Monthly Archives: June 2010

Open Letter regarding Confab signs.

Hey All,

Not that you are following my posts online for any reason, but I’ve had a chance to talk directly with some of the confab’ers after my remarks and voiced my displeasure. I even have one of their signs here at the geeks for a keepsake. I have no problem with their particular cause, or the people who perpetrated this whole mess. In fact, I think it’s a good cause and that they did a bang up job of creating a buzz. Impressive in a lot of ways. Let’s remove that from this entirely though. Let’s remove the individual people that we all know and respect, and let’s remove the ’cause’ from the equation. If instead of motherly locals advocating for the safety of their children, we had someone like me, a smartass musician/comedian who wanted to promote his scatalogical humor with a similar stunt. How would I be treated when it was found out who/what was behind it. Would I be given the same kid glove, slap on the wrist? What if it wasn’t me and my potty mouthed humor, but someone who was promoting gay sex education in our schools, or legalization of methamphetamine suppositories for children?

Politically I understand the desire to let this blow over, but personally, I’d be appalled to see it dismissed and then to crucify any future abusers. Rest assured if this goes unchecked I will be one of the first to take advantage of the hypocrisy, I have no taste for it. If you want to make a silk purse out of it, fine them appropriately and donate the money directly to an organization like ParentUP ( They are an organization doing good work directly in line with the confab’ers.

That’s my 4 cents.

So you want to be a geek?

So you want to be a geek huh? Being a geek isn’t something that just happens overnight there sparky, some are born with it, and others train for a lifetime, only to lapse into normalcy before the age of fifty. Being a geek means different things to different people, but it might best be explained simply as obsession. Pick a topic to be obsessed about. Maybe it’s Anne Frank, or Abe Vigoda, maybe it’s using COBOL to compile your music library database. Any topic will do really, so long as it isn’t something that’s inherently popular.

Once you have that topic chosen, it’s time to do the homework. Read everything you can on the subject and form definite opinions that may or may not be based on factual evidence. Stick to these opinions even after they are clearly disproven. Talk about your subject to anyone who will listen, and then continue to talk about it once they’ve turned away. Reinforce your own beliefs by restating them often and you’re well on your way.

It will also help you dramatically if you make this one very difficult choice. Star Trek or Star Wars? Sure you can easily just go with Star Wars if it’s 1985 and only three epic movies were made, but it’s 2010 and they hammered us with a second trilogy of mediocrity, forever tarnishing the name. And Star Trek? You’re going to go with the tribbles?!? Unconscionable. But a choice must be made, and it is a difficult one. Extra points if you go ‘Deep Space Nine’ only, or forsake them both for Battlestar Galactica and net double points. Take it a step further by having a well reasoned argument prepared for or against the Starship Enterprise vs. a fully functional Death Star.

Buy at least four small, unnecessary, but shiny electronic items. Extra points for being able to attach them all to your belt simultaneously. At least one of these devices should cost more than a weeks worth of your current salary, which is minimal, because you are a geek. Using these items should frustrate you to no end. Upgrading them is de rigueur, and talking about the next revision before it exists is perfectly acceptable.

Your clothing can’t be particularly stylish, at least not all at once. Sure, a nice pair of jeans is fine, but only if paired with a shirt that says ‘Don’t Panic’ on the front with the name Zarniwoop above the number 42 on the back. Shoes should be Chuck Taylor All Stars, unless you are a shoe geek, like me, which is probably one of the most appalling types of geeks around. It does improve the overall ‘look’ when I sport a well worn pair of Carhartt painter pants with some spiffy Cole Haan’s, no doubt about it.

As an electronics geek, you must be willing to spend hours, if not days, trying to make something work, without ever having the slightest desire to read a manual or call any manner of tech support. They clearly can’t help you. Any software installation ‘wizard’ will be wholly ignored. Extra points for authoring or modifying your own video or printer driver. +4 for calling tech support after three weeks of mucking about to tell them it’s ‘defective’.

Playing video games, it’s a given. Just like knowing which house you would belong to in Hogwarts. -10 for Hufflepuffs, no exceptions. Knowing the definitions of non-words like pwn, grok, and n00b. Dressing up as a paladin at Halloween is cool, dressing up as a dwarven warrior is really cool, seeing a girl dressed up as a night elf druid is epic. Being able to count in binary using your fingers and showing it off at cocktail parties. I can’t tell you how popular this will make you.

The downside of being a geek is that as your geekness increases, the amount of questions asked to you about any technical problem increases almost exponentially. At first it’s flattering, but after a while, it’s just madness, din, and vex. Using the word ‘vex’ as a noun is worth even more points, regardless of the impropriety. The best part about being a true geek is that it doesn’t matter what your answer is, so long as you offer it up with confidence, in truth you can take that broken thing and google up a fix as fast as anyone else out there. Being able to implement that found knowledge is where it’s at. Everyone has google, just like everyone had a set of Brittanica’s, or in my case the geekier World Book’s, but those who could actually use them to great advantage, well, they’re winning.

Yep, it’s a pretty good time to be a geek. Our time has truly come. Sure it’s painful as can be at the high school level, but the infinite rewards are out there, and most of us couldn’t un-geek ourselves if we tried. So I say to go for it, learn a programming language and annoy your teachers by constantly staying ahead of the curve with technology, because at some point, even the geekiest of us all, have to stop, stick with what we’re surrounded with and let go. Like an upside down kill screen in Ms. Pacman, all things must end. But I for one have plenty of time left to keep reaching for the next gadget, to see the Star Trek reboot and like it, and to re-read the entire Harry Potter series, or at least listen to the audiobooks. I’m a geek, it’s what we do.

Understanding the new iPhone data rate plans

So there’s already a bunch of people belly-aching about AT&T dropping their unlimited plan from iPhones. First thing to consider is that if you have an unlimited plan now and want to keep it, you can. So shut up. Okay, so now for the real numbers on this. The current $30/month plan is being replaced by two limited data plans. First is a $25/mo. plan that allows for 2 Gigabytes of data transfer. This is a LOT of data as far as a smartphone is concerned. AT&T claims that it will cover over 98% of it’s users easily with this. So there’s $60 in annual savings to 98% of users. The second plan is a much lower data amount. A paltry 200MB for $15 monthly. But let’s think about our data usage. In my particular case (an avid geek to boot), I am rarely using AT&T’s network for my data. Almost everywhere I go there is a WiFi hotspot that is open or mine. So I actually use very little data. I looked at the online reports for my account available here:  (You’ll need to be logged in for that link to be any good). So yeah, I looked at those reports and found that I have never in two years gone over 100MB, much less 200. So that’s $180 off my annual bill. AT&T claims that this plan will cover about 65% of their users. Do yourself a favor and go check out your data usage on the AT&T site or use the AT&T app for the iPhone to check your regular consumption. You may be surprised to see that you use far less than you though and that the new plans are in fact beneficial to the strong majority of users. That other two percent need to think about their usage a bit. Seriously? 2 gigs on a 3G speed network that drops out here and there? How aggravating. Go find a Starbucks or a McDonalds and finish off that download tout de suite.