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The REAL curse of the geek.

By priestess in Op-Ed
Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 03:11:46 PM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)

When people come to visit me in my flat, they're afraid to turn on the TV because it's half in bits and doesn't respond as you'd expect. Wires snake along the walls in confusing and complex webs, nothing in the flat quite works properly.

This is the real curse of the geek, to spend a life fascinated by technology and yet surrounded by half broken versions of it.

The problem is this: When I get my hands on something and it doesn't work exactly how I'd like, or even exactly how you'd expect, or at all, I can usually manage to just hack around the problem. I can get it to just work, even if this means I have to fudge around with wires and adapters and software and even string,duct-tape and a soldering iron.

Once the tech does it's job, however shoddily, there seems very little point in replacing it, or returning it, or finishing off the job of fixing it.

An example: My TV set. It doesn't quite work properly. The audio is completely shot. It has been since I brought the set second hand. I should have probably carried the thing back to the second hand shop and returned it or made them repair it but no. It's too heavy, besides I wanted to see the show that evening. I could probably plug my computer's speakers into the audio socket and see how that works... No, the audio's knackered before that point. I know, the audio out from the cable-decoder! Yay!

I spent a month meaning to take that TV set back and now it's definitely too late so I'm stuck having to switch and swap plugs and wires every time I want to turn the computer on. And I can't watch anything without using the cable box. And I have to turn off THREE units to turn off my TV, the speakers, the cable-box and the set itself.

My whole house is like this. My DVD player has to be screwed around with to get it to work, my stereo skips and jumps unless you treat it just right, my computer's case is (obviously) never attached and every time I want to use a new bit of hardware I have to screw around with incompatible drivers and things.

The other day a friend arrived at my flat just as I was going for a shower (you have to be careful with my shower, naturally, or you fill the bathroom with water) so I asked her to wait up for a while for me. When I'd finished I found her sat staring at the walls having tried, and failed, to get my TV set to turn on. It wasn't her fault, I'd been using the cable for something else so it needed re-plugging and tuning again, the speakers were plugged into the computer again anyway....

Is it just me or do all geeks live like this, reveling in tech but knowing just enough about it so that nothing ever works quite right?


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


My stuff works
o 100% of the time 13%
o 75-99% of the time 63%
o 50-75% of the time 15%
o 25-50% of the time 3%
o 0-25% of the time 3%

Votes: 80
Results | Other Polls

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The REAL curse of the geek. | 40 comments (38 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
Geeks and their toys.... (3.33 / 3) (#2)
by Elkor on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 12:17:48 PM EST

I have a TV that seems similar to yours. The sound doesn't work. I haven't gotten around to finding out if it is the speakers or something else. Currently it sits in the spare bedroom, not even hooked up. I'll get around to it some day...

Fortunately the TV we actually watch works much simpler. There is a power outlet in the back of the cable box that the TV is plugged into. When the cable box is turned off, the outlet power cuts off and the TV turns off as well.

So, I need to to turn two things on, but only one thing off.

I tend to play around with tech that doesn't work, get something that kinda works, get bored with it and either give it away, throw it away, or shove it into a drawer when I replace it with something that does work.


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
Hey, my stuff works perfectly! (3.66 / 6) (#4)
by fluffy grue on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 12:40:28 PM EST

Like, when I want to watch TV on my rigged 80" projection screen, I only have to turn on my stereo, turn on a power strip which controls an overhead projector, LCD panel, and various power supplies rigged up for cooling, wait a few seconds for the firmware in the panel to initialize, set my stereo to the 'VCR' input, turn on my VCR, change the channel, and then fiddle with the antenna until I actually get some reception! Easy!

Er, wait a minute.

And I don't appreciate you typecasting geeks as having a lot of semi-functional hardware and computers with the covers off! Except I'm always futzing with my computers and I never bother putting the covers back on... and I have three computers I regularly use to begin with, one of which is cobbled together from spare parts, one of which never seems to have a working CD or floppy drive... at least my workstation always works! When I'm not fucking around with broken Linux drivers, anyway.

Hm. At first I voted this -1 thinking, "No, it's just you," but... I guess I'm mistaken. ;)
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]

Yep, similarites. (3.50 / 2) (#6)
by xrayspx on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 12:54:39 PM EST

The sound on my TV died badly also. So I ran the sound out from the VCR to the stereo. Then the power switch died. So crack it open and make it "always on", and turn it off via the cable box. But when you turn the cable box (thus the TV) on, it comes back on the wrong channel, 2 not 3, so you have to change that, manually of course.

