Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! ×
User Journal

Journal Journal: Geek Culture

Today, I realized just what an eclectic person I've become. (Which prompted me to dust off the old blog... What a geek...)

I was at Borders book shopping, and I came to this realization when I laid my purchases on the counter. The girl looked at them and glanced up at me with a slightly puzzled expression, and at that moment I noticed just what I had bought. A book on learning Korean, a book about a rather obscure philosopher, and a somewhat girly manga (don't make fun of me! ^_^*). Now, to me my purchases were perfectly logical, but to this other person they were strange. It got me thinking.

I listen to Japanese and European music. I watch Asian cinema. I play "weird" video games (DDR, old DOS games, Atari 2600), German board games, and Dungeons & Dragons. I drink Australian wine. I go to Linux conventions. I watch hockey. I mountain-bike and compose music. I vacation in Sandusky Ohio, Wildwood New Jersey, and Baltimore Maryland. I have countless friends on half the continents and most of the states, but few in my hometown.

And so I began to wonder just how I'd come to be this way. My interests and lifestyle are so vastly separated from the people with whom I interact on a daily basis that I often have very little to say. My culture has become independant of my locale, and as well independant of my peers.

What I don't do is just as telling as what I do. I don't watch television. Ever. I rarely go to the movies. I dislike malls and detest fast food. I rarely drink soda or beer. I don't read magazines or newspapers or listen to the radio. I don't go to bars or clubs. I don't even have a landline telephone. This often leaves me with no common ground with most people. I have no interest in the "latest episode of such and such last night" or the scandalous liason of the secretary in the other department, and similarly they have no interest in the latest Slashdot article or the newest board game to come out of France.

So from where have I derived my culture? After much thought, I've come to two factors that, together, have brought me (and many other geeks) to this state: university, and the Internet.


Fresh out of high school, I met the majority of my circle of friends early on at the campus gaming club. 20-odd different cultures with a few common interests (Anime, Role Playing Games, Computers) came together, and each shared its own unique interests (German board games from one, DDR from another, etc...) with the rest. In short order, a sort of amalgamated group culture emerged: Geeks. Our interests converged as we lived, worked, and played together.

Now, this in itself is nothing unusual. In proximity, people will generally adapt to form local culture. This is the basis of civilization. Furthermore, if a person leaves one place and moves to another, he will lose bits of his old culture and gain bits of his new one, if for no other reason than his physical separation and increasingly sparse contact with his past.

This brings us to the second factor, and here is where it gets interesting.

The Internet

Most any information is available on the Internet, and the Internet is accessible from (theoretically) anywhere. Moreover, it is the same Internet when a person is on one place as it is when he is in another.

It thus removes the need for physical proximity in maintaining culture.

I have moved away from my uni. I live 310.88 miles from the former centre of my cultural identity. The Internet, however, has allowed me to first stay in easy and frequent contact with all of my former friends and second to indulge my cultural interests online. As I have maintained contact with my culture, I have not been susceptible to the assimilation pressures of my new place of residence.

I am still a geek, even if there are no other geeks near me.

User Journal

Journal Journal: cinco de mayo 1

Happy Cinco de Mayo to me.

Also. Happy Birthday to Me. :)

I'd love to post somethin' about how different it feels to be 23, but it all sounds trite, so fuck it.

If there're any NYC slashdotters out there readin' this, we be gettin' drinks 'round 10 tonight at Bar 81 (aka "the Verk" - 7th street between 1st and 2nd aves, right next to Blue and Gold.) Just ask the bartender to point me out - I'll hopefully be the one at the center of the colossal drunken roaring. :)

More info can be found Here.


Christmas Cheer

Journal Journal: Camera Help 8

All right y'all. You call yerselves geeks? This is your chance to prove it.

In an ill-advised bout of christmas cheer, my girlfriend has decided (over my not so strenuous objections) to take me to England in January. To celebrate, I've decided to get myself a digital camera but have absolutely no idea as to where to buy from, what to look for or how much to pay.


CHEAP. I can't stress this enough. I know ya get what ya pay for, but I'm looking for the best deal for the least amount of money. I really can't afford to spend more than $150 on this piece of tech, and even that's pushing it. (this isn't including any external memory cards, though it'd be REALLY nice if it came with one instead of relying initially on built-in storage. More on that in a sec)

Once that's out of the way...

Ideally, this little gadget would have a physical zoom (instead of an optical one) and an LCD of some description. I'd also like a way to download my pics from the camera to my iPod. As far as I know the only easy way to do this is via CF with a reader attached to the 'pod. This is managable, but I'd like to not have to pay more for an extra memory card, ie, I'd rather it have no interal storage and an included CF card (or, of course, both) rather than it just coming with internal memory.

