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Birthday Gift

April 16, 2010

So it was my birthday last week. No big party, no fancy dinner; just a low key celebration at home. I was in no mood for my usual upbeat birthday plans this year. I managed to convince myself that my 2010 birthday would be a simple one. But still, I did hope that Mr. Geek would do something to make me feel special that one day of the year. And when no cake or flowers showed up when it struck 12, I went to bed a little sad. My geek had probably decided to go low key but come on I wished he’d at least wish me right at 12. Half an hour later, I get a birthday wish that I wasn’t too excited about and which reminded me that it was going to be just another regular day.

E-Birthday Cake

In the morning, I got ready for work, bid my sleeping geek goodbye, and was about to head out of the door when I saw it. Our big fat improvised digital frame (Mr. Geek turned our broken laptop into a digital frame)  had this cute picture of a cake and a lovely birthday message and was that a faint birthday tune that I heard? Oh yeah, a surprise early morning e-cake. I closed my eyes, made a wish and tried blowing out the candles and for a moment I thought it did. Mr. Geek later explained, he did try for an interactive cake but things got out of hand at the last minute. maybe next year? 🙂

Later in the evening I devoured a chocalate molten cake plus a strawberry cheesecake but I still think Mr. Geek’s e-cake was the best! Am I having a geek moment here?

Testing the waters: javascript

March 26, 2010
So, it’s been a while… Mr. Geek has been driving me insane in his geekdom. I just wish that I am more part of the outcome than the whole process of any of his geeky innovations, wishful thinking or too selfish? But in my defense, I can say that most of Mr. geek’s projects hardly get a closure. You know, how there’s never the best computer or software, you are always upgrading? Likewise, all of Mr. Geek’s projects get revisited for upgrades. Last time, I told you about our laptop turned digital frame – it’s now been upgraded to a fancier looking frame which obviously cost us a visit to Michaels that involved at least an hour to check out the perfect size and fit. But I have to agree, it looks prettier and gets a lot of compliments from our guest (photo to follow soon). And okay, the best part – it’s voice activated now! I can talk to the computer to tell me the time, weather and call people. I have to tell you the story behind the “voice activated” drama sometime else.
Latest Geeky Influence in the house:

I had my first javascript lesson yesterday. Yes, you got that right – “I” am learning javascript and it’s not too hard to guess that I am using my privileges of the easily available Mr. Geek brain in my home. For those of you who have no clue about programming, javascript is a programming language… Oh wait, it’s an “interpreted” language ( as clarified by Mr. Geek) for making interactive websites. I am not going to elaborate what I learned but now when I realize the best way to get Mr. Geek to listen is to talk his way through programming, I decided to give it a shot. It’s not that “over the head” as I thought it’d be but you know I have a little geek in me that pops up once in a while and I am totally going to blame my interest on javascript to that little girl in me. I just have to see how long I can survive this! The best part of the 2 hour class yesterday? The look on Mr. Geek’s face when I said I am interested in javascript. In 5 minutes, there was a presentation up on our TV screen and a happy yappy geek so excited to talk about the thing he likes the best.
Update: Here’s the javscript 101 presentation prepared by Mr. Geek.

Recycling Your Broken Laptop

December 4, 2009

I’ve always wanted a digital frame. When I was little, I remember my dad sticking our pictures from our manual camera into albums. Many did not even make it to albums, they’d just stay in photo bags along with their negatives. They are probably stacked in his closet somewhere. Now, even with a digital camera, many of my pictures just sit in my hard drive. They stay put along with my other files. So, clearly I love the idea of a digital frame. It’s such an easy and perfect way to display your photographs and re-live your memories. But my geek husband is dead against buying it. According to him, a digital frame is no more than a flat screen with a memory stick, and he was not going to let me pay $100 for a 10 inch frame. His logic was to buy a 19 inch flat monitor, hang it on the wall and connect it to an old CPU. You’d drill the cable through your wall so the monitor just hangs on your wall. You would spend more than $100 to get this up and running but you’d get more than a picture frame.  You’d still be able to use it as a computer when needed. For the longest time, we had a flat monitor stuck on our wall. I liked what he did, but you know it looks like a screen saver on a computer rather than a frame. Finally after a year of trying to convince him we needed a more frame like photo display, geek dude recently found the perfect alibi to create a digital frame for me.

