Saturday, August 7, 2010

64 things every geek should know

I ran across an article called "64 Things Every Geek Should Know" and I thought I'd see how I stack up. I'm going to try to look back and cross items out as I learn them, and try to learn as many as I can. But some of the things he listed are just plain stupid, so I'm disqualifying them in red. Also, this might spawn a list of my own, since I think he really missed alot of good skills, even ones that I don't know yet but know I should know.

  1. The Meaning of Technical Acronyms
    This is really ambiguous....I know quite a few terms, certainly all the ones he listed (even that P2P is supposed to be "Peer To Peer"), but there are a bit that I'm fuzzy on, or just plain don't know. There's a heckton of acronyms out there. Plus, what really counts is knowing what they do, even if you don't know how.
  2. How To Reset RAM
    Nope, I dunno it...
    [2-14-12] Initially, I thought this had something to do with the hardware, like resetting the CMOS or something. Now it looks like it's pretty much BS. First off, "reset" is a horribly wrong word since that would mean that every program you were running would crash. Secondly, the only sources I can find cite either one specific shareware program or a bogus DLL call. Thirdly, from the limited bit I know about RAM, it does not get "fragmented" like a Hard Drive, at least not in away that really cuts performance. Lastly, with how cheap RAM is nowadays, if you really have run your computer for so long that you are having RAM issues, just freaking reboot.
    Disqualified.
  3. Identify Keyloggers
    I didn't know this was that big of a deal, even for public PCs....I mean, it's either very obvious or impossible to tell. If it's like he has pictured or if it has a tray icon or even a suspicious name in the task manager, well, yeah, then it's obvious. But if it's built into the PC or software, I'd imagine it's almost impossible to tell, especially if you're talking about a public PC that's not yours. But overall, it seems like the best way to avoid keyloggers is just to not enter vital information (like logging into your online bank/Paypal account) from a public PC, period.
  4. Surf the web Anonymously
    I know a bit about Proxies, but I need to try to understand Tor.
  5. Bypass a Computer Password on All Major Operating Systems
    Definitely need to learn how to do this.
  6. Find a Users IP Address on AIM
    First off, does anyone even use AIM anymore? How old is this guide...sheesh...But anyway, glancing at the guide he linked to, it does look useful to know how to see the IP you're connected to via an instant messenger. If this works with programs like Pidgin, it will be golden. (Assuming the person I'm talking to doesn't use tip #4.)
  7. Hide a File Behind a JPEG
    I learned this a while ago, thanks to Jimmy Ruska of Jimmr.com and his Secret Cow. Thanks, Jimmy!
  8. Crack a Wifi Password
    I've looked into this with air-crack, but I could never get it working. I decided a while ago that this is definitely something I need to learn how to do eventually, but my friend showed me a Mac app that made it dirt easy, so I figured I might wait until I get a Mac.....some day....
  9. Monitor Network Traffic
    This is really vague, and I have no clue what the heck he's talking about...
  10. Recover Master Boot Record
    I believe I've done it before, but I could stand to learn more.
    [5-18-11] I've done this with FDISK (I believe), BOOTREC, and a little bit with install-mbr. I could always learn more, like the article that he linked to, but I definitely think I could recover the MBR if I needed to.
  11. Retrieve Data off Hard Drive
    I've never done this before, but the site he linked to seems very simple. It basically says try a different computer, use a Live CD, use recovery software, freeze it, or pay someone. I shadowed a friend who does data recovery as a side business, and he basically just booted into an Ubuntu live CD and copied the entire contents of the hard drive over. I would say I think I could do this pretty easily, but I won't check it off till I've actually done it.
    [5-18-11] I think I've become pretty proficient with this, especially TestDisk and Recuva and the like. Obviously I could always be better, but this is never something you go out and look for...it finds you.
  12. Load Rockbox onto an MP3 Player
    This is crap and I disqualify it. Why? Because few people have even heard of Rockbox, and it doesn't even work with most MP3 players, notably recent iPods, which is like 102.3% of the market share. All in all, I think that most geeks would not say this is something "every geek should know." (Plus, I installed it several years back and I couldn't do anything without it crashing. Oops...I was thinking of iPodLinux, which is god-awful.)