This seems to be the best deal I've found so far, but then again, as I've said, I have practically no idea as to what I'm talking about. :)

C'mon guys: What're my odds of finding exactly what I'm looking for, and where should I do my shopping?



Journal Journal: Happiness 4

I'm a happy person. In fact, I'd say that I don't know a single person who's happier than I am. I'm sure there is such a person somewhere, but I just haven't yet had the pleasure of meeting him. My room-mate is close, but I'd say he's about equally happy to me, so he isn't actually "happier." We're both equally happy.

Now, I know a lot of sad people. Many, many people are generally bummed, depressed, suicidal, or otherwise just -sad-. Quite frankly, the concept is foreign to me. Alien.

You see, I never get sad. I'm happy no matter what happens in my life. I've been momentarily miffed, occaisionaly vexxed, and more than once frustrated, but never long enough to spoil the general feeling of utter joy I experience each and every day. I haven't been angry at anyone in many years.

((Skip down to the bottom if you want the short version. That's where I get to the point!))


One of the things that I believe facilitates this feeling is my firm belief that words alone can never hurt anyone. NEVER. Now, before you say that isn't true, indulge me.

First off, I'm not talking about words that cause action. Telling the police that I'm a murderer will hurt me indirectly, but the words themselves caused no harm: you and the police did. Nor am I talking about words spoken behind one's back. They can indirectly harm a person's reputation, but they cannot actually harm the person directly. I am also not talking about blatant lies along the lines of "Your family was just killed," when such is not true. Such meanness is beyond the scope of my little dissertation/rant.

That being said, words can only come in one of two varieties: they are either true, or they are false. Let's take the case of the latter first. Obviously, if what someone says is not true, it cannot hurt me. "You're fat, and your mother is a whore" does not harm me in any way. I am actually quite lean, and my mother is a saint ^_^. The statement can't offend me: it isn't true. Indeed, there is no way in the world to offend me or make me sad with a lie. If I were somehow affected by that statement, then there must be some truth in it of which I am ashamed.

That brings us to the case of the former: a true statement. Quite simply, I'm ashamed of nothing I've done, and I'll readily admit to anything. Suppose I'd done something horrible. Someone berates me for it. It's a true statement: what I've done is an inescapable truth. The statement cannot actually cause me grief unless I'm ashamed or bothered by my past action. As I've never done anything I'm ashamed of, there is no statement that can preclude my happiness.

I've been in some blistering arguments, and I've had bone-chilling insults thrown my way on many occaisions. Alas, they mean nothing, for they're either false, and thus not worth even considering, or true, and simply worth fessing up to.


Another key factor in my unending merriment is the fact that I never get angry. No one has ever done anything to me which has made me angry. Sure, people have done some pretty nasty and/or shortsighted things to me, even in recent memory, but such trivialties are hardly worth being angry over, let alone losing friends for. Grudges are silly, and revenge is pointless.

Furthermore, I can honestly say that nothing bad has ever happened to me. No matter how dire a situation I've found myself mired in, I've always found my way out unscathed. Even the few scathings I've had haven't bothered me. You see, I tell people that "everything happens for a reason," but what I really mean is that "everything happens." The past is the past. Spend more than a moment looking over your shoulder at the rock you just tripped over, and the rock in front of you will get you just as badly.

I take adversity as it comes. As the old saying goes, when you ask the gods for strength, they give you hardship which, in the overcoming, makes you stronger.


Death is another big thing. A lot of my friends are afraid of it, or else otherwise deeply affected by it.

It doesn't bother me at all. It happens to everyone sooner or later, so there's no avoiding it. Thus, there's no worth in worrying about it. Live, then die. Try to have fun in between. Worry about death after you're dead.

As for other people dying, it happens. You move on. Sure, you might never see them again, but there's nothing you can do about it. Death is natural: it isn't anything sad or devastating, it just happens.


Here's the point of this whole unedited, non-proofread rant.

One thing I've noticed thoughout my whole life is that people are constantly trying to rain on my parade, to "convince me" that I'm not actually happy. They tell me I'm unfulfilled, or that I'm faking it, or that it's not -really- happiness, or some other such bollocks. I'm not sure just what to make of it, quite frankly. -I- know that I'm happy. What difference does that make to others? Why don't people believe that my life is just one long sunny day (and more importantly, why do what care?) They can't seem to live with the fact that nothing bothers me, that I take everything (and I mean everything) in stride.

