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Technomancer and troubleshooter by trade. Programmer by choice. Creator of Deviant Paradigm,
somewhat by accident.
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Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Musings of a Technomancer
Just some idle musing of mine. It is equally valid for men and women, so replace things as appropriate, I write from my point of view. In no particular order:
- Yes, I hate fixing other people's computers, particularly because they do such stupid things. No, I am not likely to stop doing so. Partly this is because they pay well. Partly this is because I always hope the next time they'll refer me to the beautiful girl with a technology fetish, some FPS skill, and no boyfriend. Yes, this is unrealistic, but if I am faced with the choice between unrealistic optimism and a lifetime of reading bad Seven-of-Nine Slash Fanfics, I will choose the optimism every time.
- No, buying a shirt from ThinkGeek will not impress me. Buying things from ThinkGeek marks you as more of a nerd poseur than buying things from Hot Topic marks you as a goth poseur. I am only guaranteed to laugh at any given technology related joke once. I probably saw whatever witticism which is emblazoned on your chest on the Usenet discussion it originally appeared on. Yes, that means I will not be laughing at your shirt, and may, in fact, be somewhat offended.
- If I ever call myself "leet" (or any modification there of, I am fluent in that "language," if only for the purposes of mockery) I am being facetious. I have nothing but contempt for the wannabe's who think poor grammar and incomprehensible character substitution makes them impressive computer users. That said, I do like to spell things the way they do -- such garbage makes for very secure passwords. Nowhere else is this junk permitted.
- Yes, people who think leet is cool are very annoying. A normal person might find them irritating. Someone like me finds them insulting. For most people, confronting the stereotype of their group makes them very angry. Nerds are no different. This makes my enjoyment of Megatokyo even more curious, as Piro's parts feel like being an adolescent male watching a soap opera and Largo's parts feel like being an African-American watching a black-face pantomime.
- Eventually you get very jaded concerning computer hardware. It becomes like parents do after their third or so child -- very little forms a real emergency any more. The amateurs (or the burned) invest in anti-static mats; people like me tap the case three times and expect that, unless someone switches on a Tesla coil, there will be no further problem with static electricity. You might short boards out on the case, but you won't kill things with static electricity.
- If you want to set your computer on fire, so be it, but do not expect me to get greatly impressed. A true master may have overclocked his system, yes, but he realizes that clock speed is not everything, or even anything. It is far more impressive to make a 486 do what it was never meant to do without making it act like a Pentium by generating more BTU's than a space heater than it is to watch you push another hundred megahertz out of your latest generation AMD 64 at the cost of a few degrees on the thermostat and five more bucks to the power company every month.
- A true master may well be part of an overclocking forum, but that is only to help those who are not masters do what he has done. He has no interest in bragging about how big of numbers he has achieved. Such things are childish and below him. When pressed, he may speak about overclocking something to 100 MHz, a paltry number, until he reveals that it is a 386 he is talking about.
- Do not get involved in a dispute over frames per second unless there is no other recourse. This is nothing but a pathetic pissing contest. It should be enough to simply point out that your computer is currently both the Counterstrike and UT2k4 server, while you yourself play a rousing game of Marathon and listen to music streamed from the Internet.
- This is especially true when talking to console people, most of whom do not even know what a "frame" is, and why you want as many of them per second as possible.
- Some people may tell you that they prefer to play first-person games with controllers, "because they are better with a controller." That may be true for them, but they are an unusuality in the world, and probably spent most of their time learning FPS's with Halo or something else like that. They will never learn the proper way to play because they will always choose something to play like Counterstrike or UT2k4 and be so totally defeated that they will swear off such games. It does not pass into their mind that the reason their opponents are twice as fast and accurate as they are has more to do with not hamstringing themselves with a terrible interface than it does with skill.
- Being the "greatest console FPS" means almost nothing. Notice how strictly the market is controlled? Compare this to the cutthroat nature of the PC market and you can see why "best console FPS" is sort of like claiming the title of "best slingshot for hunting ducks." Okay, that's great, but why am I not using a shotgun?
