Full-On Geekery

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I was having a philosophical discussion about geekery the other night with Kate Nepveu, about whether to qualify for geekdom one needs to have a certain level of technical/mechanical/mathematical aptitude, or if just having the outward trappings of geekdom were enough to seal the deal. I argued for the former, while she tended toward the latter. Moreover I expressed the opinion that despite some rather compelling circumstantial evidence to the contrary, I wasn’t a true geek, to which Ms. Nepveu (politely) seemed skeptical.

Well, she wins. Here’s me caught in the act of configuring my home network, connecting the Mac and PC through a network router I just happened to have around the house, and connecting the laptop you see here through wireless (I’m running iTunes on all of them off my PC to make sure local file sharing is working). Even considering how much easier it is to make a home network these days than, say, even a couple of years ago, I am indeed feeling well and truly geekified.

The new Mac has settled in well, and I’ve been enjoying playing with it. It’s been more than a decade since I owned a Mac, so I was genuinely not prepared for how damn pretty everything is on Mac; it’s like someone gave my computer experience a tasty candy coating. And everything is indeed absurdly easy to use. Having said that, I’m not entirely ready to throw aside the PC, however. For one thing, all my stuff is there. For another thing, not every Mac application is as good as a PC application.

Garageband, for example, seems like a chintzy knockoff of Acid Pro; if I’m going to make music, I know which application I’ll choose to use. On the other hand Garageband costs about $400 less, so I guess one shouldn’t complain too much (it’s actually almost exactly like the basic version of Acid, which sells for something like $40). Since I’m keeping both computers running, however, and right next to each other and on the same network, the point is moot. It doesn’t matter which computer runs what; it can all be accessed anyway.

Now all I need to do is add a Linux box to the party and I can finally get my geek merit badge. However, don’t be waiting up nights.

16 thoughts on “Full-On Geekery

  1. Dude…seeing that photo and simultaneously experiencing a gestalt-groking of what I know of your achievements, your mindset and your lifestyle, I suddenly realized that you are sooo dead-on my hero and role model (except for the kid thing). The epiphanal revelation of which both excites and disturbs me at the same time.

    I have to go away now and digest this realization before I blow a fuse or something.

  2. Now all I need to do is add a Linux box to the party and I can finally get my geek merit badge. However, don’t be waiting up nights.

    Nah. No need for a separate box, as Linux will happily live in a separate partition in your Windows box. I did this for several years until I decided to just add a second hard drive for Linux to live on. Saved my ass the last time Windows got borked.

    Ubuntu Linux is mailing out free CDs of their excellent version if anyone cares, including a live CD which you can boot from to get a taste without having to install.

    Although, with Mac OS being laid on top of BSD nowadays, you can experience all the command line frustration/power you would ever want to. My next box will probably be a Mac Mini. My old line Unix friends are moving to Mac, nowadays. Odd how Apple managed to do what all the free software folks have never been able to accomplish, build the world’s best user interface on top of a free O/S.

    Have fun with your new toy, John!

  3. Yeah, if you’re going to do serious music stuff you want Logic or Logic Express (being $1000 and $300 respectively)—Garageband’s big brothers. You do lose the woodgrain though ;-)

  4. Re: geekdom, I’d have to agree with you on this one. Geekdom doesn’t require knowledge of any specific subject, but it does require thorough, sometimes obsessive knowledge of at least one thing. I’ve met horticulture geeks, robotics geeks, art geeks, food geeks, boardgame geeks — the discipline doesn’t matter so long as there is one.

    In Kate’s scenario, if one has the outer trappings of geekdom but no actual creamy, geeky inner core, one will not only be looked upon by “normal” people as a geek, but also rapidly exposed as a non-geek (wannageek?) when in the company of actual geeks.

    I could put on a firefighter’s outfit, and talk about all the fires I’ve fought, and look strapping wearing a helmet, but when a fire started and I didn’t know what to do, my true lack of firefighterdom would be obvious.

  5. Semi-totally-unrelated comment… check out Instapundit this morning — He has yet another plug for Old Man’s War! Cool.

  6. I don’t believe I said outer trappings, I believe I said _attitude_, quite a different thing. Which we both have, even if I took Calc & you didn’t.

    And, also, as I said then–you’re on the Geek Hierarchy! Q.E.D.

  7. Chad wrote:
    >Dude, you are so a geek. It didn’t require a third computer to prove it.

    He’s right. Bonus geekery points if you fire up a terminal and write Ghost Brigades with vi and LaTeX.

  8. Hmmm, would you be interested in moving up from geek to guru?

    In my opinion guru comes about as you experience enough of the geek flavors to realize they are all superficial and there is a universal essence that is the real prize.

  9. LC9er:
    He’s right. Bonus geekery points if you fire up a terminal and write Ghost Brigades with vi and LaTeX.Child’s play. I write my novels in emacs, then use a Perl script to convert the plaintext into XML so that I can format them with XSL-FO stylesheets. How many points is that worth?
    And Scalzi wrote:
    The new Mac has settled in well, and I’ve been enjoying playing with it. It’s been more than a decade since I owned a Mac, so I was genuinely not prepared for how damn pretty everything is on Mac; it’s like someone gave my computer experience a tasty candy coating.If you’re into that, be sure to take a look at OSX Tiger at the end of the month. On top of all the new functionality and widgets, there’s a new graphics system that (besides making the old stuff faster) makes your screen ripple and pop and dance the Macarena.I replaced my Linux box with a Mac Mini in February, and really haven’t missed it any since then. The Mini gives me all the same power, with none of the compromising or wondering why Gnome crashed on me this time.

  10. Might I submit that the need to debate whether you are a geek or not (particularly on one of your two, very successful blogs) automatically qualifies you as a geek?

    Hardware is just window dressing…

  11. Child’s play. I write my novels in emacs, then use a Perl script to convert the plaintext into XML so that I can format them with XSL-FO stylesheets. How many points is that worth?

    Piker.

    A real writer would start this way:

    cat | sendmail -f me@foo.com editor@tor.com

  12. I define “geek” as “professional appreciator.” Think of John Cusack in High Fidelity (before he decides to produce). Quentin Tarantino was a movie geek who ascended.

  13. Having used both Acid and Garageband, I gotta say you’re not really being fair to Garageband–as the name indicates, it’s more of a tool for the recording of live instruments, whereas Acid is a sequencer that also happens to do an OK job of recording live stuff. E.g., Garageband’s built-in amp simulators: the basic version of Acid may be $40, but you’re gonna drop another $200 on a Pod or other decent amp modeler. Garageband is loaded with enough little tweaky things (vocal correction, for example) to make any semi-hobbyist one-man band quiver.

    -j.

  14. John, I should point out that in that picture you look exactly like Terry Francona, manager of the world champion Boston Red Sox. Exactly.

    Yes, I am a baseball geek.

    Yes, there are baseball geeks.

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