So you have to have the cable box, VCR and stereo running, and everything must of course be switched right (stereo must have VCR input selected, etc). Therefore no one has ever been able to watch my TV but me. Add to that the 3 remotes required. Which was the one thing I ever solved completely by getting a universal.

Of course, if I'm playing video games, I want that to go through my stereo, so ... No TV or CDs while playing games. Which required another whole set of cables.

Ack. Never really thought about how bad this all was until now. Thanks. Really. A lot.

"I see one maggot, it all gets thrown away" -- My Wife
Wow I'm glad I'm not the only one like this! (3.50 / 4) (#5)
by starbreeze on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 12:54:39 PM EST

I think partly it comes with being a money-conscious or just plain poor geek. I'm always convinced I can fix stuff or enhance it. And I end up with strangely working technology. My room is so wired you can't plug in the hair dryer in the bathroom without shutting off something in my room first, or you'll blow a circuit.

"There's something strangely musical about noise." ~Trent Reznor

Cable problem (3.75 / 4) (#7)
by weirdling on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 01:01:48 PM EST

I have a relatively modern TV that works. I have a refurbished DVD that is incredibly good but skips every so often. I have a Mac 8500 that has been upgraded way beyond usefulness and has developed heat problems, so its cover is off 24x7. I have an Athlon that I'm constantly futzing with, so its cover is off 24x7. I can't use my cell phone in that room. Yay for cable, or I couldn't watch TV.
Problem is that I use the Mac for MP3s and video capture, so sometimes I want video and audio going into it and sometimes out, the TV has two RCA jacks, which when in TV mode are both stereo out, and when in monitor mode, one is composite video, the other monaural, which sucks, so when the TV is in monitor mode, I'd like to direct audio to the stereo, which, naturally, has only one auxilliary input, currently in use by the Mac. No problem; simply remove Mac, put in TV. Then run composite out of DVD to TV with completely different set of RCA cables.
It's getting to the point that I have to change at least three wires every time I want to do something. So, I'm going to buy a bunch of relays and create a switching system that will do what I want. Of course, I intend to never put a cover on it, and of course, it will never work quite right...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
Heat (3.00 / 1) (#22)
by delmoi on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 03:26:42 PM EST

Computer systems, for the most part, will run cooler with the case on then off (assuming intelegent design).
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Unless you put the harddrives outside the case (none / 0) (#23)
by weirdling on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 03:27:47 PM EST

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Absolutely (3.33 / 3) (#8)
by drivers on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 01:02:50 PM EST

When I want to watch DVDs I move my monitor, power strip, computer case, mouse, keyboard, three-part computer speakers, and wire it all up. Then when I want to use the computer I move it all back again.

Then, I have two different computers. One for Linux (made from parts replaced by upgrades from the other computer), one for Windows (all the good stuff for gaming). When I had DSL I was thinking of making one a game server (for Quake 3 or Unreal Tournament). Of course I don't want to actually have two monitors or anything so when I want to switch between them I switch the monitor cable and move the mouse/keyboard set out of the way (I have two of each). Fortunately, my speakers have two audio inputs. I also move the modem between the computers depending on which computer I want to get on the internet with.

I also think "patchy" is a pretty good description of the state of my Linux software configuration. It's always easier to make do than to make it easier.

You need... (4.00 / 1) (#12)
by deefer on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 01:35:46 PM EST


Works fine for me...

Or get a KVM switch.

Kill the baddies.
Get the girl.
And save the entire planet.

[ Parent ]

yes, VNC (4.00 / 1) (#21)
by delmoi on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 03:15:03 PM EST

I agree with deefer. I've got a little Linux box setup with VNC and when I want to use I just pop it up in a window on, well, windows.

It helps that I've got a dual-input monitor and a kb swich to play around with for setting things up, though.
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Or... (none / 0) (#33)
by Nurgled on Sat Jul 14, 2001 at 08:03:21 AM EST

...or, a win32 X server. A bit less hackish, (that might be a bad thing in some people's opinions) and it does integrate with your Windows apps a little better, depending on which one you choose.

[ Parent ]
My non geek friends (3.25 / 4) (#9)
by pallex on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 01:05:04 PM EST

complain that stuff never works though!
Why does windows crash so often?
Why is this game so slow (meaning update rate, talking about a pc game with a 3d card older then last summer)?

its not limited to geeks, its just what you get when companies with insufficient testing departments (or respect for their customers) rush shoddy products to market.

