As the daughter of the last librarian of the great Alexandria library, this Egyptian Geek had access to all the knowledge collected within and the scholars who studied there. She edited and annotated others’ works and then wrote her own treatises on mathematics and astronomy.
She is thought to have invented the hydrometer (which measures relative density of liquids) and charted stars and planets. She was known as a great teacher and defied many gender boundaries by moving freely in previously male only settings. Of course, her influence and outspokenness on matters of science, religion and more dangerously, politics, led to her being seized by a mob, stripped naked and murdered in the streets of the city. She has inspired free thinkers, articles and many a science fiction writer. Her name and memory live on in fiction by Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey, Umberto Eco and Marcel Proust, in an essay by Carl Sagan and even as a character in an episode of Doctor Who. She is the namesake of an asteroid belt, a crater on the moon and even a genus of moth.
When you have over six thousand years of recorded history, choosing ten exemplary Geeks will certainly be just skimming the surface and leaving out many notable names. There are also many anonymous Geeks who never got proper notice—the person who figured out how to use a wheel to make everyone’s work easier, the Geek who paid close attention to what was edible and what was poisonous by using the scientific method of observation (of others getting sick) and let’s not forget the devoted brewer who figured out fermentation (imagine the trial and error on that one!).
Each Geek chosen here led a relatively long life for their era and made sure that they received some measure of recognition. Geeks for all of their supposed lack of social skills (more of a nerd thing, really) do want to get noticed. And the long life comes from keen observational skills matched with enough good sense to avoid dying as a hero. So in the spirit of learning how it is done, let’s meet our oldest school Geeks.
1. Aristotle (384-322 BCE)
Aristotle was first and foremost known as a student. Socrates taught Plato and Plato taught Aristotle. To continue the chain, Aristotle was tutor of Alexander the Great and his successor Ptolemy at the Royal Academy in Macedonia and of the elite youth of Athens at his Lyceum. He helped to preserve the knowledge he had acquired from those who preceded him and then went on to fill in the gaps and instruct his influential students.
Aristotle set up to understand not only the world of the mind but also the physical world that surrounded him. Mathematics, astronomy, physics, medicine and zoology were observed, examined and theorized into whole new orders. Some of his ideas evolved into our current understanding, some shaped our understanding of logical arrangements of life forms into kingdoms and smaller groups, and some of his ideas were proven to be wildly off base. What makes him a geek is that he set out to find out answers and develop theories on everything.
We hear the word ‘Geek’ tossed around casually and pejoratively, but Geeks consider themselves as part of a grand tradition dating back to those Ur Geeks who thought of melting rocks to form metal tools, dreamed of sewer systems to make cities livable, and devoted their energies to figuring out how exactly man could fly. Da Vinci was a Geek, The Wright Brothers, yup Geeks, Mendel with his pea plants–the list goes on. Each had the ultimate Geek qualities—absolute devotion to matters deemed too arcane for the more popular heroes, perseverance, and the ability to look beyond the obvious into the strange to find the next big thing. Geeks do this knowing the social cost of being an outsider by choice but they persevere for that tingling of excitement when something really ‘cool’ happens.
Geeks have developed their own sense of community and style. Geek culture is in the popular mindset today at a level that matches the last great golden age of the geek—the Space Race. The tools have changed (more powerful and much smaller), the jargon has changed (more cyberpunk than trigonometric) but a lot of what was cool then remains just as influential today—just a bit broader.
You know if you are a Geek. There comes a point in every young Geek’s life when you realize that perhaps we care a bit too much. It can be comic books, baseball stats, skeins of yarn, Italian cinema or the electronics that surround you—but we are obsessed and more importantly we proudly wear our obsessions out in the open. We don’t hide our passion out of the fear of being ostracized by the non-Geek society (but we might keep it low-key when first meeting someone).
A Geek doesn’t care that others might find our dedication strange or a waste of time. In some ways, being outside of the mainstream is attractive to Geeks. We Geeks feel more comfortable on the side stage, in the back of the room or in our own communities.
Geeks often have wide-ranging interests. If you geek out over sci-fi movies, it wouldn’t be that unusual that you would also have strong opinions on the differences between computer operating systems, or the proper way to grill. Geeks often enjoy discovering new things to obsess over. Of course, when pursuing this desire to find shiny, new topics Geeks can get close to hipsterdom; but just as we approach ‘coolness’ inevitably a nerd snort will erupt and we are back to our proper Geek roots.