    [5-18-11] Alright so I was a little hard on this one. I was really mistaken in thinking it was iPodLinux. But it turns out Rockbox is (a) awesome and (b) supports a crapton of different MP3 players, just not PMP players. Besides, I installed this on two Sansa players, even if they created a utility that made it dirt simple
  13. Unbrick a Smartphone
    I did not even think this was possible.
    [2-14-12] A tablet, actually. So the same thing except way more $$$ on the line.
  14. Replace a Laptop Keyboard
    Nope.
  15. Rip Streaming Videos
    Again, this is ambiguous. The guy links to freaking shareware, which basically does all the work for you. If you use DownloadHelper, it's easy as pie and anyone can do it. If you're talking about more advanced things, then maybe WinPcap/Wireshark is in order. Or maybe you're talking about Hulu or Microsoft Silverlight (which might be impossible). Overall, I think this is something I'm fairly used to.
  16. Strip Windows DRM
    Again, what is he referring to? Steam's DRM'ed games? Crappy DRM'ed WMAs? Or most commonly, iTunes M4Ps? I've been stripping M4Ps forever with QTFairUse and FairUse4WM can easily strip Windows crap, if I ever find the need.
  17. Homebrew Hack Game Systems
    Really kind of vague since (A) this is per-system, and (B) companies don't like this so they try to stop it. Yeah, I would like to learn how to do a Wii Homebrew, but it's not high on my priority list because....come on, it's a Wii. What am I gonna do with a Homebrew Wii?
  18. Find a Website IP Address Without Web/Command Prompt Access
    This basically just reminded me that you can use "command.com" to start a command prompt.
  19. Bypass School or Work Website Blocks
    Does this really work (to get past filters)? Meh, it's easy enough anyway.
  20. Screw with Wifi Leeches
    I reaaaaaally want to do this.
  21. Hexadecimal and Binary Number Systems
    What does this even mean? How can you "know" hexadecimal or binary? I know about them, but do I know them?
    [5-18-11] After enduring a Digital Logic Design course, I think I can safely sa that I "know" them.
  22. How to Hot Wire a Car
    No, absolutely stupid. Good to know, but not necessary to geekdom.
  23. Increase Wifi Range
    The guide he posted is on a completely different topic. If there were ways to do this, it would be nice to know, though.
  24. Carrying a Computer Cleaning Arsenal on Your USB Drive
    Definitely. If I ever got in the habit of always keeping a flash drive on me, I would be more picky about the apps I have, but even now, I have quite a few useful ones. Also, holla at PortableApps.com!
  25. Running an Operating System from a USB Thumb Drive
    I can definitely run an OS from a thumb drive, mostly thanks to unetbootin, but also to PeToUSB. I could stand to learn a few more things better though, like actually installing to a flash drive and booting straight from an ISO (which I have a guide open right now).
  26. Understand What "There's no Place Like 127.0.0.1" Means
    Yup! Not alot to understand.
  27. Read 1337 At Normal Speed
    I can't do this. Um....is this still a geek requirement? I didn't realize it was still 1999. Stupid.
  28. At Least One Fictional Language
    There's "geek", and there's "uber-geekoid". I want to be the first one. Not to mention the fact that 99% of the fictional languages on the wiki page he links to aren't complete so you really can't "speak" in them; that leads either Star Trek languages or Tolkein languages, and I say no way to both. (Plus, I can somewhat curse in the Chinese from Firefly, so that's gotta half-count.)
  29. How to Survive in a Linux Argument
    While this is a valid point, can you say "uber vague"? He links to a (broken) page just on Linux in general. And I would actually correct it to "How to Survive in an OS Argument."
    [5-18-11] I feel like I'm kind of bragging, but I think I could "survive" at this point. Win? Maybe not, but survive at least. Besides, nobody ever really wins an OS argument, especially not on the internet.
  30. Identify Major Constellations
    No. Crap. Not necessary to a geek. I mean, how out of place does this sound to the rest of the list items?
  31. Use a Camera in Manual Mode
    This really isn't "geek-esque." If so, then I'm screwed, cause I'm not artistic at all, and that includes photography.
  32. Who Mulder and Scully Are
    This is only one show with a cultish following, not even the biggest. I know who they are, but I was born in '91, so it wasn't exactly my type of show at the time. Your argument is invalid.
  33. Javascript
    DEFINITELY. PERIOD.
  34. How to Unlock an iPhone
    I don't own an iPhone, but it is definitely something worthwhile to know. But I would also change it to "How to Unlock and Jailbreak an iPhone" even though Jailbreaking is pretty easy, it's something a geek should know, in my opinion.
    [5-18-11] Jailbroke and unlocked multiple times!
