XKCD: 1337

XKCD wins my eternal affection for referencing The Princess Bride in Part 5 of 1337.

Xkcd 1337 Part 5

The Nerd Handbook

Rands in Repose has a fantastic article that every lover of nerds should read. The Nerd Handbook is an eloquent statement about the inner workings of every nerd.

He sees the world as a system which, given enough time and effort, is completely knowable. This is a fragile illusion that your nerd has adopted, but it’s a pleasant one that gets your nerd through the day.

My quest for knowledge, actually to know everything, is an exhausting pursuit. In fact, I find it so exhausting that sometimes I am incapable of actually learning anything. Luckily this only happens in short phases.

Your nerd has control issues.

While I take issues with the particular examples illustrated here, in general, agreed.

Your nerd has built himself a cave.

Ah…The Cave. Oh how I love my cave. Actually, when I was in high school I moved from my perfectly normal bedroom into the barely finished basement room and began building my lair. My family affectionately referred to it as my cave.

Each object in the Cave has a particular place and purpose. Even the clutter is well designed. Don’t believe me? Grab that seemingly discarded Mac Mini which has been sitting on the floor for two months and hide it. You’ll have 10 minutes before he’ll come stomping out of the Cave — “Where’s the Mac?”

I have this ridiculous talent of “remembering” where things are placed in a room (especially one that I spend a lot of time in). This doesn’t actually have anything to do with the state of order or cleanliness of the place in question. I just know that things were moved.

A couple of years ago my apartment was broken into. Barely anything was stolen and very little even actually touched. The craziest part about the whole thing, was that I was able to walk through the entire house and point out everything single thing that the thief touched or looked through. I could tell which rooms he walked into, and which ones he didn’t. I was able to piece together the entire robbery.

He climbed in through the bedroom window. Rummaged through my girlfriend’s jewelry boxes and dresser, but did not take anything (apparently semi-precious stones weren’t important.) He moved my night-stand and bed slightly away from the wall in order to unplug and steal my alarm clock. I got it for $15 at K-Mart. He then proceeded directly through the dining room and into the living room. There was a lot stuff worth stealing in the dining room, but he never looked at that. In the living room he immediately went for the PS2. He tried taking the NES there but decided that it wasn’t worth it when he realized he would have to unscrew two coaxial cables to get it out. He looked at Tommy Boy, but then decided against stealing it. Super Mario Brothers 1 was fair game though. At this point some noise must have scared him because he tried to leave out the front door but then decided not to (he left the door unlocked). Instead he went out the backdoor, conveniently grabbing my backpack from the chair next to the door to stash his goods in. He never set foot into my office. I really lucked out in this regard, because all of my PS2 games were in that room (not with the actual PS2).

I was able to establish this entire story by simply looking around my apartment. I know when things are moved.

It’s another juicy cliché to say that nerds love video games, but that’s not what they love. A video game is just one more system where your nerd’s job is to figure out the rules that define it, which will enable him to beat it.

Don’t get me started on my obsessive need for creating perfection in RPG games.

Humor is an intellectual puzzle, “How can this particular set of esoteric trivia be constructed to maximize hilarity as quickly as possible?” Your nerd listens hard to recognize humor potential and when he hears it, he furiously scours his mind to find relevant content from his experience so he can get the funny out as quickly as possible.

Last week I was walking through the hallway of one of my friends house when her roommate jumped out of his bedroom and blocked my path. He demanded I pay a $1 toll to pass him. I racked my brain quickly trying to think of something witty to say. When nothing would come out, I sighed and gave him a dollar. I didn’t give him a dollar because I needed to, but because I deserved to lose that dollar for not being able to think of a single witty thing to say. I lost the game.

If you trip the irrelevance flag, look for verbal punctuation announcing his judgment of irrelevance. It’s the word your nerd says when he’s not listening and it’s always the same. My word is “Cool”, and when you hear “Cool”, I’m not listening.

I’m not actually sure what my word is, but I’m certain that I have one.

