Sunday, January 31, 2010

Geek Humor

In my quest to be recognized as one amongst them and get baptized as a Geek, I have been trying a lot of things to attain tech-nirvana. Besides reading tech blogs all day long, I have also been reading geeky comics for a while now. So for all you people who are also on my path (to salvation!), here is a list of geekiest comics in the increasing order of their geekiness from your fellow wanna-be.

  1. Dilbert – This is like the first comic a noob is supposed to read, understand and appreciate. If you don’t know Dilbert, or you don’t find it funny then you can’t even start your journey. Of course, Dilbert is not techie, its just office humor, but yeah you start here. Period.
  2. Joy-of-tech – Lets face it. Being a techie without knowing or appreciating Apple is like being an Indian and not knowing who is Gandhi. So this is where I fail miserably. I still don’t own a single Apple product, and I don’t think I am that fascinated by the iPad either. Joy-of-tech is like a comic strip for Apple fan-boys (err.. sorry, I meant Apple fan-girls) and you have to read it to be there!

    Joy of Tech 

    This is where it starts getting tougher. My success rate with understanding the comics listed now onwards is still not 100%. All three comics use “alt attribute” on the image to convey more information about the joke. I do however love most of them, and the ones that I don’t get I ask Google :) !

  3. Abstruse Goose – This is quite geeky and at times you need to know what is happening around in the world, along with a bit of mathematics, statistics, cryptography and anything else an average geek is supposed to know and enjoy!Our brains didn't evolve to allow us to do higher mathematics.  That ability came only after our alien overlords genetically engineered us that way.

  4. Geek & Poke – This comic was a chance discovery, but I really love it a lot. Also it is amongst the most regularly updated geeky comics I read, and is really funny!


  5. xkcd – This comic had to make this list. It was a no brainer. However, it is the most geekiest comic on my list, cause I am still not upto the level to understand all the jokes that this comic has. But persistence pays off, and one day I shall be there :) !!  I especially love the warning at the bottom of the comic which goes - “this comic occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors).”

    Some engineer out there has solved P=NP and it's locked up in an electric eggbeater calibration routine.  For every 0x5f375a86 we learn about, there are thousands we never see.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I participated in a Business plan competition recently and one of the “optional” requirements (never figured out what that really means!) were to make a “video” explaining the idea! Explaining tech concepts in a 3 minute video is never easy. My friend suggested that I should get inspired by the Common-craft videos and make one like them.

If you gals ;) have never seen a common-craft video before, I suggest that you see this video explaining Twitter now..

Making a similar video was more difficult than I expected it to be. To start with, I had to come up with a story line which was easy to understand and at the same time gave you an idea of what the business idea (product) is all about. I had named my idea as “Re-connect”. Then to narrate the story line I had to make all those card paper cut-outs as props. And finally I had to take help from someone to move those props into the video as I narrated the story.

The tools that I used were:

  1. My hand-held digital camera a Fujifilm Finepix f100fd.
  2. A Gorillapod to hold my camera steady in between shots. The Gorillapod is very useful for mounting the camera at awkward angles.
  3. Windows movie maker for editing and combining all the small video clips that I had taken
  4. Audacity to do some basic sound editing and have background music in the clip

The entire 3:17 minute video took more than 12 hours in the making. I think less than 4 hours of it were spent in actually shooting the video. Rest of it was spent drawing the cut-outs, fiddling with my software and then finally editing the video!

And why am I putting it on my blog you ask? Well, the video proved to be too long for most people and many people walked out on me while watching it. We are an entire population of people with the Attention Deficit Disorder (That’s my way of consoling myself that the video wasn’t really boring :D !! ) So now I am putting the video out here so that my hard work doesn’t go waste :) !!

And if you are wondering why my hands look so good, well err .. umm they are girly hands. The person who helped me doesn’t want me to reveal her name on the blog post but if you dig around enough you can find her name (Elementary my dear Watson ;) !). The voice definitely belongs to me (you can hear the distinct bray at times!). And the “Re-connect” logo was used with permission from this blog.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hey gals!

So now Mark Shuttleworth lands up in a mess because he refers to programmers in general as "guys".And then he refers to naive Linux users as moms and grand moms rather than dads and grand dads :) !! Haha and the feminists around the world term him as a male chauvinist and he draws a lot of flak for a relatively harmless statement!