(With rare, dire, extreme exception, like Nazis, or maybe Zombies,) nothing's worth being angry over, and nothing's worth fighting over: life is wonderful no matter what happens. People should spend less time trying to make me unhappy, and spend more time asking themselves why they care so much about it in the first place. Happiness starts with you: I'm already finished ^_^.


As I noted before, this is a rant. Any grammar errors/typos can be carefully shoved you-know-where. ;^) I needed to kill some time at work, and after having had the millionth person try to talk me out of being happy, it seemed like a generally relevant/interesting topic.


Journal Journal: Socially Maladjusted People 2

Something interesting happened today.

Under a story about gamers, I posted an anecdote about someone I knew (of) in college. It was somewhat exaggerated, and written more to be funny than to prove a point. The gist of it was that this guy, whom I dubbed "Loser" in the post, was addicted to Asheron's Call. I wanted to get some laughs, and I seemed to have (+5 Funny and all).

But then, an Anonymous Coward replied with this. If you follow that thread, you'll find a rather interesting exchange. It appears that "Loser" read and responded to my post. In sum, he seemed to blame me for not reaching out, as opposed to himself for not doing the same. He was "shy," so it was apparantly my duty to engage him.

One quotation in particular interested me. At least the people playing took the time to say hello once and a while.... unlike somone else who was actually there and couldn't be bothered to even say hello to another human in the same room not 6 feet away.! So indeed, he actually found the social interactions of the game to be better than those of the real world.

What bothers me is the second part of that statement. This man is angry that other people can't be bothered to seek him out. No mention of the possibility that those people likely saw no reason to do so, just a wide swath anger directed toward the world-at-large. It's their fault he doesn't have friends.

This attitute seems very prevalent among the various stripes of social misfits. They seethe in silent anger, yet never consider the fact that they may indeed have a problem, that there might be a reason people don't reach out to them. Perhaps they don't make eye contact, or they smell, or they're rude, or they're genuinly uninteresting to talk to. Or perhaps they just sit there, waiting. Waiting for someone to "save" them, to befriend them and magically whisk them away into the social world they've never known.

That saviour is never coming.

Now, I could write at length about this issue, or even this specific case, but I won't. These are mere symptoms of a larger problem. You see, this man and all the other socially maladjusted people in the world had to have come from somewhere. What could possibly make someone so shy, or so boring, or so socially inept, that they end up this way? Bad parenting? Video games? Drugs? Poor schooling?

Large numbers of people are entering the world, fresh out of high school, with little or no social skill. They aren't integrating into the culture of their species. It's somewhat frightening. Quite frankly, I'm not sure what to do about it.

If you have any doubt, and you happen to live near Rochester NY, stop by RIT's campus some weekend and take a walk through the dorms. Or stop by one of the large clubs for a meeting. You'll see a good number of funny, interesting people interacting and having fun (myself included). But, you'll also see a large number of outcasts either sitting quietly by themselves or attempting (and failing) to interact with the more social groups. In the dorms specifically, you'll come across closed dorm-room doors and sounds of Counterstrike through the wood... and nothing else.

User Journal

Journal Journal: PS2 3

Ok y'all, survey time. I just got a good deal on a Playstation2 (yeahyeah, I'm behind the times - sue me ;) and need to know what games to look for. Here's the catch - I'm looking for older (read: cheaper) games. I know the Matrix and X-Men -based discs are supposed to be awsome, but you'll never find me spending $50 for them. I'm looking to spend around $20 each.

Any suggestions?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Hello World

It's been a while.. For the first time since my freshman year of college, I'm loggin back into slashdot. I never really posted or moderated, but back then I didn't have hours upon hours of idle time at work with nothing better to be doing. ;^)

Methinks I'll use this journal. Could be interesting...


Journal Journal: ack!

My iPod just died. I pushed my headphone plug into the jack and heard a tiny little *snap*. I now only get sound from one ear. This is not cool - I've sold my discmen and boxed all my CDs. My job is mindless - how the hell am I supposed to deal with it without something to keep me company? More importantly: why did apple make the connector plastic? That was an error - I've thought so for months and now that thinking has bit me. Hard.

I will be eagerly awaiting my repair status confirmation. :(

User Journal

Journal Journal: moving is hard 4

I have WAAAAAAY too much stuff. We stuffed my mom's car last weekend, TWICE, and it still looked like nothing had changed in our old apartment.

So I went on a rampage last night, threw everything I could into boxes and stacked them, moved the now empty bookcases against the wall to get 'em outta the way. Looks much much better but there's still quite a bit left to sort through, throw out and pack.

