Do I fail the geek test? (9 Nov, 2017)

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Do I fail the geek test? (9 Nov, 2017)

Postby aardvark_admin » Thu Nov 09, 2017 9:01 am

This column is archived at:

Do I no longer qualify for the title of "geek"?

Does the fact that I've stepped quite a way back from the cutting edge of technology disqualify me from this most illustrious of titles?

How many other Aardvark readers are also opting for a more "comfortable" and "affordable" position just a little back from the "latest and greatest" when it comes to the technology they actually *use*?

If you once were a geek but no longer qualify, how do you feel about that?
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Re: Do I fail the geek test? (9 Nov, 2017)

Postby par_annoyed » Thu Nov 09, 2017 9:34 am

(this sounds a bit like a sort of AA meeting...but anyway)

I used to be a Geek. My younger days were spent custom programming commercial machines in 6 foot cabinets in CORAL. I also had TRS80s and a BBC micro and such, and then a shiny (and expensive) PC 8086 and DOS with a 20 megabyte disc !!.
I played games on it, and then Win 3 turned up, with actual networking !! But gradually something happened, not quite sure what. The PC got ubiquitous and even started to replace the humble terminal to your mainframe...
Microsoft office meant everyone could do their own docs and spreadsheets, and typists disappeared, and (company) accountants became rarer. Many people wasted more time on 'presentation'
CPU power went through the roof, and games became all about 'frame rates' and fancy graphics and the strategy ones got less popular.... The internet became a thing.
And somewhere along here I stopped keeping up. So I'm the same as you, Bruce.

I do have a newer car (2010), but this is because my old trusty 1984 Volvo slipped its cam belt, and repairs are not cheap in NZ. (no - belt wasn't overdue for change, the idler pulley seized). I look at the engine partly in wonder , V6 - DOHC, variable valve timing, switching inlet runners, and an engine management system which probably has more power than my PC (ancient Athlon X2 6000+) , it develops 280bhp and yet returns under 8L/100 when driven reasonably gently (Toyota 2gr-fe). traction control, anti lock brakes, 10,000 air bags, So far away from the old carby Triumph 6 engines that I did a lot of stuff with....

My PC is 10 years old (as above, Athlon X2 6000+) running Linux, and it's fine. Don't even have a mobile phone, or a tablet, or anything else, except a cheap mp3 player for mowing etc. I've still got Cds, but did ditch all my old LPs a few years ago (sound better my arse ....!) after old player expired, but i hardly used it anyway. But I am thinking about getting a new Ryzen powered desktop.

I think it's a side effect of growing older - you no longer care about bright and shiny and exciting, it's more about whether it does the job well, reliably, and at a reasonable price..... and frankly some of the trends and games and the like make you say "WTF?"
I look at where I used to live in Manchester as a kid (google street view, another thing which didn't exist) and see all the shops have changed (I mean that they all seem to be takeaways, Nandos, Indians, Vietnamese even), the roads all sport speed bumps, 20mph limits, Libraries gone, Churches gone.

I can now see a 32 Gigabyte microSD card drop from between my fingers (or fingernails !) and think about that first 5 inch 20 Mbyte....
Yep, life has changed so much some of it is hardly recognisable.....

So I used to be a geek, but now I'm just an old, grumpy, ex IT, ex petrolhead, retiree.
But I know enough that I'm not ever getting a smart TV, or a internet enabled fridge, or use Windows 10, or believe anything without proof (etc.)
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Re: Do I fail the geek test? (9 Nov, 2017)

Postby retroman33366 » Thu Nov 09, 2017 9:41 am

From UBA Geek to Geek now a Retro Geek. How many on the beading edge can cut code? Now the Geeks are just consumers from what I have seen. I grew up in the days where real men wrote there own printer drivers, That came in handy when I had to make one for my Brother printer that I needed to use on a 64bit derivative of Linux, there 32 bit offering was so broken it was a sit down and start again. Even now after years, it still works...

I still use a CRT for photo editing as it has a more reliable colour profile than any LCD/OLED, the LCD's are just used to save a little power and reduce heat! for day to day stuff.

So there is comfortable and well they got it right the first time Like the Toyota Ute of yesteryear. (I still use a IBM Model M)
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Re: Do I fail the geek test? (9 Nov, 2017)

Postby hagfish » Thu Nov 09, 2017 10:07 am

I think there's 'technology', and then there's consumer 'technology'. New tech often arrives in the form of individual components, which may or may not yet have a particular application. Once the killer app comes along, the system integrators build the first 'boxes'. They are likely fairly hackable, with standardised, off-the-shelf parts and some degree of configurability and repairability. Once a market is established, we see the big players who ship proprietary sealed boxes - 'appliances'. There's not much scope for geekery with if opening your new toy requires a heat gun, suction cups, spudgers, jailbreak scripts and a voided warranty. Meanwhile, there are lots of people hacking away with cheap hardware from the Sino e-tailers.