Last week, my laptop broke. It literally broke. It’s a 360 turn gateway tablet and while it did the cool turn, its joint started to loosen and it finally gave way last week. The sides are now cracked and the monitor can no longer stand on its own. I am more concerned that the wires connecting the machine and the screen will break and it will be good as dead. I’d most likely have to get a replacement to get it fixed and with the fee that I’d have to pay for it to be replaced I’d rather buy myself a brand new laptop. So, while I was in the verge of dumping it to a corner for the time being, geek dude knew exactly how he wanted to put my frail laptop to use. And like many of his projects, this one was also a midnight mini project. Now I have a chic digital frame in my living room that looks like exactly like a picture frame and nothing close to a broken laptop. But it’s a touch screen and it’s wireless!!!

He taped the broken part and made sure the screen and the keyboard part are intact

That's an old frame that he took apart

The frame size is perfect for the laptop

Booting your laptop.

It's still a touch screen!

Installed a slideshow program that pulls out pictures from your folders

Catch: You need the power cord attached to the laptop, so I hide it behind the table. You could charge your batteries and leave it without the power cord and recharge when needed. And I’ll have to go back and upload new pictures to the specific folder. But you know what, all the computers in my home are networked (thanks to geek dude!), so I don’t have to use the same laptop to download pictures from my camera. I’ll just paste them through another computer. YAY!

We still have to find a way to bind the laptop and the frame. Probably with some wire but for now, it’s standing on my side table resting on the wall and looks perfect!

Get A Life

November 25, 2009

Geek dude and I have had endless conversations of how to stay active. We joined a gym for 3 months and then decided we’d save some money if we buy an elliptical instead. One year later, the cycle is more of a decorative piece than an exercise machine. We’ve pushed each other to run everyday, but you know with day light savings, running after coming home from work seems next to impossible – well, at least that’s how I make my case ( I know it’s lame!). How about the mornings, you’d say, but  I am living with a geek whose creative juices shoot up between 12pm to 4am; sometimes it goes up to 7am or was that 8? Most of the time, geek dude would hoard his sleep like some storage machine and save his sleep for the weekend.  At one point, I remember he was working for 36 hours in a stretch, with just bathroom breaks and food to keep him energized. He would then sleep for almost 24 hours.

I on the other hand, like most normal people,  love my 8 hours of  beauty sleep as I’d like to call it. Getting married to a geek has deprived me of my full 8 hours of sleep and I’ve been forced to accept  6 or 7 hours at the most.  You sleep before midnight in my place, and you will most likely be called lazy. So, I am usually up till midnight and by the time I am out of bed, I am always rushing to get to work.

Recently, we’ve been trying very hard to work out, go out for a walk, run or even just stretch whenever possible. But our concern for a need to have an active life became more serious when geek dude started to complain of chronic back aches. It was regularly accompanied by stiff neck and wrist pains. A typical symptom of a person who spends most of his day *and night* sitting in front of a computer. Even I spend most of my day working in a computer and our biggest challenge has been getting into a habit of taking regular breaks while we are at our desks.

Okay, here comes the geeky part. 2 weeks ago,  I was reading a book and suddenly the whole apartment seemed to shake with a cackle –  a chicken’s cackle. First of all, we don’t live in a farm, we live right in downtown; we are only interrupted by loud fire engines running around not chicken cackles. Secondly, it was already midnight, not something that would let me look forward to a good sleep, especially when I saw no signs of it stopping. Turns out my brilliant geek had just completed his “staying active” project. His brand new program would freeze your machine every 40 minutes, locking you out and reactivate only after 5 minutes.  You could reboot your computer, but think about the time it takes to reboot and the possibility of losing your work if you haven’t saved it. And what was that cackle? His choice of sound to alert you that your 5 minutes is over and you can now start working. He wanted to keep it loud and shrill so he could hear it from every corner of our home, what better than a chicken cackle huh? It’s been 2 weeks now, geek dude gets out of his chair every 40 minutes. He stretches, walks around the house,  freshens up and goes back to his desk.