In this series, we will survey many of the topics of Geek obsessions, the unifying identifiers, the subcultures, the essential tools, and the heroes. We know that these lists will be far from complete and will generate a few nerd fights about how X was included and Y wasn’t. Our message to our beloved Geek comrades is that imagine that our lists are just a starting point, that they can expand out into non-whole, negative or even imaginary numbers. That way, your favorite Geek film may not be on our list but it can be number 4.255 or ≈√5.
If I read another article saying that the “ecosystem” for Windows 8 does not have to apps or games you need I am just going to link to this list. It’s going to be a long post so get ready for Appageddon!
All the app I am going to list are on my Surface RT now.
Lets start with Games! so many good games. iLomilo+ A platform puzzle game where you solve puzzles to lead 2 little guys through a series of mazes many hours of fun and it has XBOX achievements and multiplayer so you an play with friends online.
A World of Keflings Play as your Xbox LIVE Avatar and help the friendly, little Keflings harvest resources, assemble buildings and create thriving cities in desert, forest and ice kingdoms.
I love space shooters and this on had me fully engaged for hours of fun!
Doom and Destiny
I can not do this description better so I will leave it to the game developers.
“After the incredible success on Windows Phone, XBOX and Windows 7 D&D arrives on a great new Windows Store edition.You can now control the game with your touchscreen, with an XBOX gamepad or a keyboard! Strange events bring four nerdy friends in a fantasy world made of cliche, strange people and a lot of humor. Featuring more than 25 hours of fun, 200+ skills to defeat the 300+ enemies and over 500 between items and equipment D&D is a must have in your collection. Explore a gigantic world with more than 700 locations and unleash the power of the Spaghetti Monster!
When I was a kid I would take things apart just to see what was inside and to maybe understand how it worked, the main problem with this was I could not get them back together, but somehow that did not stop me and as I got older I was able to put things back together. I also found I sometimes could fix things. Well I found a broken CD/LP/Tape/Radio combo in the trash this morning and while I knew I did not want to fix it I knew that there would be lots of fun parts inside that could be used for projects.
This is the bottom
Well I knew there would be several motors one from the LP turn table a bunch in the CD drive and some in the tape deck.
There is also an FM tuner and audio amplifier on this board
I thought I would start with the CD drive. One thing to keep in mind when taking stuff apart is to take notes on where things are connected, wire colors and if the connection is labeled in any way. This is the CD drive.
In this photo you can see 2 plugs I wrote down the wire color and what was noted on the board about them.
This one controls the motor that spins the CD and the motor the moves the laser assembly to read the disk.
Now I need to think of something to make with this.
I am going to switch gears just a bit on this post and write a a bit on Windows 8 and review a few of my favorite apps and games.
First a bit about my experience with Windows 8 on my Surface running Windows RT
Some of my favorite apps
I really like the ABC news app it has a great mix if written and video content from all the ABC news shows.
The PULSE app is great app for viewing news from lots of web sites all in one place you can chose and set up the sites you want and organize them in to categories.
The TV Guide for TiVo works great to see what is on and control you TiVo if you hvae one but also works as a great TV guide.
In my opinion iCircuit may be one of the best apps available for Windows 8 it is a easy to use electronic circuit simulator and designer it is well worth the $4.99.
As for games Skulls of the Shogun is outstanding and you can save your game and play is on your XBox 360 or Windows Phone 8.
One more game Renaissance Blood THD this shows off how you can connect an XBox 360 controller to a Windows 8 tablet to play many games I personally prefer to use a controller instead of the touch screen and this game has it and is a lot of fun.
The .NET Gadgeteer starter kit comes with a touch screen and 2 RGB LEDs I thought it would be neat to control the color of the LED from the touch screen by entering text RGB values of 0 to 255. First I needed to make the touch screen interface to do this I went to the GHI GLIDE designer site this is a simple drag and drop tool for creating the XML needed for placing the buttons or other things on the screen.
This is what I had
After you are done click the Window button and chose Show XML
And this is the XML that was generated.
.NET Gadgeteer Application(NETMF4.2)project
Add the modules
Now from the Solutions Explorer right click Resources.resx and chose View Designer
Chose Add Resources and chose Add new Text file name it Window and paste in the XML code from above.
Now you will need this file as well GlideDLL download it and extract it.To add it to your project go to the Solutions Explorer right click References chose Add Reference chose the brows tab and go to where you extracted the Glide dll and add it.
