Stupid Geek Tricks: Convince Your Friends You’re a Hollywood-Style Hacker with These Tools

Hacking in the movies is crazy exciting: fingers fly across the keyboard, and the screen is an ever flashing array of cryptic characters. It’s all so…interesting. Real hacking, sadly, isn’t that intense. However illegal what you’re doing may be, you’re still just someone sitting at a computer. Most the time you’re just trying to get people to use a fake Google sign-in page.

You’ll never be a Hollywood hacker, sadly, but you can convince you friends that you are—especially if they’re not tech savvy. Here are four hilarious tools for doing just that, offering all the on-screen gibberish and excitement movies and TV have programmed you to expect.

No More Secrets: Decryption Effect From Sneakers (macOS, Linux)

Let’s start in 1992 with Sneakers, a Robert Redford movie that featured all kinds of visual gobblygook. One highlight: on-screen “decryption,” where random characters flashed to reveal an actual message.

You can bring this ridiculous effect to your macOS or Linux Terminal with No More Secrets. Just pipe the output of any program to nms and watch the show. For example, here’s me using ls | nms to see the contents of a folder.

It’s stupid. Stupidly awesome, that is. You can do this with any command that outputs text: just follow your usual command with | nms and the show will begin.

How to install this wonder? On macOS it’s easy, assuming you’ve set up Homebrew. Just type brew install no-more-secrets in the Terminal and hit enter; you’ll be “decrypting” in no time.

Linux users will have to do a bit more work: Ubuntu doesn’t offer No More Secrets. You can follow the official instructions to compile the program. Alternatively it is offered in the GetDeb repository, so check that out if you’d rather stick to your package manager….or just skip to the next option, which is an Ubuntu exclusive.

Hollywood Technical Melodrama (Linux)

Flashy decryption is fun, but it’s not everything. Hollywood Technical Melodrama offers way more visual clutter, with multiple boxes doing all sorts of technical-seeming things. I mean, look at this:

The music wasn’t added to the video, by the way: this command really does play the Mission Impossible theme when you launch the program. It’s amazing. Set your Terminal to full screen and enjoy.

Installing this is easy on Ubuntu: just type sudo apt install hollywood and you should be good to go. Users of other distributions should search their package manager.

Hacker Typer: Smash Your Keyboard, See Convincing Hacker Text (Web)

Terminal apps are great and all, but some of us want to pretend to be hackers without having to, like, learn the command line and stuff. And that’s fine: just head to HackerTyper.com and start mashing the keyboard. A convincing stream of hackerish gibberish will show up with every keystroke.

It doesn’t matter what you type: appropriate text will show up. Set your browser to full screen and type furiously while a friend is watching, occasionally grunting about firewalls. They’re sure to be impressed.

If green text isn’t enough, scp is an interesting option. There’s a CIA-esque wallpaper, proving that clearly you’re up to no good.

And you can use the scroll wheel to adjust the typing speed, potentially making you look even cooler than you previously thought possible.

For even more choices, head to Geektyper.com: there’s a bunch more there, so start mashing your keyboard.

Fake Update: Convince Your Boss That Computer is Updating (Web)

This one doesn’t quite fit, except in spirit. Fake Update lets you make any computer look like it’s updating. Just head to the website and pick your operating system. Set the browser to full screen and you’ve got a very convincing looking update screen, giving you the perfect excuse to take an extended break.

Use this power responsibly. Or don’t. I can’t tell you what to do.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Justin Pot is a staff writer for How-To Geek, and a technology enthusiast who lives in Hillsboro, Oregon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, if you want. You don't have to.