  35. How to Install Mac OS X on a PC
    I've never used a Mac for more than an hour, much less install a Hackintosh. Want to, though.
  36. Build a PC
    Definitely important enough to make the list, and I have done this, but it's still really confusing. I think I'll finally have it down after my 3rd or 4th build, so like a decade from now.
  37. Tethering a Smartphone
    Meh, it's handy. If only I had a Smartphone.
    [5-18-11] Done and done! Really really simple, at least with Android.
  38. Wiring a Home Theater System
    What is this I don't even.
  39. Replacing a Laptop LCD
    Nope! Guess this goes hand in hand with the keyboard.
  40. Make a Laptop Cooling Pad
    This seems kinda stupid, but whatever.
  41. Unleash a Laser Pointer's full potential
    This does not sound like something that a geek "should know", but it does sound fun, and I really wanna try it now.
  42. Keyboard Shortcuts
    Again, very vague. But I do need to start using shortcuts more. I may make a resolution to only use my keyboard for a week or something. A valid point indeed.
  43. Soldering Glasses Together
    This is just supposed to be funny, I guess. It's not....
  44. How to Execute a Shell Script
    I have done this before, but never remember how. Definitely handy....VITAL info in Linux.
    [5-18-11] It took me forever to learn this, but now I know. And I can do it in letters AND numbers! (huurrrr)
  45. How to Hack a Pop Machine
    Not something a geek should know. And it doesn't even work on all machines. Not that I've tried or anything...
  46. Turn a Laptop into a Digital Picture Frame
    This seems pretty stupid to me.....I can understand trying to use a Digital Picture Frame as a PC (like a second monitor), but the other way around? Why would you use a pricey laptop to doing the job of an un-pricey Picture Frame? Unless it was an old laptop....but still, I would think you could find better uses.
  47. How to Mod a Flash Drive Case
    Yea......
  48. Do Cool Things to Altoids Tins
    OK.
  49. Convert Cassette Tapes to Digital Audio Files
    While I've never done this specifically, the preface is simple and Audacity and I are pretty chummy by now. I could do it.
  50. Lock Your Computer with a USB Drive
    Very interesting....not really all that much of protection, but I can dig it. I'll give it a try one of these days.
    [5-18-11] I followed that guide and it was kinda cool. Not really that special.
  51. Run Your Own Ethernet Line
    Nope! Really need to though.
  52. Set Up a Streaming Media Server
    Does Firefly count? How about Orb? Or VLC? I think I've got this.
  53. Setting up a VPN
    Actually trying it right now. For some reason I was under the impression that VPN requires XP Professional, but I guess it doesn't. (I also think he should add VNC and/or SSH, if they don't have their own section(s).) I'm having trouble with it though.
    [5-18-11] This is a lot easier on Linux than on Windows (it seems), but it's really just entering in credentials. A few days ago, I got the VPN set up for my school....now if I could just find out how to access my network drive....
  54. Turn Webcams into Security Cameras
    I've actually seen the article he links to before. I've seen Dorgem and programs like it, and it's really not something you "know," it's just knowing and using the program. Also, my webcam sucks to much to actually capture images.
  55. Control Your House Lights with a Computer
    Buh duh wha?
  56. Play Retro Games without Retro Consoles
    Oh yeah. Sunset Riders for the Snes9x, Super Mario 64 and Super Smash Bros on Project64, and Pokemon Blue on VisualBoyAdvance. Just to name a few. I've gone all the way up through PS2, thought I could never get PCSX2 working.
  57. Put LEDs Inside a Lightbulb
    Seems more like a neat trick than a need-to-know, but whatever...
  58. Create Music with Keyboard
    There are so many better ways to create little songs, most notably MIDIs, even without a MIDI controller. I would rank Mario Paint Composer above this software. (Oh, and it's definitely not something every geek should know.)
  59. Make Your Office Ergonomic
    I'm far too lazy to do something like this, no matter how good it might be for me.
  60. Adding a Third Monitor
    I still need to spring for a second monitor...
  61. How to Convert a DVD to x264 (or XviD or DivX)
    Handbrake FTW.
  62. Flash System BIOS
    I think I even did this with my EEE, and I still don't know how to do it.
    [2-14-12] Ok I know I've done this now.
  63. How to Irrecoverably Protect Data
    Truecrypt FTW.
  64. The Fastest way to Kill a Computer
    I must've been hanging around too many Linux forums, because the first thing that popped into my head was "Install Windows."
So lets see my score, as of [May 18 2011]:
28 Learned
11 Disqualified
25 Remaining

Let's get to work.
-Bry

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