Geek Checklist

The Geek Dad Blog at Wired has come up with a great list called 100 Essential Skills for Geeks (GeekDad Wayback Machine). Being the geek that I am, I thought I would see how I measured up against this awesome list of essential geek skills and see jsut how much geek cred I have. If you are normal (yes you S.) then some of this might seem strange, if you have some geekness or even a bit of nerdiness in you then you should feel right at home reading through this list.

  1. Properly secure a wireless router. WPA2-PSK with AES, everywhere, no exceptions. DD-WRT is a must as well.
  2. Crack the WEP key on a wireless router. Oh please, two minutes flat, not a problem.
  3. Leech Wifi from your neighbor. Been there done that. Thank you neighbors with a different ISP.
  4. Screw with Wifi leeches. Yes you will suffer indignity for not asking. You make it so easy when you run Windows XP unpatched.
  5. Setup and use a VPN. Everyday. Oh look, I’m in a tunnel right now.
  6. Work from home or a coffee shop as effectively as you do at the office. This is my mantra. Why are so many places so old school in their office environments? Probably because they hired crappy people and they don’t trust them. Good employees will get the job done no matter where they are.
  7. Wire your own home with Ethernet cable. Of course. Wifi just doesn’t cut it sometimes, especially some of the Faraday cages I’ve lived in.
  8. Turn a web camera into security camera. Yes I like to spy, especially on coworkers.
  9. Use your 3G phone as a Wi-Fi access point. Many times. Check.
  10. Understand what “There’s no Place Like 127.0.0.1” means. I like looping things back on myself.
  11. Identify key-loggers. What is this strange process that starts every time I boot? Why do I have this strange connection? etc …
  12. Properly connect a TV, Tivo, XBox, Wii, and Apple TV so they all work together with the one remote. Yes, and when you do it is a wonderful Harmony.
  13. Program a universal remote. Yes of course, but sometimes finding the codes can be a pain.
  14. Swap out the battery on your iPod/iPhone. Yes, but I cheated and used online tear down instructions.
  15. Benchmark Your Computer Constantly
  16. Identify all computer components on sight. Yes of course.
  17. Know which parts to order from NewEgg.com, and how to assemble them into a working PC. Done this a ton of times.
  18. Troubleshoot any computer/gadget problem, over the phone. Ever so painful, but I’ve had to do it several times. I don’t know how tech support people at hi-tech companies cope.
  19. Use any piece of technology intuitively, without instruction or prior knowledge. Hmm, I’m thinking yes unless it is like Stargate Ancient technology or something like that. Then I might be stumped.
  20. How to irrecoverably protect data. Usually DBAN but sometimes the drill press is necessary and ever so much fun.
  21. Recover data from a dead hard drive. Yes. Recovered a book for a professor, who seemed to think it was really not a big deal. I walked off without trying to explain to him that it took me over a hundred hours of work to recover the book he was writing. Did I get a mention in his book? Noooo. I’ve done it a few other times as well.
  22. Share a printer between a Mac and a PC on a network. pretty trivial really. As long as the printer talks TCP/IP. If it only wants AFP, well then it is a bit more fun.
  23. Install a Linux distribution. (Hint: Ubuntu 9.04 is easier than installing Windows)These days this is pretty much a no-brainer. Back in the version 1.2 days it was a lot more work to get it working. I remember the first time I heard sound, boy that was awesome.
  24. Remove a virus from a computer. Usually not much of a challenge but one in a while you get some really nasty piece of malware that just won’t go away. The Storm worm was pretty nasty back in the day. Sometimes you just get so pwned and rooted that you just have to format and start over.
  25. Dual (or more) boot a computer. I laughed when I saw this one. I have a single computer with at least 12 different OS’es on it right now.
  26. Boot a computer off a thumb drive. Puh…lease.
  27. >Boot a computer off a network drive. Seriously? Is this list supposed to be challenging?