Perhaps geekery now is more 'abstracted' than it used to be. Rather than hacking with low-level languages and hardware, geeks are playing with VR dev tools and systems-on-a-chip. I think geeky play is more accessible than ever, and there's relatively easy access to vast computational resources. No need to book time on a university mainframe when Amazon Web Services is just a credit card away.

I don't consider a new smartphone to be a 'geek' requisite. These days, they're just consumer tech, or lifestyle tech, rather than a piece of tech-tech. Likewise, today's new social media site/scandal is not really a tech story. Yes, they run on hi-technology, but so does every other element of western society.

As to my own gear, it's mostly old-but-servicable. My old phone might not do animoji poo karaoke, but does everything else, albeit more slowly, and on a puny screen. Old telly will be fine until supplanted by 4K. Old PCs are likewise fine at 1080p. Old laptop still runs great with its new SSD. Upgrading it would get a nicer screen, but be mostly a step 'sideways' in other regards.
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Re: Do I fail the geek test? (9 Nov, 2017)

Postby latewings » Thu Nov 09, 2017 10:18 am

Fossilisation is kicking in here too. I once had breadboard mania and good supply of ammonium per-sulfate and blank pc boards for one-off designs. Nowadays I tinker but nowhere near to the extent I once did. The sillyscope doesn't get much use beyond entertaining the kids with audio patterns.

I too use windoze7, however I did upgrade to a KabyLake I7 recently (which needed a bios flash to get working on the mobo before it was recognised) but that was to remove the lag from FSX while doing an IFR flight around Whenuapai.

My phone is a Samsung S4 - about five years old but still working well on the original battery.

I guess as I've aged I've tended to find something that works for my needs and look after it.
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Re: Do I fail the geek test? (9 Nov, 2017)

Postby Muscular Jam » Thu Nov 09, 2017 10:27 am

hagfish wrote:I think there's 'technology', and then there's consumer 'technology'.
Good point. So I reckon there are also geeks and consumer geeks. The consumer geeks have to have the latest i-whatsit so they can talk to their fridge. The geeks are building their own computers out of bits and installing linux. these subtleties may not be visible to the non-geek population
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Re: Do I fail the geek test? (9 Nov, 2017)

Postby goosemoose » Thu Nov 09, 2017 10:31 am

Yep retro here, rekindling the COBOL skills. Really i quite nice to whip up a program, not an app, that does "stuff" real quick. The Mrs has started listening to the radio on the internet, something I don't like as its not real radio. Much prefer aerials, wires and receivers. Weird. Still running an ancient laptop and don't have a smartphone of my own. The old Nokia does the trick there too. I still keep an eye on whats happening but it mostly seems people are reinventing the wheel, internet enabling it ans sticking it in the cloud. Not my cup of teapot made, leaf tea.
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Re: Do I fail the geek test? (9 Nov, 2017)

Postby phill » Thu Nov 09, 2017 11:28 am

your confusing the time honored geek with the new model fan boy

geeks had the model they could afford and souped it the best they could
fan boys buy the latest and watch it in slack jawed amazement

geeks saved what they could to buy the best specs they could afford .. to do the things they wanted to do
fan boys que up for >12 hours to buy stuff at midnight that has just been released .. and they have rarely looked passed the colour pictures of the outside to find the inner working specs

geeks now inhabit the back of the wave .. where prices have crashed from the peak point and reached the long term point
fan boys buy at the peak point and pay for all the development costs within a few months .. so the geeks can then buy the stuff even cheaper than originally

geeks have the same or similar cycles to they originally had ... replace every 5 or so years .. major upgrade every 2 or so years
fan boys run 2-3 cycles per geek cycle so they can keep up with the development costs for the geeks on cycle 1 2 or 3

so no
ya still a geek
( ,,,,,,,, ....... A E I O U use em sparingly theres probably not enough )
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Re: Do I fail the geek test? (9 Nov, 2017)

Postby paulw » Thu Nov 09, 2017 12:38 pm

I used to bee a geek, Latest phone, PC etc but these days at 71 I am getting cold on it. I'm not going to try to upgrade my TiVo myself I'll see if I can find someone in Hamilton to replace the PROM and upgrade the system software.. 10 Years ago I would have jumped at the chance and done it myself..
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Re: Do I fail the geek test? (9 Nov, 2017)

Postby foxyboy » Thu Nov 09, 2017 12:54 pm

It seems that I'm about half the age of most commenters here so was never at the stage of creating components from scratch just assembly. So Consumer Geek.

I used to buy the latest and greatest PC components and was heavily into Gaming which involved was running a highly modified tweaked gaming rig.

When that went up in flames (yes it did happen), i decided to give up gaming completely as the cost to rebuild was too high. A lesson that i've never since repeated of buying bleeding edge tech.

To me, if its not broken i dont replace it and it has to be fit for purpose.

Nexus 5, happy with the phone but no more security upgrades, bugs me. Would be happy with a dumb phone if i didnt need it for work which i do.
2004 Honda Accord, very reliable and good 5 start family car. will replace it when it dies but got a good 10-15 years leaft Would want to move to EV so waiting on this to become mainstream.
2011 Macbook Air.
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