- This is also analogous to being the "best PC sports game."
- Software people are mostly liberal and hardware people are mostly conservative. No, I don't know why this is the case, it just is. Like bugs in a browser, it is simply universal truth.
- Almost nothing can break us of our preconceived notions. It doesn't matter that Firefox has more exploits and vulnerabilities found in it than IE for almost a year running, many of us will assure you that Firefox is, quite nearly, better than sex, and certainly better than IE. The other part of us will assure you of exactly the opposite.
- I have spent most of my life studying computers and technology. Do not think you can lecture me on something. I don't care if you just read it somewhere. Just because it is in Wikipedia, that does not make it right. In fact, that probably makes it wrong.
- Wikipedia is a better argument against Randian objectivism than anything else I can imagine.
- Nerds are, in their own way, even more elitist than the Indie folks. We have a nose for those who are faking it, and let me tell you, there is little more pathetic than being snubbed by a nerd. Then again, pretending to be a nerd is probably in that "little" to begin with. If you're going to pretend to be something, why not pretend to be something popular? Or at least not something with a significant social stigma attached to it.
- Every nerd idolizes Weird Science in a way, even though they may not know it. I myself have not seen the entirety of the movie. But, and it doesn't matter who the nerd is, we all like to imagine that there is a gorgeous babe out there, who will find us and what we do absolutely fascinating. Also, universally, any attempt to become suave to impress those we are attracted to is doomed to fail from the start.
- Shiny has more than one meaning. I have heard other people use it exactly the way I do, so I know I am not the only one aware of this. Shiny, as in an object, is desirable. While what specifically is shiny may differ from person to person, we all want shiny objects. Old, eldritch technologies are very shiny. The other form of shiny is related to the computing phrase "bloat." A shiny UI, for instance, while looking very pretty, probably leaks memory like a sieve, and all the useful functionality is jammed beneath layers of fluff. Flash-based websites are often this form of shiny (because the creator hates all humanity). Yahoo's Messenger Y! (especially the Windows 98 port) is this kind of shiny. (Shiny in this context should not be confused with "polished." Polished items are generally nearly opposite that of shiny objects).
- No matter what I say, Google is not out to get your soul. They have no use for souls. What they want is your identity, so that they can use it to generate advertisements. The least you can do is be aware of this, and, if you must, accept it. I give great credit to the only Google-drone I know, because he, like me, has a rather cynical view of "privacy" on the Internet, and accepts that he is owned by Google. In that, he is probably wiser than I am.
- Google now knows more about you than the NSA ever will, barring actual employment with them. Then there might be a tie. The sad thing is that no one cares about Google collecting all of your information, it's only the NSA we need protected from.
- Yes, I do realize the irony of using Blogger to criticize Google.
- Web 2.0 is gibberish. Just techno-babble. Even Sir Tim Berners-Lee (who won many points from me with this comment) isn't impressed -- it's just "Web 1.0" wearing a new shirt. Anyone who tells you differently is either selling you something or is one of the drooling supporters of the concept. Honestly, I find their vision of the Internet both frightening and unrealistic. Imagine what "all user contributed collaborative content" will do to Internet pornography.
- Sometimes I will say something that makes no sense and then laugh hysterically. I find myself very droll, and am prone to making inside jokes, often ones for which I am the only one on the "inside." It is best to simply grin stupidly and look away. This list is probably one of these things. The next point most certainly is.
- If I had one bit of advice to offer a new technomancer neophytus, just getting root for the first time, it would be this: There is more to performance than mere numbers. Never be too impressed with the numbers behind a system. In the end, numbers are just shiny, in both senses of the word. Power and capability are more than Megahertz and Gigabytes. Exploit what you have, push it far enough but not too far, and never forget that you have abilities that others do not. Use them.
There should be a review of Fight Club
(yes, it did take me this long to see it) and a discussion of secrets, lies, and government coming soon. Maybe. You know me.