  28. Replace or repair a laptop keyboard. Yes, not by choice. It was the easiest path to resolution. I know that see,s strange but it is a long story.
  29. Run more than two monitors on a single computer. I loves the screen real estate.
  30. Successfully disassemble and reassemble a laptop. Far too often in my lifetime.
  31. Know at least 10 software easter eggs off the top of your head. Not counting games this one I think I fail at.
  32. Bypass a computer password on all major operating systems. Windows, Mac, Linux This is far easier than people think. BIOS password, a bit more of a challenge, usually just adds a screw driver to the mix
  33. Carrying a computer cleaning arsenal on your USB drive. I didm’t use to do this but these days you realy have to. SO many people are part of a botnet or a zombied host and they don’t even know. Please stop using IE and Windows XP.
  34. Bypass content filters on public computers. SSH proxy.
  35. Protect your privacy when using a public computer. A browser with private mode and know how to clean up plugin cache.
  36. Surf the web anonymously from home. TOR or a VPN service.
  37. Buy a domain, configure bind, apache, MySQL, php, and WordPress without Googling a how-to. Where do you think yo uare reading this?
  38. Basic *nix command shell knowledge with the ability to edit and save a file with vi. I used to create and maintain my resume in VI.
  39. Create a web site using vi. Yup, sure thing.
  40. Transcode a DVD to play on a portable device. My 160 GB iPod is out of space. 🙂
  41. Hide a file in an image using steganography. Getting content and files in and out of freedom hostile countries like China makes this a necessary tool.
  42. Knowing the answer to life, the universe and everything. 42, but what is the question?
  43. Share a single keyboard and mouse between multiple computers without a KVM switch. Synergy, gotta have it.
  44. Google obscure facts in under 3 searches. Bonus point if you can use I Feel Lucky. I usually fail when I try to go the Lucky route. Otherwise it is rarely a problem.
  45. Build amazing structures with LEGO and invent a compelling back story for the creation. You are talking to the king baby! I even made a DNA double helix out of LEGO once. I think my dog destroyed it shortly thereafter. I cried a little, mostly because I did not want to clean it up.
  46. Understand that it is LEGO, not Lego, Legos, or Lego’s. You are also supposed to call them “bricks,” no one does. If I try to enforce this the normals look at me like I’m crazy so I avoid the conflict, but it is understood.
  47. Build a two story house out of LEGO, in monochrome, with a balcony. Full scale, no? Small scale, yes.
  48. Construct a costume for you or your kid out of scraps, duct tape, paper mâché, and imagination. Hmmm, this question might be a bit embarassing. I’m not into COSplay or anything but I haven’t done
  49. Be able to pick a lock. Success!
  50. Determine the combination of a Master combination padlock in under 10 minutes.I’ve tried and failed miserably. My combination-fu is low.
  51. Assemble IKEA furniture without looking at the instructions. Bonus point if you don’t have to backtrack. I think I must be a masochist because i actually really like doing this. It is like LEGO for Grownups.
  52. Use a digital SLR in full manual mode.Yes, but sometimes the pictures are all wrong and I have to adjust.
  53. Do cool things to Altoids tins. Mousetrap, and a ramp for hot wheels. Whee!
  54. Be able to construct paper craft versions of space ships. Utter and complete failure on this one.
  55. Origami! Bonus point for duct tape origami. (Ductigami) More failure.
  56. Fix anything with duct tape, chewing gum and wire. Much like knowing where your brown towel is when you travel through hyperspace, you really have to know where your roll of duct tape is at home.
  57. Knowing how to avoid being eaten by a grue. Walk into the light otherwise it’ll be gruesome.
  58. Know what a grue is. Silly monsters that live in the dark! Light is for kids.
  59. Understand where XYZZY came from, and have used it. I always thought it just meant no-op. Not sure though. Half point?
  60. Play any SNES game on your computer through an emulator. MAME forever.