During my MBA I realized that all textbook authors make it a point to label all third party references to people as women. So if a sentence goes "And if the manager wanted a report, she could ..blah blah" or “Your customer is important. You cant let her walk away that easily… blah blah”. The point is, every single person in textbooks these days is a woman just so that the author is not labeled a sexist.

Now, I bet most of ya folks have the habit of referring to everyone as "Hey guys!" in general, even when you don't specifically mean them to be "guys" (as in men!). However, I have resolved that from now on, I shall start my emails with "Hey gals" even if there is not a single trace of a gal in the group :) !! This is in addition to my earlier resolution that everything I possess shall be of the feminine gender.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Lip-syncing idiot

I have discovered that I love to sing along with the music that I listen to. Earlier in my life however I have also figured that I have been blessed with a voice that can make a donkey’s braying sound more melodious (for people who haven’t ever heard a donkey bray or heard me sing (I pity you!) .. here is a YouTube video for you!)

So to not subject people around me to the atrocity of listening to me bray, I have learnt to lip-sync to the songs that I love to sing along, at times putting in all the emotions to add effect :) !! So if its a love song, my face goes all animated and if its a metal song I play the air guitar and head bang :) !! The kid in the video gets all animated about AC/DC’s TNT

The last decade of my life, these antics were limited to the places that I heard music to – in my shower, in my room, and most of the times in my beloved car. But times have changed and the only place where I get to listen to music now is in the friendly MRT. That reminds me, the trains over here don’t swing as much as our local trains in India do. So people can stand close to each other without holding onto the handles (which means no smelling armpits :) !!).

The problem of being all animated and lip-syncing in the MRT is that people not only stare at me, but at times in crowded MRTs, I get extra space to perform my antics. Haha, I bet most of them consider me to be a special child. Not that I am complaining ….

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Geek Pornography

Disclaimer:The blog remains PG-13 in 2010!! So before you roll your eyes and go complaining to your mom, read on!

pornography [pawr-nog-ruh-fee] (noun) – The graphic, detailed, often gratuitous depiction of something.

This blog-post is education for the non and the wanna-be geeks amongst us. Over the period of several years of reading blogs online I have realized that there are two specific types of videos that geeks seem to derive pleasure out of. I finally decided to classify them out here just so that next time when I am “caught” watching YouTube videos, you realize that I am just satisfying my carnal instincts :)

1) Unboxing ritual – Unboxing is like slowly undressing (strip teasing?) a gadget from its packing (box). The more elegantly you do it, the more amazing it looks. This ritual is good for people who don’t get to use the latest gadget till it enters its second or third generation (people like me! I still ogle the iPhone!) To borrow a quote from a website that explains this routine more explicitly “It's stuff that you're lusting over – you can't have it, but you want it.” And for people who can’t get enough of it, there is a whole website dedicated to see unboxing all day and all night!!

Here is a gallery of the new Nook being unboxed. And a video for your viewing pleasure:

And here is a funny unboxing that Samsung put together for its Omnia i900

2) Teardown – Teardown is the art of opening up a gadget right down to the basic components that it is made of, so that (this is very important) you can put it back again and start using it! Well I have done this since I was 2. But the main part of doing a proper teardown is – you should be able to put it back again in mint condition so that you can actually “use” the tore down device again in your life! The first teardown that I did was that of my dad’s Sharp pocket calculator, and I could still see the broken keys in my room drawer a couple of years down the line, cause I had literally “torn” it down! People interested in doing a tear down at the minimum should go and buy a set of precision screwdrivers and a swiss knife right now. Without it you can’t really do anything!

Here is an amazing photo of a Canon S500 completely tore down. You can read step by step instructions here.

 Canon S500 Teardown

Finally, before I end this blog-post I would like to announce that Gadget blending is NOT a type of geek pornography. It is more like an abuse, and it really bleeds our hearts. There are millions of us out there who are hungry without a Digital SLR and then you go and mercilessly blend those gadgets? I call for immediate boycott of this ruthless atrocity. It has caused me (and I bet a lot of other people) restless nights and serious mental problems ;)

Here is a video of the Olympus camera devices being blended. Warning, it is highly graphical and I would not recommend seeing if you have heart problems ;) !!

So coming back to my original topic … I haven’t exactly figured out what makes unboxing and teardown so interesting. But well, err.. umm to put it bluntly, unboxing is pretty damn exciting. And I would like to thank all of you (especially my friends who take me along to buy new tech stuff!) for having given me that pleasure so often :) !!