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Monday
Dec052011

Nerds vs Geeks

In my line of work, the words 'nerd' and 'geek' are often heard. In most cases, the terms are used to reflect respect and endearment, rather than a put-down. But the words can be used with unclear reference and often are mixed up in meaning. Not surprisingly, my prized 1956 Second Edition Webster's English Dictionary is unclear on the subject. This is mostly due to the fact that neither word exists within its 2,127 definitional pages. So, let's take a shot at it ourselves, shall we...

In my mental dictionary, the terms both have a relationship to technical prowess. Even my Mom uses them in my reference, and Mom would never say anything nasty to me, so they have to be a positive thing, right? They both have a reference to over-achievement and knowledge, but they aren't exactly the same.

To sort this all out, I suggest we turn to the one true source of indisputable knowledge....the entertainment industry.

A decade ago, Comedy Central ran a game show called "Beat the Geeks". It was a fairly basic trivia quiz show that featured contestants matching wits with individuals (the 'Geeks') who possessed exceptional knowledge in a specific area such as: music, movies, or television. This definition strayed beyond the technical, indicating that geeks could exist beyond the computer industry.

The term 'nerd' is said to have originated in the 1950 Dr. Seuss book "If I Ran the Zoo". Its meaning quickly became associated with awkwardness and social incompetence. In the 1984 movie "Revenge of the Nerds", a group of college friends banded together against their stereotypical nerdiness, to rise up against the cool kids and jocks of the school. I won't spoil the entire movie plot for you, as I'm sure it's on your must-see list.

In the intersection of nerd and geek, Ashton Kutcher co-produced a show called "Beauty and the Geek", which partnered intellectually but not socially strong males with their inverse (socially gifted, but not intellectually gifted females). The premise was to work through tasks as a couple while learning the life lesson that we're all basically the same, and stereotypes shouldn't dominate our views of each other. The show had a multi-season run, and was surprisingly interesting. The geeks specialized in areas from medicine, to computers, to chess, proving once again that geeks come with a wide range of specialties.

So, while there is an overlap between nerd and geek, particularly in the technical disciplines, nerds tend to lean towards social awkwardness, while geeks tend to lean towards deep domain expertise. Both are handy to have around. Both need your love and respect. Both could use a bit more balance in their lives. I'm not particularly sensitive to either one. I'll answer to both. But say it in a nice way, or I'll hack into your mobile phone and post your drunken New Years Eve party pictures to your Facebook account.

(image courtesy of xkcd.com)

   Don

Sunday
Nov202011

Blue Jays Again

The Blue Jays are back!

It was hard to see this once powerful Canadian baseball franchise slip from its roots, as a representative of Canada, to the hip single-word moniker of simply "Jays". I liked the maple leaf on the logo. I liked the splashes of red. I liked the full team name and the split-font typeface. The logo was iconic to us Canadians. And now, it's back!

The team's logo has actually changed quite a bit in its relatively short history. When the team came into existence on that cold, snowy day in 1977 (remember, I was there), the logo had a nice stylized blue jay stamped on a baseball, and a bright red maple leaf.

In 1997, it switched it up a bit and put the whole thing on top of the leaf. It was okay. The elements were still the same. I didn't like the font as much, but I could live with it.

In 2003, it lost much of its style, and went with a bat-wielding blue jay wrapped around a letter 'T'. the colours were the same, but it lost something for me. Unfortunately, it was about to get worse.

In 2004, the logo hit rock bottom. Gone was the red. Gone was the "Blue" in Blue Jays. Gone was the split-font. Everything was gone. It was sad, indeed.

But now, it's ALL back! In 2012, the team will be sporting a logo that has all the elements of the original design. It has the blue jay head on the baseball. It has the splashes of red. It has the split-font typeface. It has the maple leaf. It has the "Blue Jays" name. It has everything. A slightly more modern bird image, and darker colour palette are the main things that distinguish it from the original design, and attempt to tie the various elements from the past together. It's both old and young (kinda like me!), and I LIKE it!

Well done to the Toronto Blue Jays franchise! You made a great choise, and made your long time fans happy (well, this one at least). Now go out there with your sporty new look, and win us some games!

   Don

Friday
Nov112011

One

Today is a special day.

November 11th is "Remembrance Day" in Canada, and "Veterans Day" in the United States. It's a day to reflect on our freedoms and the people who gave their all, often their lives, to protect those freedoms. To those veterans involved, and their families, I thank you!

If you're into numerology, it's a special day for a different reason. Today, on the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year of the millennium, the date can be written as 11/11/11. I've been waiting for this day for a long time.

Several years ago, I was configuring an application on the MyYahoo website, and it said to "Enter the date in the form 11/11/11." This was very confusing to me. I live in Canada, where the Metric System is in play. We format our dates, Year/Month/Day. I like it that way, because it mimics our traditional number system where the slowest changing part is to the left. For example Hundreds then Tens then Ones. It is also the only date format that sorts (remember....I'm a computer guy). The British system (used throughout much of Europe, India, Asia, and Latin America) formats dates in the form Day/Month/Year. Americans format dates in the form Month/Day/Year. It's all a bit confusing. I never did understand what Yahoo was trying to tell me. And today...finally...I don't need to care. For once, they are all the same.

Today at eleven seconds and eleven minutes after eleven o'clock, the date and time will be 11/11/11 11:11:11. Pretty cool eh? But before you look at your digital watch to see this historic event in numerology, take a few moments to reflect on the people that gave us the right to notice such trivial things. That gave us the right to live and be free.

Today, we are united.... as ONE.

   Don

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