  61. Burn the rope. I totally don’t get this one.
  62. Know the Konami code, and where to use it. Although I am a PC gaming snob I totally this one.
  63. Whistle, hum, or play on an iPhone, the Cantina song. I have had so many Cantina scene dreams it is scary.
  64. Learning to play the theme songs to the kids favorite TV shows. Not applicable, no points.
  65. Solve a Rubik’s Cube.It is a mighty epic struggle but I get the job done.
  66. Calculate THAC0. Of course. And I will break your sword.
  67. Know the difference between skills and traits. Oh man that takes me back.
  68. Explain special relativity in terms an eight-year-old can grasp. Mission accomplished. Do they still remember, I highly doubt it.
  69. Recite pi to 10 places or more. I did this just the other day. I scared my wife, and she asked, “What’s the point?”
  70. Be able to calculate tip and split the check, all in your head. Yes but I’m lazy and round heavily. Plus I’m a good tipper and you should be to. Don’t be cheap.
  71. Explain that the colours in a rainbow are roygbiv. It’s called a spectrum being refracted by moisture in the air.
  72. Understand the electromagnetic spectrum – xray, uv, visible, infrared, microwave, radio. Okay, strange one. Yes I understand it. Anything else?
  73. Know the difference between radiation and radioactive contamination.
  74. Understand basic electronics components like resistors, capacitors, inductors and transistors. I can tell you what everything is on a PCB.
  75. Solder a circuit while bottle feeding an infant. (lead free solder please.) Not applicable. No points.
  76. The meaning of technical acronyms. Yes, even TWAIN.
  77. The coffee dash, blindfolded (or blurry eyed). Coffee [cream] [sugar]. In under a minute. Not a big coffee drinker, so no.
  78. Build a fighting robot. No.
  79. Program a fighting robot. Negative.
  80. Build a failsafe into a fighting robot so it doesn’t kill you. Nope.
  81. Be able to trace the Fellowship’s journey on a map of Middle Earth. That maps is burned into my skull.
  82. Know all the names of the Dwarves in The Hobbit. Dwarves, probably not. Hobbits, most of them.
  83. Understand the difference between a comic book and a graphic novel. Yes of course.
  84. Know where your towel is and why it is important. I’m always prepared for hyperspace.
  85. Re-enact the parrot sketch. I actually have no idea what this one is.
  86. Know the words to The Lumberjack Song. Maybe the first verse. Half point?
  87. Reciting key scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Every time I try to talk to someone it’s “sorry this” and “forgive me that” and “I’m not worthy”…
  88. Be able to recite at least one Geek Movie word for word. Hmm… This would probably be either Star Trek IV or Empire Strikes Back.
  89. Know what the 8th Chevron does on a Stargate and how much power is required to get a lock. Make sure you have an Icarus planet.
  90. Be able to explain why it’s important that Han shot first. Greedo did not shoot first! George Lucas has betrayed us all.
  91. Know why it is just wrong for Luke and Leia to kiss. Ewww. Just gross.
  92. Stop talking Star Wars long enough to get laid. I even managed to get married.
  93. The ability to name actors, characters and plotlines from the majority of sci-fi movies produced since 1968. I can go back to Forbidden Planet. Pfft.
  94. Cite Mythbusters when debunking a myth or urban legend. Daily.
  95. Sleep with a Cricket bat next to your bed. Umm … what? You mean baseball?
  96. Have a documented plan on what to do during a zombie or robot uprising. Joed about it but never written anything down. Fail for this one.
  97. Identify evil alternate universe versions of friends, family, co-workers or self. He he yes and sometimes it is scary.
  98. Be able to convince TSA that the electronic parts you are carrying are really not a threat to passengers. Tried and failed on this one. Just put in the bag with a million other computer parts and the TSA won’t care.
  99. Talk about things that aren’t tech related. Yes but it is an effort. The wife’s eyes glaze over when I get techie on her.
  100. Get something on the front page of Digg. Yes, but that was like ten years ago when no one used Digg.