He’s convinced me to install the program in my work computer as well without the chicken cackle of course. I was a little skeptical at first, what if I am in the middle of a time sensitive project, what if I need to send an email withing the next 2 minutes? But I think unless you are working for the FBI, you probably won’t have to worry about taking a 5 minute break. You could possibly choose to close the program through your task manager if you’d like but there’s no point of installing it if you want to cheat. I have been diligently taking breaks, doing my computer and desk stretches, walking around the building, running stairs, and seriously it feels good, I feel more productive. I just hope nobody at work sees my monitor for those 5 minutes. It has  a 300 second counter with big fat letters screaming “Get a life”. There have been times when I am just about to hit send or finish a project, and the ‘get a life’ screen pops up. I used to get annoyed at first, but nowadays I just try to get a life outside my cubicle for those whole 5 minutes. Did you know, it’s pretty out there?

Story Behind The Word

November 22, 2009

I’ve used the word geek like a zillion times and probably you have too. I was curious how it all started and what it actually means today. So, I thought it’d be great to do a little research on why “geek” is what it is now.

A majority of web definitions suggests that “geek” dates back to the 19th century.

The most popular and interesting definition that I found was a carnival slang. Geeks were carnival performers who would bite heads off live chickens as part of a show.

Imagine being able to do that! Some even add that geeks ate glass and live mice. Gradually, the word was applied to anyone who did bizarre tasks. The bottom line:  you’d be a geek if you do anything for a living – anything that’s considered odd and disgusting by the society.

But the word only became a popular term through William Gresham’s 1946 novel, “Nightmare Alley”. The novel told a story of carnival life; it was later made into a film starring Tyrone Power.

Geek was then finally adopted by the technical community – maybe computer programming was/is still considered a weird job and calling programmers geek made sense. But by 1990, geeks had won over many with their success from the dot-com bubble; and turned into a fashionable term. And while geek might still not be a cool term for kids, parents seem to have developed a strong liking. A few weeks ago, my colleague told me how she wants her children to be geeks, and with the following that geek dad ( has, you can sense that quite a number of parents are eager to raise geek children.

Apparently, you don’t have to be a computer freak to be called a geek. If you are overly obsessed with something that is beyond normal social acceptance, you are a geek. You could be a history geek,  a video game geek, a comic book geek and so forth… I find this confusing though. If you are obsessed with fashion, could you be a fashion geek? Now maybe fashion does not get classified as not mainstream. But my geek is a tech geek so it makes things easier for me. I am going to keep this blog mainly focused on his obsession with programming and technology. I could also say he is a finance geek given his obsession with stocks. His interest for finance kind of sky rocketed after Lehman & WAMU fell last year and he’s been on his toes checking stocks and researching like crazy everyday. He’s convinced a few of his friends to invest in certain companies too, with reasons backed up by his pretty convincing arguments. I wasn’t too happy to see the ups and downs in our monthly finance charts but that’s a whole different story.
Here’s my  favorite definition of a geek  from the urban dictionary, I am pretty confident it was defined by a geek.
Geek: The people you pick on in high school and wind up working for as an adult

Hello World!

November 18, 2009

As I was about to delete the basic “hello world!” post from wordpress and start a lengthy blog post talking about how I and the geek dude met and so forth, geek dude tells me the significance behind “hello world” – yes the geeky significance behind it. So, I decided to keep hello world as my first post in honor of its importance to computer geeks.

It turns out, hello world! is traditionally the first program that you learn when you start programming. It all started with an example program in a book The C Programming Language. You would learn to program the computer to display the message “hello world!” for every new  programming language you want to try your hands on. It’s like learning to say hello or thank you in every language.  So while I am stuck with my hello with hola, bonjour, prieviet, namaste, ni hao, hallo and konnichiwa, my geek’s done it over and over again in c, c #, javascript, .net, php and god knows what.

Here’s a hello world! humor that I found.  I skipped through most of it and I think I  got what the joke was  –  it made me smile but that was about it. My geek got a kick out of it. He thought the last bit was hilarious. hmm… I am not there yet. maybe you would agree? hint: skim through, read the headers, the first few lines and the last few lines 🙂