I know people who live out in the sticks and who have ovens in their kitchens that look like tanks, and which have worked for 20 or 30 years, and which also act as heaters. Radios and hifi from the 70`s which still works perfectly. It seems that crap-production was ramped up massively sometime in the late 80`s or so, and so now we just expect to pay well over the odds for tacky rubbish which is lucky to survive a year or 2!

So its not just geeks who have to put up with this, its everyone!

Partially (3.00 / 1) (#11)
by priestess on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 01:15:39 PM EST

its not limited to geeks, its just what you get when companies with insufficient testing departments (or respect for their customers) rush shoddy products to market.
I guess that's a problem too, though I suspect that most people would take their faulty equipment back and get a replacement/refund rather than screwing around with it, invalidating the guarentee, and struggle all night to get it half working rather than bother to carry it back where it came from.

Not having a car could be part of my problem, if I could just drive it to the shop to get it replaced I'd be more likely to, but lugging a huge TV onto the tube with me sounds like more hell than the strings-and-duct-tape world I'm living in.


My Mobile Phone Comic-books business
[ Parent ]
Except... (4.00 / 1) (#24)
by topham on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 04:11:48 PM EST

I hate to argue too much on the point, but... Just because you know someone with a stove which is working after 20 years, with a radio older than the first commandment, etc does NOT actually mean it was of higher quality. It means, of the 200,000 built, atleast 1 still works.

My father was greatfull for getting a TV that didn't have vacuum tubes. Why? Because he was constantly replacing them. Now you can expect a tv will last 5-10 years without any maintenance of any kind.

But when it does fail you might have to replace the whole thing instead of a part...

[ Parent ]

The solution to this problem.. (4.20 / 5) (#10)
by ignatiusst on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 01:11:27 PM EST

Marriage is a wonderful cure (if somewhat extreme) for this problem..

I used to live in an apartment with my broken toys that worked only with a good dose of electrical tape and a prayer. Then I got married.

My wife has this way of looking at me, you see, whenever I start tearing something apart to make it work (or, worse, to make it work better) that makes my skin crawl and my fingers tremble...

It is my goal to someday have enough money to buy two of everything.. one for the house and another for the radio shack.

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift

The look (4.00 / 2) (#39)
by asqui on Tue Jul 17, 2001 at 11:50:48 PM EST

Is it the "You're going to put that back together and it's going to work the same way it did before if not better, right?" look.. there's just that sort of unspoken projection of her wielding some form of painful weapon in the (more than likely) event that you bust it :)

I'd have to agree with you there.. The cure is basically living with someone who demands user-friendly devices. Sure us geeks can tinker and tweak to our hearts content and are quite happy to leave the device strewn across 3 rooms and 2 hallways in the house, because we know how it works now and we don't need the dinky interface it came with to use it,.. however,.. if someone else needs to use it, it's gotta be user-friendly.. there's your motivation to put the thing back together again and (hopefully) with no left over pieces :)

People who live in stucco houses shouldn't throw quiche.
[ Parent ]
Coolness... (3.00 / 2) (#13)
by deefer on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 01:57:07 PM EST

That's what gets us nerds going.

We'll fiddle with the cool stuff, because that's the stuff that blows our hair back. Screw the mundane, we want cutting edge, custom kit and environments. Of course, we delude ourselves that after the next cool hack, we'll attend to the trivialities. But we put up with the minor irritations (I've seen a lot of cabling related postings here already), becuase we know that we'll fix them once we've played with the cool stuff. Only more cool stuff keeps rolling on; we can fix what's there, or play with the newest thing...

Like when I installed the NextStep clone windows manager at work. Played with it, didn't like it, back to explorer. Now netscape refuses to run, so I have to use Mozilla (v1.0 NOW, please, please, please!!!)... I've reapplied service packs, scrubbed registry entries, the whole shebang. Of course, in the meantime, I've tweaked my development environment to include loads of weird and wonderful components, so I don't want to do a full NT install... So I'm waiting for the W2K rollout that's planned; more new toys to play with...

Out of the 3 PC's I've got, only one has the case on it. But it's not screwed on, though...

This article was scarily applicable to me, and a few other people I know. This weekend - should I play with FreeSco or tidy up the rats' nest of cables going into the PC's on my desk?