AC vs DC

The ultimate mad genius of all time was born today. What would our world be like if Edison hadn’t destroyed him? His under-recognized efforts surely would be recieved differently today. Happy Birthday Nikola Tesla (even if you have been dead for 67 years).

He was pretty amazing for his time.

The Kin is dead.

So Microsoft has killed off the Kin after only two months. This is only good news for rest of the smart phone marketplace. Kin was another amusingly dumb idea, totally over-marketed, with tons of astroturf hype, all to the wrong demographic. The Kin evolved out of the Microsoft purchase of Danger, the company who brought us the Danger. The Kin was a social media device first and foremost. Do people really want that sort of device. I think people want a mobile phone first still.

I saw Kin advertising everywhere. In the movie theater, TV, magazines, billboards, Hulu, and radio (okay I heard that one). It was an expensive marketing campaign. I really wanted to reach out and choke the marketing department and I never wanted to find out how what’s her name will stalk her Facebook friends using her Kin. The service plan costs as much as an iPhone. Microsoft was target young “hip” kinds with the device. But if you are young, unemployed or a student that is kind of expensive. Most experts place the number of units sold at less than 10,000.

Is this a case of an expensive project gone wrong? A corporate giant not having a clue about current consumer demand? Another crappy telco being overly greedy and suffering as a result? Well yes, all of the above. Microsoft spent hundreds of millions developing this product which was codenamed “pink” including generating Internet buzz. Microsoft clearly didn’t understand the market segment nor the consumer demand. Verizon, one of the evil telco companies (they are all evil) thought, “Wow Microsoft, we can make a fortune!” Verizon is clueless. They look at devices as a platform for selling add-on services and other gimmicks instead of devices as a platform for having customers, who pay them recurring service fees. All the carriers are just now waking up to the idea that they are ISPs now. They are a significant part of the future of Internet connectivity. The telcos continue to fight what customers want instead of embracing customer demand and focusing on it. The mobile Internet is the here and now. Make it faster and make it better. If it wasn’t for Apple disrupting the smart phone market we would still be saddled with Blackberries or even worse, a WinMo device. And the Japanese would still have way more cool phones than us. If you make an iPhone, the people will come. Just ask AT&T.

Microsoft was so bat-shit crazy to think that that people wanted a mobile social device over a mobile phone. People still buy phones for the phone part. I promise. Although, I barely use minutes from my plan, I still need it to talk to mom. I have gazillions of roll-over minutes. All my usage is texting and data. Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, etc are all nice addons, but they belong in the market place of apps. Would I really buy a mobile device because it is better at Tweeting? That’s nutty.

Fortunately for Microsoft, the Kin team is different from the mainline Windows 7 Series Phone (yes it is really called that) team so it will take them a while to make that even worse than it is now. Is it possible that WinMo could get worse? WinMo is the laughing stock of the smart phone world. I have coworkers who have them and they violently curse the very name WinMo. Enough cannot be said for how bad it truly is. There are only a few discombobulated corporations left buying them, the slow-moving impossible to change type of corporations.

I guess when you have billions of cash on hand you can afford to make expensive mistakes like this. Remember the old ruthless Microsoft of the 90’s? Yea, me neither, that corporation is long gone. I leave you with this picture.

Blockbuster woes continue

More trouble for Blockbuster. They need to act now and act boldly, as their debt is crushing them. Blockbuster Will Be Delisted.

This of course is good news for both Netflix and Rebox. Having the Blockbuster nightmare removed from the scene will force the studios to make better deals with these two strong performers. Unfortunately, the studios are still dumb and slow and they still think the Blockbuster model will continue to work. They continue to resist change and embrace the business model of the 90’s, that made them so very rich. The only notable exception seems to be Paramount. Hopefully when Blockbuster finally does implode, the studios will hop on board the clue train and work with Netflix, Redbox, Hulu, and the like. Its in their best interest. Will it happen? Doubtful, especially given the awful track record the studios have for an unwillingness to change. Worst case scenario is they continue ignore these “new” media outlets, the not-as-worst case scenario is they try to build their own Netflix competitor. It wouldn’t surprise me if that is exactly what they try to do. Remember the many failed attempts of the RIAA members to do exactly that? Even the RIAA has finally seen the light, suing your customers is bad for business.

It is only a matter of time and it looks like my prediction of Blockbuster folding by the end of the year is holding strong still.