Ten Exercises to be a Better Geek

Posted by: Rea Maor In: Misc - Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

1. View Source

It’s right there for free all over the web. Make a habit of it, and pretty soon you’ll train yourself to see the second web – the world of Meta-tags and Javascript libraries and CSS style and comments – some of them quite fun! I’ve known several sites that were easier to read from the source code than they were in the web browser proper.

2. Switch Window Managers

Mainly this is for the Linux/BSD crowd. Try a lightweight like Blackbox or Window Maker, if it comes with your distro. Edit a style. By changing your desktop every now and then, it just keeps your mind loose and limber.

3. Try a New Distro

From the same reasoning as above. Live CDs are great to shop around, especially the smaller distros that never seem to get any love. You find out about new programs you never would have known about, see new styles and ways of doing things, and you might just get an inspiration for your next project.

4. Bookmark a Cheatsheet

For things like Unicode, CSS, SQL select statements, Emacs commands, Firefox hotkeys, and so on. They’re good to go over every now and then to learn them so they’lll be in your head when you need them.

5. Read a Classic Programming Book

Everybody praises them, and you know they’re great, but you never seem to get around to reading them. Here’s a whole bunch.

6. Learn a New Language

That can be programming, or mark-up, or – hey! – how about a spoken language? You know, for talking to people? The web is one big international terminal; your next coding project could bring you together with people from all over the world. Getting conversant in more than one language just helps broaden your range.

7. Write a Script

Whether it’s Javascript, PHP, Bash, DOS, or Visual Basic, pick some menial task that you do all the time but you could shorten it to one step with a script. Writing a shell script does for your programming brain what taking a spin around the block does for your car: both activities keep them from rusting.

8. Spend a Day Learning a Subject You Hate

Sure, you would just as soon hammer railroad spikes into your temple as study cross-site scripting attacks. But you that know one of these days your blog’s comment box will be hacked, your database will be hosed, and you’ll be up at 3 AM cussing yourself for not learning more about cross-site scripting attacks.

9. Try a Mad Scientist’s Project

Like, oh, I don’t know, run Windows 3.1 inside of DOSBox from a Linux desktop, all to play the original Chip’s Challenge. Worth the effort just for the “You’re running WHAT?” reaction you get from people.

10. Go outside

Walk your dog. Start a garden. Mow your grass. Shovel your snow. Re-introduce your skin to the strange yellow ball in the sky that emits radiation. Seriously, I don’t know how many times I was stuck for an idea and I just went outside and a few lungfuls of fresh air was all I needed. Even if it involved a walk to the pub.

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3 Responses to “Ten Exercises to be a Better Geek”

  1. Andy Bailey Says:

    oh god, I just discovered I am already a better geek. I do all those things for fun

  2. James Lawrie Says:

    Nice post, and a good few minutes wasted 🙂 and I know I’m just being pedantic here but:
    “Writing a shell script does for your programming brain what taking a spin around the block does for your car: both activities keep them from rusting.” isn’t completely true – taking a car for a short run damages it. For example, if you don’t wait long enough for the whole exhaust to warm up, the half that didn’t can cause the exhaust to fall off, and the acids in the cold exhaust fumes make it worse.

  3. Bookmarks about Libraries Says:

    […] – bookmarked by 1 members originally found by janus on 2008-12-13 Ten Exercises to be a Better Geek http://www.AskReaMaor.com/misc/ten-exercises-to-be-a-better-geek/ – bookmarked by 3 members […]

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