I'll bet you know exactly what I'll be doing Sunday if you're really a nerd...

Kill the baddies.
Get the girl.
And save the entire planet.

s (3.00 / 1) (#14)
by your_desired_username on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 02:02:37 PM EST

Once I installed a new video card while a non-linux using friend was watching. During the process I discovered I'd added 3 extra xservers (for a total 4) to my /etc/X11/Xservers file. The new video card had severe problems with this - I got garbage on the screen, and could not make X respond to keyboard commands (meaning I could not change vcs). I had to reboot my machine to a grub prompt, add a boot single user option, boot into single user mode, and cut the offending 4 lines from the file.

But I've never owned a busted tv. Or a working tv. :-)

tower of babel (3.66 / 3) (#15)
by ajaxx on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 02:07:00 PM EST

the corrolary to this is that all your stuff is always connected in a great complex quivering mass that makes complete sense to you, because you set it up, but utterly defeats anyone else who tries to use it.

as an example, my audio gear. two turntables into the crossfader; crossfader, CD changer, sound card and TV into the EQ/switch; EQ into the stereo head, stereo head out to bookshelf speakers and occasionally using the headphone out into the bass amp that serves as a subwoofer. the stereo head is also an AM/FM receiver (that i never use, i dislike the radio here); the sound card can get input from either the CD drive or from esd (which can get input from anything); and of course the crossfader has a half-dozen more inputs (varying amounts of mic, phono and line), two headphone sends and two more unused amp sends.

it works, and well enough to irk the neighbors, but everyone is afraid to go near it. the complexity will only rise when i get a sampler, probably taking it's input from one of the (two, unused) recording sends on the EQ (which can conveniently be either pre- or post-eqing) and feeding back into the crossfader. why do we torture ourselves so.

geek aesthetes (3.50 / 2) (#16)
by Speare on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 02:22:52 PM EST

Then you have the geek aesthetes, who don't LIKE inelegant solutions. A television that's cracked open is only a beta, only a shadow of the potential of the device. A web server that only handles .html files is merely an exercise in proving the general mechanism.

To me, you've got to make it slick. Evolve the design from the core features. Package it with icons that are attractive and consistent, or a plastic case that's not going to let my daughter stuff peanut butter into it.

I like the Cobalt Qube, because it fills the technology niche without being butt-fugly. Yes, I paid for slick and I paid for appliance-ease-of-use. Those were worth some cash. I have stuffed it in a closet in a milk crate for now, but that milk crate beckons to me every time I see it... clean it up! get a shelf unit that doesn't suck!

I don't snake cables around the house, I get a wireless access unit to make roaming possible. I don't start a project that will make a mess unless I know I can complete it in such a way as to make LESS mess.

If I'm going to live in a world with people AND technology, I want them to coexist. I arrange my desk and my office for human/technology cohabitation.

[ e d @ h a l l e y . c c ] spare time? know java? earn cash
It's true of any profession (3.75 / 4) (#17)
by MSBob on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 02:25:03 PM EST

Well almost any. For instance did you ever notice that most car mechanics drive the crapiest cars out there. Surely they are in the position to find themselves vehicles that are excellent value for money. But no, almost all of them buy incredible junk and then take it and tweak it and fiddle with it - "tune performance" as they say. I think every hands on job tends to breed this type.
I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

Not really (3.00 / 1) (#31)
by fluffy grue on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 07:30:39 PM EST

I was talking to a mechanic about this once (he was giving me a courtesy ride back to campus after I dropped my car off there). I noticed that his car needed the same kind of brake work that mine did (and then some), and his response was, "Yeah, but you know, mechanics never work on their own cars."

It's like the shaving-barber paradox.
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

That's not the curse of the Geek (3.66 / 3) (#18)
by Jive Billy on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 02:33:49 PM EST

What you've described is one of the things that make us geeks. It's hardly a curse, unless you accidently fry someone.

The real geek curse is the fact that despite boasting some of the richest people in the world as part of our group, we're still perceived as greasy, smelly anti-socials, avoided by women like we carry the plague, the butt of most movie jokes.

Curse (3.00 / 1) (#20)
by priestess on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 03:07:01 PM EST

Well, okay, perhaps the word curse is hyperbole, there is a certain strange irony that so many of us who love and help develop the most advanced consumer tech around are stuck at home with gadgets which barely work because they've been 'fixed' and 'optimised'.