Small talk. Those first awkward five minutes when two people are forced to interact. Small talk is the bane of the nerd’s existence because small talk is a combination of aspects of the world that your nerd hates. When your nerd is staring at a stranger, all he’s thinking is, “I have no system for understanding this messy person in front of me”.

Not to mention the fact that small talk is actually by definition tripping the “irrelevance flag.”

You might’ve noticed your nerd’s strange relation to food. Does he eat fast? Like really fast?

This part just made me laugh. I eat incredibly fast.

Go read the whole article if you haven’t already. It’s well worth it.

Moleskine Drawing of a Warrior

I thought that this drawing from the Moleskine Project was fantastic:

A drawing of a Warrior from the Moleskin Project

Then I read that an eight-year-old did it. That must say something about my aesthetic.

Nerds Dating Nerds

There’s an interesting discussion over on Molly.com about technology nerds and Significant Others.

Personally, I’ve never dated a technology geek and I consider myself unlucky in this regard. But not having anything to compare dating a non-techie person to, I can’t say that dating a techie is better.

My favorite part of the article though is Gareth’s response:

Go with anyone who can cook! Professional skills a bonus. Let’s face it – food sorts out most problems.

Agreed. Go with the chef.

I’ve Found My Affliction: NADD

I’ve finally discovered the name of the disease that has been affecting my day to day life for years. There’s good news, I’m not alone. The bad news, as of now, there is no cure. It’s called Nerd Attention Deficiency Disorder (NADD).

For the official diagnosis, read the white papers. Skip the first three paragraphs, they’re not important.

Okay, here’s the first test:

Stop reading right now and take a look at your desktop. How many things are you doing right now in addition to reading this column?

Uh oh. Um, okay, here we go:

  1. Safari browser window with at least 5 tabs. These are open to the same sites that I always have open.
  2. Second Safari window with blog articles I’m currently reading. (The tabs on the first window started overflowing)
  3. Third Safari window full of links to Ruby sites.
  4. NetNewsWire.
  5. Terminal window.
  6. PDF version of Programming Ruby.
  7. Several Textmate windows. (Current blog posts, and several Ruby programs).
  8. iTunes.
  9. The Filter.
  10. Entourage.
  11. Apple Remote Desktop.
  12. WorkGroup Manager.
  13. Oh yeah, this post.

I’m starting to see a problem here. Moving on.

My mother first diagnosed me with NADD. It was the late 80s and she was bringing me dinner in my bedroom (nerd). I was merrily typing away to friends in some primitive chat room on my IBM XT (super nerd), listening to some music (probably Flock of Seagulls — nerd++), and watching Back to the Future with the sound off (neeeeerrrrrrrd). She commented, “How can you focus on anything with all this stuff going on?” I responded, “Mom, I can’t focus without all this noise.”

I can’t claim these specific nerdities, but I did definitely as a teenager rig up two TV’s in my room so that I could watch TV while I was leveling up my Final Fantasy party or practicing Tony Hawk so that I could later kick my friends butts.

The presence of NADD in your friends is equally detectable. Here’s a simple test. Ask to sit down at THEIR computer and start mucking with stuff on their desktop. Move an icon here… adjust a window size there. If your friend calmly watches as you tinker away, they’re probably NADD-free, for now. However, if your friend is anxiously rubbing their forehead and/or climbing out of their skin when you move that icon 12 PIXELS TO THE RIGHT, there’s NADD in the house. BACK AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER.

I’m thinking of you right now Bri. I think I will move your windows around while you’re at lunch. I won’t tell you, but you’ll know I did it immediately when you sit down at your computer.

NADD can advance your career… if you’re in the right career. Ever worked at a start-up? Ever shipped software? What are the last few weeks like? We call it the fire drill because everyone is running around like crazy people doing random, unexpected shit. NADD is the perfect disease for managing this situation. It develops the skills to sift through the colossal amount of useless noise and hear what’s relevant.

Yeah, I definitely make a living in computer support. On a daily basis, random people find it okay to dump their technological woes along with all of their life’s stresses on me in hopes that I will be able to fix their problem. It’s up to me to sift through the junk and try to find a solution…in a very short amount of time. ‘Nuff said.

I wonder if there is a support group.