Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Geek genes vs. Levi jeans

By Joe Moore

I consider myself to be tech savvy—maybe more so than the average PC user. I believe I have geek genes. My wife has Levi jeans. She is always calling me into her office to say that there's something wrong with her PC and could I fix it. It’s usually the result of pilot error.

I wasn’t born with a geek gene. I believe I got it while in close proximity to someone who was born with it: my son. I remember TRS-80 when he passed it on to me. Many years ago, he came home from school one day with a Radio Shack TRS-80. He had traded a friend an old CB radio for it. The TRS used a TV for a monitor and had a paltry 16k of RAM. No hard drive. Storage was on an external 5.25” floppy disk or an audio cassette tape. Within a week, I got my hands on a basic word processing module and was using the computer more than my son. I wrote lots of stories with it as I dreamed of becoming a novelist.

commodor64 Being an official geek at that point, I soon grew tired of the TRS-80 and moved up to the highly advanced Commodore 64. Same external storage but a whopping 64k of RAM. Now we were getting somewhere. I found a better word processor program and kept writing more stuff. My first novel was years away, but I was on a roll.

Somewhere along the line, I learned how to use an Apple Macintosh. Built-in floppy storage and a massive 128k of RAM. I could feel the power.

applemacintoshThen I purchased a dedicated word processing device made by Magnavox called a VideoWriter. It was a computer, printer and monitor built into one unit. I wrote my first book using it--an action adventure novel set in Cuba and South Florida.

My first real, bigboy computer was a 286 made by Emerson. It had 4MB of RAM and a 40MB hard drive. Today, you can find toys in a McDonalds Happy Meal with more memory than my Emerson.

Next came a Micron which I used for many years followed by my trusty Dell 8100 which lasted 7 years. Along the way, I replaced its RAM, hard drives, fans, optical drives--just about everything but the motherboard.

xps-630Which brings us to my latest: a new Dell XPS 630. It's considered an extreme gaming machine. I don't play PC video games but I do a lot of graphics design and my old Dell just couldn't keep up with the heavy lifting needed for the newest CS3 versions of PhotoShop and InDesign. My new machine has an Intel Quad-core processor, 4 Gig of RAM, 6 fans, and a terabyte of storage. When I turn it on, it’s like the scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where the city power grid dims.

Does having geek genes help me write better novels? Probably not. But when you're a geek, it doesn't really matter. All that does matter is staying on the "bleeding edge" of technology.

So whatever happed to my son who gave me the geek gene? He went on to become a federal agent for the Department of Defense. His specialty: computer forensics.

Which do you have: geek genes or Levi jeans? What was your journey like along the techno highway to get to your current computer? And the most important question of all: Are you a MAC or a PC?

5 comments:

  1. MAC!!!!!!

    Your writing buddy,
    Lynn

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  2. Love this post, Joe! I am by gene pool both a geek (my father is a retired astrophysicist) and a Levi (mother a librarian and lifelong writer). I never considered myself to be a geek, because honestly, who can claim geek status next to a Harvard astrophysicist? All efforts pale. However, I eventually married a confirmed Levi (who once asked me to call in an electrician to change a lightbulb), and my dormant geek traits began to emerge. I've never used a MAC enough to learn its virtues, so you can call me a frustrated PC--I'm a PC who longs to be more MAC-like in style and function, but doesn't know how.

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  3. I'm not even up there with the levi gene. I think I have the 'I bought it at Target' jean gene. It totally runs in the family - no one has been anything but a Levi for generations! I have not one ounce of geek in me. I tried a MAC once and was too dumb to use it and reverted back to a PC. I know -pathetic! I once owned a palm pilot but when my husband discovered the post it notes plastered on it he told me to give it up!

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  4. I am definitely a geek. My wife sometimes even elevates me to Nerd (capital N) status.

    In High School I took computer programming and hated it, severely...my life goal was to be a Marine, or maybe a French Legionnaire. But after breaking my ankles in the Corps, I found myself doing a lot of siting around and someone gave me a Zenith/Heathkit Z80 (same as the TRS80) as well as a couple of even older CP/M computers and whamo. Within a couple of years I was building my own line of computers (company failed eventually,beat by gateway and dell...and costco, but I learned a lot) and now am a Network Manager / Admin for the government while I try to do my writing.

    Geekdom was born in me I think. As evidenced by my young addiction to the high tech Speed Racer cartoon. I just saw the movie by the way, thought it felt a lot like the original cartoon.

    Anyhow, being a techie is a great aid in this writing venture. Especially in the new era of e-books and podcasts.

    Love it.

    BTW- If you're a nerd, a geek, or a techie you'd probably love to check out xkcd.com It's a bunch of tech / nerd related cartoon strips.

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  5. I was MAC in college, PC in the legislature, and I converted back to MAC about a year ago and have never regretted it for a day. I have an iMac, a MacBook for travel, an iPod and AppleTV. I'll admit, I still use my husband's PC for PhotoShop for my ads and bookmarks because the Mac graphics programs are hugely expensive and I'd only use them for a few things . . . and I really don't want to spend all that time learning something new.

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