The word REAL was in there precicely to distinguish from the classic geek curse which you described. There is nothing particually contridictory about being rich and being smelly and anti-social though of course.


My Mobile Phone Comic-books business
[ Parent ]
There are female geeks too. (3.50 / 2) (#38)
by asqui on Tue Jul 17, 2001 at 11:39:46 PM EST

Please don't make the assumption that all geeks are straight males :) There are female geeks too. Gay geeks, bisexual geeks, straight geeks, blue geeks, green geeks, yellow, red and purple geeks.

You get the idea :)
People who live in stucco houses shouldn't throw quiche.
[ Parent ]
Female Geeks (none / 0) (#40)
by Kat Goodwin on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 08:54:20 AM EST

Indeed. In fact, some of us consider ourselves geeks in many senses and yet never feel the urge to tamper with obselete/state of the art gadgetry! But on the point, geeks do come in many different shapes and sizes, even to the extent that some of us might not even look/seem like geeks to the casual observer!

[ Parent ]
My problem is early adoption (3.00 / 2) (#19)
by GusherJizmac on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 02:40:18 PM EST

I tend to have a lot of gadgets and technology that other people don't use (yet). My apartment makes use of: TiVo, X10 Lighting, and the phillips uber-programmable touchscreen remote. Basically, everything is set up for maximum efficiency for me.

Recently I had a friend come to stay with me for a while. She's not a geek and doesn't find fascination with "cool gadgets". I had to give her a tutorial on how to use my remote and how to use TiVo. I felt pretty silly, but I think that's one of the curses of being a geek.
<sig> G u s h e r J i z m a c </sig>

You did WHAT? (3.66 / 3) (#25)
by BOredAtWork on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 04:32:14 PM EST

Normally I don't take cheap shots... but this one's too good to pass up :-).

"Dude, you had a girl at your place, and got naked in another room while she tried to watch TV? Speaking of curses of geeks..."

Ok, I'm sorry. Just had to say it...

I'm not sure... (2.50 / 2) (#32)
by loualbano on Sat Jul 14, 2001 at 06:22:29 AM EST

...but priestess might also be a girl.

[ Parent ]
So? (none / 0) (#37)
by Funky Fresh on Mon Jul 16, 2001 at 02:39:34 PM EST

What's wrong with that? ;-)

[ Parent ]
All-in-one (none / 0) (#26)
by keenan on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 04:54:43 PM EST

I can empathise, but for a different reason. I don't have a TV, DVD or stereo, but have my computer configured so that it works as everything. Stick a CD or DVD in and it plays, turn on the TV Tuner software and watch television. I have my synthesizer connected via MIDI and I use my computer as an alarm clock -- I schedule it to play a random MP3 from my favorites if I ever need to get up early.

It took me ages to get the TV going on there though -- ended up having to install beta software for Win2K which I've found isn't the most reliable -- sometimes switching to my VCR will hang the program, but I live with it.

I have all the programs activated with hotkeys, but some people who come over think of it as strange. I like having everything integrated and it saves space.


Bleh, hardware bores me.... (3.00 / 1) (#27)
by delmoi on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 05:15:04 PM EST

I've really gotten sick of messing around with PC hardware. I just dont enjoy it. I doubt I'll ever buy a whole PC from a vendor like Dell or Gateway, but for me the only joy in building a box is having it. Didn't use to be like that, but it is now.

I wonder if I'm the exception here. A lot of you are describing jacked up riggs, and such, my PC/Sound system is nothing like that. When I first moved into the dorms I set everything I could watch TV on the PC at the same time as the video, I had two VCRs in series and dolby digital sorround.. The only 'hackish' thing I had were some cardbard speaker cases I made by hand (each with a 100 watt woofer and tweeter).

My system has never reached it's 'grand potential' like that again, and there are a few things that don't work (webcam locks up after a while, TV card dosn't work in win2k) but most of the things I commonly use (TV which I rearely watch is just a few button presses away, as are my playstation and saturn).

I don't know, maybe I'm just a freak, but I prefer things to be at least somewhat convinent, and I'm willing to pay for it two. oh well.
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
Ditto (3.00 / 1) (#28)
by dasunt on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 05:21:52 PM EST

I have 5 computer cases in my home, the oldest being a 286 (no, they never go out of style, yes, please, can someone tell me something to do with it...), cords everywhere, half-broken pieces of electrical equipment everywhere, and a huge, old, 25" tv. (Which has wavy lines on it, need to degauss, I think, but haven't checked up on how).

