Test your Nerd Knowledge — Feb 22, 2022

Here’s a review of this week’s questions:

  1. What was the name of the 1992 movie about computer hackers that starred Robert Redford and River Phoenix?
  2. What is the name of the technological development named after King Harald of Denmark?
  3. What is the name of the operation initiated by the FBI in 2007 to track down bot herders and virus coders?

And here are the answers:

  1. Answer: “Sneakers.” “Sneakers” was a moderate hit for Universal Studios, with huge stars and a premise that was years ahead of its time. Redford’s character was a hacker in 1969 who got caught and went on the run, changing his name and going semi-legit. The U.S. government strong-arms Redford’s Martin and his crew, including Dan Aykroyd, Sidney Poitier, Ben Kingsley, and River Phoenix, into recovering a “black box” that turns out to be computer hardware that accesses most of the world’s databases.
  2. Answer: Bluetooth. In December 1996, Intel’s Jim Kardach, who had read a book on Viking history, came up with a name for the technology he had developed that united PCs and cell phones. Kardach suggested the name “Bluetooth,” as a codename until the marketing group could come up with a formal technology name. King Harald Bluetooth, it seems, was famous for uniting Scandinavia, just as Intel intended to unite the PC and cellular industries with a short-range wireless link. The squiggle of shapes in the bright blue brandmark comes from the runes in the Roman alphabet representing “H” and “B.” In other words, they’re the initials for Harald Bluetooth.
  3. Answer: Operation Bot Roast. According to the FBI’s website, “hackers who install malicious software on computers through the Internet without the owners’ knowledge are known as ‘Bot Herders.’ Once the software is loaded, they can control the computer remotely. And once they’ve compromised enough computers, they have a robot network or botnet.” Operation Bot Roast was launched because the national security implications of the growing botnet threat were broad, and frankly, terrifying. The FBI’s efforts continue today, and they have successfully stopped scores of cyber-bad-guys.