Turing who is considered of the grandfathers of AI and modern computer science shows us the early realization that machines can do it faster. If you haven’t seen it, The Imitation Game is a great story with a great cast – well worth 114 minutes of your holiday downtime.

Her (2013)

Another film involving a human relationship with technology, Her is far more light hearted than Ex Machina with a silly, if not somewhat ridiculous, point of view. Nominated for best picture due to some quality acting, the film recounts the story of greeting card writer Theodore (portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with his new operating system (with the voice of Scarlett Johansson). If you’re a softie, Theodore’s bond with the operating system in this film might bring a tear to your eye. But it’s not quite as sad as having had an unfortunate encounter with the 2007 Windows Vista operating system…

The Social Network (2010)

If you haven’t had the opportunity yet to see this Oscar-winning film depicting the story of Facebook’s origin, this might be the season. While Zuckerberg and others have deemed The Social Network historically inaccurate, this one definitely hits home given the current concerns surrounding cybersecurity and the fact that Zuckerberg himself sat before the Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees eight years after the film’s debut to answer questions over Facebook’s data sharing scandal. But be warned, this one might have you deleting your account and upsetting Aunt Margaret who finally jumped on Facebook at age 75 just to connect with family during the holidays.

Enjoy your downtime and Happy Holidays from all of us at Fluke Networks!