Just find a really understanding significant other. I did. :) And remember to surround yourself with people who love das blinkenlights...

What to do with that 286 (4.00 / 1) (#29)
by flameboy on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 06:49:40 PM EST

Well you could install minix on that old 286.. or one of the many dos's and run it as a terminal, a old school games machine (ahh streetrod). Or you could see if novell netware really will run on the absolute minimum hardware specs. =P

[ Parent ]
it's just you... (none / 0) (#30)
by taruntius on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 07:27:10 PM EST

My house and just about everything in it, works fine. The only problem my guests have is a common one--too damn many remotes.

--Believing I had supernatural powers I slammed into a brick wall.
Not quite there yet (none / 0) (#34)
by CrayDrygu on Sat Jul 14, 2001 at 06:10:57 PM EST

My stuff works, at least, but I still have a few wires running around =)

My TV, for example. It's a cheap little 13" TV/VCR, but it suits my needs fine. It has such a crappy little speaker, though, that I got fed up and ran a cable from its headphone jack to my sound card (my computer has those Creative/Cambridge Soundworks PC Works speakers). I use the same cable to plug into my little stereo when I want the radio on (which isn't often). And then there's the video cable running back from my PC to the TV so I can play DVDs on it. (The matrix sucks on a tiny screen...it's in ultra-widescreen, so the picture's like 3 inches tall.) As soon as I can find a way to effectively combine two audio outputs into one, I'm gonna run another cable from my second PC into this one. I don't use it often, so it's not worth getting another set of speakers for. My PC is like audio central for this room. The only thing I haven't figured out how to hook up to it is my telephone, but I don't like speakerphones much anyway, and I don't have a microphone. Though, I have considered getting a voice modem and using my PC as an answering machine.

I've got a mess of electrical cables, too. PC, monitor, speakers, printer, external modem, space heater, fan, TV, radio, playstation, PC2, monitor 2, network hub, lava lamp... At least they're not all plugged into the same outlet now, though (I finally bought an extention cord and ran it from an outlet on the other side of the room).

*ahem* Okay...enough rambling. =)

One of the things they don't tell you... (4.00 / 1) (#35)
by tapir on Sun Jul 15, 2001 at 09:25:02 PM EST

... is that innovation is the enemy of quality.

It's true -- although an advanced industrial soceity will say anything to deny it.

There's no theoretical reason why we couldn't make a plastic that lasts for 1000 years. The main problem is that we can't test a plastic for 1000 years to confirm that it really will last that long -- and no form of "accelerated testing" is close enough to reality to be useful.

Same problem with nuclear power. The great fear about nuclear power isn't the little accidents where somebody drops a fuel rod on the floor, but the big ones... Now, somebody might do a study and say that a Chernobyl-type accident would happen once in 100,000 reactor years, but there's no way to directly confirm that without building a large number of reactors and operating them for a long time. What if the study is wrong? Big insurance companies worry -- they won't write policies for the monsters unless the government picks up the tab for accidents that do more than $500 million in damage.

In the economic boom we saw a vast increase in the diversity of products offered for sale. The trouble is that they were all new -- and something new is something that hasn't been tested. So that's where we get the cell phones and DVD players that don't work, the designer clothes that get a three-sided tear a week after you buy them, and the genetically modified corn that makes people sick.

Now, if you're an "early adopter", one of those people who have to try everything new as soon as they come out, you're going to be the one who gets burned. If you wait, or if you just decide that you don't want a cell phone and a DVD player and that you don't need to run IE 7.55.2b, you won't have so many problems.

I can make it work like *I* want it to. . . (4.00 / 1) (#36)
by Dromio on Mon Jul 16, 2001 at 11:30:58 AM EST

Yes, I am cursed as well. My girlfriend knows I'm "obsessed", and is fairly understanding, but it seems every other day she has to ask why something quit working.

My problem is not that things do not work as I got them, it's that I can imagine them working *better*. She loves Audiogalaxy, but I hate how files are named poorly, have bad ID3 tags, etc. So I begin hacking a script to autmatically correct these problems and sort the files in a nice, clean directory structure. Works great, most of the time :). But she's often frustrated she can't find the songs she just downloaded because my script magically swept them away to somewhere she did not expect.

And god, the cables! Cables! Where is this wireless world I was promised??

The REAL curse of the geek. | 40 comments (38 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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