Fishing Pole

by Jinryu

I never really realized how much I like to put myself in the category of a geek until it turned out (from reference letters that co-workers wrote for me) that people at work identify me as the IT guy at work. I don’t work in the IT department mind you. I have no knowledge whatsoever about how to run a server. It just so happens I can read English, am not afraid of attempting to unjam a printer, or press F1 for help. Maybe that’s a bit simplistic– but even though I don’t understand all the inner workings of a computer, I’m not afraid of it, and I have a respect of it that includes the patience to try and learn how to use it properly.

I’ll give myself credit– whatever I feel like learning, I’ll learn eventually, and I’ll use it in a lot of different ways. That, I think, is what makes me a bit of a geek. It has to do with hacking things to bits so that you can use them a certain way.

When I was in elementary school, I think that this kinda thing was kinda less cool. Being someone who sat in front of a television playing video games or in front of a monitor trying to figure out how to code in BASIC just wasn’t considered all that mainstream or cool. Now, somehow, I find myself with special weapons no matter what rung of the food chain I find myself on, because I know how to enter formulas in Excel, and can type 80 words per minute. It’s really not that hard.

The individual exploits aren’t really important though, not so much as the way of thinking about computing. I guess it’s like– you can’t really just memorize techniques of computing– you need to figure out applications of basic ideas, and build on that.

I’m less of a geek than a real geek, but I think I’d qualify for honorary status.

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You know what’s sick? My sister can actually type 120 words per minute. Really. She doesn’t know a thing about programming, can’t videogame to save her life, but she can out type me any day.

I’m wondering– was there like, a golden age of computing? Let me be more specific– was there a good time to grow up computing?

Where people were growing up at just the right time at the cusp between BASIC, C, and DOS? When .bat files still mattered? When Linux was still in two colours? There’s a period before computers; there’s a period where computers were hard to use; and then there is this period (now) where everything is such that if you throw enough money at them, computers just work.

My sister grew up in the current period… I feel I grew up somewhere just when computers were becoming a bit easier but still retained that gritty texty feel to them. And I think I’m better for it. Lets me exercise my mind in different ways– not only can I use the computer to do things in the modern off-the-shelf utility, as a tool, but I can build my tools with my tools, if that makes sense.

I think that largely, that’s why I hate hearing about anything technology related at work– because people who talk out of this now period of glitz and glam and throwing money at problems until they just work. Whatever happened to involvement in the tools we use? Whatever happened to artforms, to thinking, to trying to solve problems ourselves instead of asking for help all the time?

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Of course, there’s something to be said of being able to just tell your computer to do something and have it work.

I’m just saying that my modified 80′ Baracuda is still a better car than your Ford Echo.

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The internet in my area really sucks. I’m not really willing to pay over 40$ a month for internet, so, I’m currently paying about 35$ CAN for unlimited bandwidth. The speed isn’t too impressive though– the downloads top out at about 60kilobytes per second. That’s pretty pale, compared to about 700 KB/s at work (more than 10 times as fast).

I’m currently using an Online PC service though that hopefully gets me around the limitation of my slow internet. What the Online PC basically does is allow you to remotely access a PC somewhere else, where the internet connection is better. With the OPC that I’m using, the download rate is about 1300KB/s — do the math, that’s more than 20 times faster than what I get at home. And they offer this convenient service where you can ship them a HD, they’ll dump all your downloaded data onto it, and ship it back. Shipping back your HD is free. Shipping to them costs about… 10 bucks maybe? We’ll see.

Now, I guess you’re wondering why I chose to do it this way, rather than just pay more for internet at home. Well, I’m not sure about the costs just yet– but so far, at least while the OPC costs only 5$ per month (it’s on promotion at the moment) this method seems to be at least as cheap as upgrading my internet at home. Secondly, upgrading my home internet in the past, thanks to the lousy neighborhood network, hasn’t really made much a difference in the past, so I’m not too keen on paying more for marginal speed bosts.

Plus, this method makes me feel like more of a geek.

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