I have so many books it's not even funny. 4 boxes of fiction, 2 boxes of musical scores/sheet music, a box of tech/textbooks. Two boxes of CDs (that are, thanks to iTunes and external storage, staying in the closet). Two boxes of movies. At LEAST 3 full bags of clothes.

That's not even counting the furniture (shudder). AT least we don't need to move my 6-foot desk. Or the bed, or the couches. We had enough money from me selling some old tech and from the girl saving like crazy, to buy new stuff.

Hopefully I'll be ready to move the computer by next weekend. Once that (ok, and the cats) are there the balance shifts from living in Queens and stopping by manhattan to the other way 'round. Can't wait.

User Journal

Journal Journal: movin' out 6

Hell yes. After suffering the degradation of living in what amounts to a retirement home (IE, Queens County, NYC) for close to two years, the girl and I are moving away from the roommate- whose-primary-qualities-shall-not-be-named into Manhattan. Not even a dangerous, evil part of Manhattan, but 26th street. 4 blocks from school. A quick 20 minute busride from work (instead of the hellish 80 minute bus-train-train-walk combo I'm working with now). Hardwood floors. Southern exposure. Lower power bills. Blocks from everything (like, oh, I dunno bars with people my age in them), lotsa food, cheap groceries and delis. In short, heaven.

I initally moved to Queens to get away from my parents - it needed to be done, but getting away from home isn't worth completely destroying what are supposed to be the FUN years of my life.

When I told the roommate she...well, she wasn't happy. But after 2 years of dealing with her viral nature (spreading to any clean part of the apartment like a fungus) I'm ready to slap her. She's lucky I didn't just move out in the middle of the night when she wasn't there. Bah.

I start moving Sunday. Giddygiddygiddy.


Journal Journal: Broadband! 2

I took the plunge. I ordered broadband. My DSL Modem should arrive tomorrow and I need some pointers.

Here's the question: What can I do with it? Apart from faster browsing and quick system updates and all that jazz, what sort of stuff can you DO with an always on connection? Any good applications out for OSX that...monitor...stuff? Or something? I'm sure I'll find stuff but I'd like a head start.


Journal Journal: Just had an idea... 1

Ok, so I was thinking about Apple ditching ADB and serial ports completely in favor of USB and Firewire, so I started thinking about the next thing to go.

Then, as I looked at my flatscreen iMac I had my epiphany. There's nothing about the interface of that computer you don't need. All that matters is the screen, the keyboard and (occasionally) the optical drive. Since you don't need the CD drive exposed constantly, you move the screen out of the way when you need to access it. Sweet idea.

Then it hit me: optical disk-drives will go. Think about this piece of tech:

Instead of placing a disk in the drive we'll have a small, flat box with a cheap, short-range wi-fi transmitter in it. It'll probably be completely solid state, not optical or magnetic. You take the thing within range of your computer and the computer automagically mounts the disk just like a CD. No more need for truly 'removable' media.

This is a far future thing (and how you power the drive is a problem) but I'm willing to be we'll see this in the next...10? 20?...years.



Journal Journal: The Perfect Song Lyric (CONTINUED!!!) 7

This is a continuation of the original discussion (found here) that has been archived. Check the link for current submissions. I'll be posting the best of what's been sent in so far this upcoming weekend. Doesn't mean the project's over, it's just good to have milestones. :)

The (edited) original post:

I need a little help with a paper I'm thinking of writing. The subject is the perfect song lyric.

This is the basic idea: there's lots of music out there. Lots of it sucks. Some of it's good. A small percentage of it is blow-you-away awsome. But sometimes a lyric hits you so hard, a gut-wrenching, purely visceral/emotional response it almost makes the whole song worth listening to just to get to that good bit, even if, without that lyrical punch, it's completely worthless. I'm not talking about a good lyric or a cute turn of phrase, I mean a lyric that instantly fires up your imagination, planting a picture of a scene so eloquently you're left out of breath.

I'm not asking for your favorite lyrics. I'm not asking for what a lyric means to you (it should be apparent in and of itself). I'm asking for a lyric that creates a scene, gives you backstory, tells you much much more than the words do by themselves, all in a few lines.

So please, reply here. Tell your friends. Just tell 'em to reply here with their choices. Be sure to include the artist, the song and the lyric. I'm planning to publish this if I get enough of these together, and you'll get credit where it's due (of course). :)

Thanks y'all.

United States

Journal Journal: Beer (and Thanksgiving)

Woo Hoo!

I'm goin' to Washington DC for thanksgiving. I REALLY need a vacation and my parents are kindly supplying one.

Anyone in the DC area wanna grab a beer this weekend? :)


Slashdot Top Deals

Drilling for oil is boring.