Here is the code for Program.cs
using GT = Gadgeteer;
using GTM = Gadgeteer.Modules;
public partial class Program
static GHIElectronics.NETMF.Glide.Display.Window window;
private GHIElectronics.NETMF.Glide.UI.TextBox _redNum;
private GHIElectronics.NETMF.Glide.UI.TextBox _greenNum;
private GHIElectronics.NETMF.Glide.UI.TextBox _blueNum;
// Do one-time tasks here
// Load the Window XML string.
window = GlideLoader.LoadWindow(Resources.GetString(Resources.StringResources.window));
// Resize any loaded Window to the LCD’s size.
Glide.FitToScreen = true;
// Assign the Window to MainWindow; rendering it to the LCD.
Glide.MainWindow = window;
// Get the Buttons
GHIElectronics.NETMF.Glide.UI.Button LoadColor = (GHIElectronics.NETMF.Glide.UI.Button)window.GetChildByName(“LoadColor”);
// Get the TextBox
_redNum = (GHIElectronics.NETMF.Glide.UI.TextBox)window.GetChildByName(“redNum”);
_greenNum = (GHIElectronics.NETMF.Glide.UI.TextBox)window.GetChildByName(“greenNum”);
_blueNum = (GHIElectronics.NETMF.Glide.UI.TextBox)window.GetChildByName(“blueNum”);
// Add a tap event handler to open the keyboard.
_redNum.TapEvent += new OnTap(Glide.OpenKeyboard);
_greenNum.TapEvent += new OnTap(Glide.OpenKeyboard);
_blueNum.TapEvent += new OnTap(Glide.OpenKeyboard);
// Add a value changed handler.
_redNum.ValueChangedEvent += new OnValueChanged(redNum_ValueChangedEvent);
_greenNum.ValueChangedEvent += new OnValueChanged(greenNum_ValueChangedEvent);
_blueNum.ValueChangedEvent += new OnValueChanged(blueNum_ValueChangedEvent);
// Set up event handlers
LoadColor.TapEvent += new OnTap(LoadColor_TapEvent);
Every beginning hacker needs a good soldering iron I am going to recommend 2.
The first one is the Weller WLC100 40-Watt Soldering Station $45.00 This is the iron that I use every day and it is great but if you want to maybe jump up a bit and have better temperature control I would recommend the Hakko FX-888 $95.00
One more tool this is not truly a requirement for the beginner but it is very nice to have. I have been using the RIGOL DS1052E Digital Oscilloscope $329 for a while now and I can not say enough great things about this scope and the price is amazing for all the functions it comes with.
Now how about some great projects that you can learn a lot from and are fun to use and play with after you finish them.
The Function generator Kit from SparkFun looks great and after you build it you can add it to your hacker workbench. I use mine all the time for testing audio circuits but it does so much more including generating servo test/control signals.$49.95 Maybe you want to start a cool project but soldering is not your thing the .NET Gadgeteer is a great way to make all sorts of projects. From robots to video game systems and control just about any thing you can think of from doors,lights,sprinklers and you can add on wireless networking and have it send out information on temperature, light and moisture. Starter Kit 49.95 to 249.95
The Netduino 2 is an exciting new microcontroller that allows you to use some of the more power hungry shields. $59.95
Add the LoL (lots of LEDs) shield to the Netduino 2 and light up your holidays hacker style. It comes in GreenWhiteBlue and Red $24.95
I hope this list will help you find something for the hacker in you life and have a happy and safe holiday.
On October 26 Microsoft released it’s new operating system Windows 8 and with it a new Market Place. This is a great time to learn a new skill and maybe you could create the next Angry Birds. Microsoft want to attract new developers so this is also a great time to learn computer programming as well. I have know for a while that my self taught skills where severely lacking in some of the basics and that maybe I should try to start from the beginning and learn the basics. I have gone through this series C# Fundamentals: Development for Absolute Beginners and found I knew more than I thought but learned a lot. After boosting my confidence on the basics I moved on to Windows Store apps for Absolute Beginners with C# I then felt maybe I could start writing my own app for Windows 8. After 8 hours I already have a functioning app it still needs a lot of polish but it does what I want it to with no errors. The app will be an Electronics 101 tool for building and designing basic circuits and learning the basics with tools for calculating resistor values from the color code finding capacitance values from the code on caps and some basic IC information on OP-AMPs ,74000 series and timers. Here is a quick screen shot but like I said it needs a LOT of work and it is my first attempt at something like this.