On high-tech thrillers and story telling

I have finished going trough my third Dan Brown novel , i was curious about these “high-tech thrillers” he is supposed to write , and what can i say , they are not plain , prety documented and mostly entertaining , but i am not sure Dan Brown is a writer , or at best that he has any grip with technology.

There is something about the story telling of Umberto Eco , Jules Verne , Stephen King etc. that leaves no room for doubt in the reader that they are good writers , they do not only have good ideas and vast research , but they also know how to tell a story , and i am not sure Dan Brown knows that.

One might say that the storytelling suffers from the technical nature of these high-tech novels , well i will go on exposing serious flaws in that technical side too.

The amount of misinterpretation , distortion and exaggeration of the high-tech side of these books would without a doubt offend and scandalise any techie or geek that actually has a idea or two about high-tech things , but the problem is that i think it will be a bit disturbing to any cultivated person too , and most certainly will induce gross misconceptions about technical issues.

For example at some point a program written in a given programming language is runned , and while it is running a personage needs to recall some syntax of that programming language in order to give some runtime commands to the program in that language. Well anyone with the least idea about what a programming language is knows that one writes the code of the program in a given programming language , any input the program will get at runtime will be nothing more than strings precompiled into the program , it is unthinkable to think the strings inputed at runtime would be in the syntax of the language the program is written in , only shell scripting comes close to that , and that is only when in the shell , hence while running the shell , not another program.

Further down the book , it is told about a file entering a bruteforce decryption cpu grid , and propagating from there into a databank , the firewall of the grid being named as the only protection, implying that what goes in the grid has a direct and unrestricted link to the databank .
Well a databank and a cpu grid can not have a single entry point hence something passing the firewall of the grid infecting the databank , because some processors and some hard disks , serving entirely different purposes and users, would not be parts of the same system , instead two autonomous systems , and the communications between such systems is done trough a network , a network with multiple entry points and firewalls.
It is unthinkable that a general purpose databank and the cryptoanalysts code breaking grid would be two parts of the same system , a system that , for example if the cryptoanalysts would crash , would be unable to serve any of the databank users , and all this in the most critical and advanced informatics system in America.

Even nontechnical things that are almost common sense are grosly missplaced in some places , for example it is told about a access stairway to the internals of a mainframe hall , and it is told about a body that falls from it into such a internal part hence shorting it out , and even more further down the functionality is restored just by removing the body from it. Now , who in the world would think that the internals of a multimillion high-tech equipment would be left exposed under a access stairway from which anything from dirt to accessories (and humans) can fall ?

And the examples could go on and on , especially in the book Digital Fortress that i just finished reading , and from which the above examples are all extracted.

Is is just the fault of the lack of the understanding from the author’s side ?
Is it really not a big deal that people will take such ravings for a fact ?
Is it normal for a high-tech novel to be like this , and does this not affect its quality ?

The quirks and taboo’s of modern english

It is some time now since english has became my secondary language given my computer interests (kids, in the past there were only english versions of operating systems) , and technical things like RFC’s are better understood in their original language , still every now and then i can not feel entertained or puzzled by the english semantics , especially the roots of the words.

Let us take slang or vulgar words for example first , as i have learnt from http://tinyurl.com/hd5r, the most common vulgar words are just the old Anglo-Saxon words , while the French or Latin derived words describing the same thing are perfectly acceptable , and that is just a side effect of the conquest of England by Romans and then the French each of the conquerors having enforced their own language and vulgarised/tabooed the native one.

Another interesting fact about the english language is the lack of a specialised word to describe freedom , as in unconstrainment or unimprisonment , free , a term describing the lack of charge or fee for something being used to fill both roles , when : gratuit (French) , gratuito (Italian) , gratis (Spanish) (etc http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Free ) means free of charge and : libre (French) , libero (Italian) , libre (Spanish) , means unconstrained , unimprisoned , and paradoxically the english word : liberate means to free .

Also i have recently heard a american speaking about something and he used inches to define the size of a bigger thing and centimeters to define the size of a smaller one , now imagine my surprise as a person used to the metric measuring system , to hear someone use the inch system for measuring a big thing but unable to use a smaller division of it for measuring a smaller thing and have to fall back to the metric system for that , no wonder USA is the only country left that has not yet switched to the metric system.

And finally the most entertaining things to me are the many words created just by merging two words into one like : teapot , pancake , shotgun , landmark etc. and while creating words this way is practical it is nevertheless funny and unimaginative but i have to give special recognition to : alimony , layabout , doubleback , flabbergast , hehe.