There are so many darling geek niches these days, one can’t possibly dictate everything that a geek should know! What seems like common knowledge to some may be mind-blowing to others. As we all know, not everyone self-identifies is a pop-culture fiend, so we’ll stay away from stuff like “why Han shot first matters”. Hopefully this is a pragmatic and useful list that will help geeks go about their day-to-day lives.
10. Support the little guys!
Almost every expensive and bloated piece of software that comes packaged with your computer has a free (or available for donation) alternative. Giving your time or money to these products will encourage more open-source software alternatives and diversify what is available. In addition, sometimes the open-source alternative can suit your needs better than its Big Name counterpart.
9. Support the things you love!
Similar to seeking out open-source software, supporting the little guys pays off! Whether it’s your favorite indie filmmaker, musician, game developer, or cult TV show- if you don’t support it, you’ll lose it! I’m sure I don’t need to tell you this, but if you find that you love a game like Braid or films by some new director you discovered at a film festival, foster your love by seeking out similar entities.
8. Secure your wireless!
I am consistently shocked whenever I move to a new building to find that half my high-rise leaves their connections open. It could be that I live in a city of Luddites, or it could be that many of them can’t be bothered. Don’t just add password encryption, but also turn off SSID broadcasting, disable your guest accounts, and turn on MAC filtering. These steps should only take fifteen minutes and will stop you from getting WiFi leeches.
7. Back up your data!
This is likely old-hat for most of you, but there’s no excuse for data loss anymore! You can get a decent external hard drive for under a hundred bucks, there are tons of cloud storage options with automatic back up and you can even get a cheap little USB flash drive to keep your most important data backed up in your fire safe.
6. Fix your family’s computer.
You can spend years pretending that you aren’t a “computer person”, but you will slip up one of these days and then your whole family will know who to go to when their browser gets too bogged down with free toolbars to function. Firstly, make sure you have some portable tools with you over holiday visits. Secondly, know when to say “no”! (Your holiday shouldn’t be work.) Make sure you give them instructions on how to keep their computer functional. The caveat for free help should be that they are expected to try and follow the basics of computer maintenance. I highly suggest printing this out and posting it prominently next to their computers.
5. Make basic everyday tasks more efficient.
I don’t mean ridiculous Rube Goldberg breakfast machines (although that could be fun, albeit messy). Setting aside time to automate everyday tasks could save you tons of time each day or at least eliminate the possibility for human error during your busy work week. Automating your computer’s system maintenance, automating your rent and bill payments, sorting your email and aggregating your daily news sites into one place is just a start.
4. Learn some basic programming.
There are so many tutorials and resources online that there is no reason not to! CodeAcademy and Khan Academy have some basic courses and MIT’s Open Courseware has classes available for basically anything.
3. Build a PC!
If you’re looking to build something powerful or just a simple rig for your kids to play on, building it yourself is easier than you would imagine, easier on your wallet, and educational. If you don’t know where to start, r/buildapc has a very educational wiki and beginner tutorials. r/buildapcforme exists if you need help putting together parts. You could build a rig powerful enough to play most games on high settings for about $600. No joke.
2. Myth Bust!
Unfortunately we can’t filter forwards on social networking like we can in our emails. If you have a lot of gullible people on your news filter, you are likely to see several classic “share and like” hoaxes. Don’t accept business cards at gas stations, boycott this company, pray for this poor soul, etc. Likewise, if you work in an office with less savvy colleagues, you will find yourself hearing the same rumors circulating. Two microwaves in the lunchroom? Don’t stand too close — you’ll get cancer! Sunscreen causes blindness? It’s up to you to MYTH BUST! Who can pass up the chance to explain Faraday Cages and non-ionizing radiation?
1. Maintain your hardware.
I’m not talking about breaking out the air duster. I’m talking about maintaining the temple known as your body! This may induce some eye rolling as some of us look everywhere and see reminders of the toll our lifestyle may take on us. We have not yet evolved to spend hours and hours in front of a screen or hunched over a work bench. The stiffness you feel after a weekend long LAN party is only going to get worse with age. The best advice I’ve read to avoid the toll is to limit your sitting to 23.5 hours a day. You don’t need to become a fitness junkie, but you can do things like making your workspace ergonomic. Going to a gym is expensive and takes a ton of time (you may go for 30 minutes, but with traveling to and fro plus shower time, it could eat up an entire lunch break). Check out sites like Fitocracy, learn about the 7 Minute Workout to get started or check out Couch-to-5K, an introductory jogging regiment (their subreddit is extremely encouraging).