What's That Thing on Your Page?

Version: 3.12
GAT d@ s:+ a C++++$ UBLS*++(++++)$ P+++$ L+ E>++ W+++ N(+) o++ K+++ w>--- O?(++) M+ V-- PS+++ PE+++ Y+>++ PGP++ t+ 5+ X(++) R !tv b++(++++) DI++++ D+ G++ e++* h- r y+

It's a Geek Code. Mine is explained below; quotes from the canonical Geek Code are followed by rabbinical commentary. All excerpts are copyrighted.

Type of Geek: GAT

Geeks come in many flavors. The flavors relate to the vocation (or, if a student, what they are training in) of the particular geek. To start a code, a geek must declare himself or herself to be a geek. To do this, we start the code with a G to denote "geek," followed by one or two letters to denote the geek's occupation or field of study. Multi-talented geeks with more than one vocational training should denote their myriad of talents with a slash between each vocation (example: GCS/MU/TW).

Geek of All Trades. For those geeks that can do anything and everything. GAT usually precludes the use of other vocational descriptors.

My mind is a steel sieve. I am a successful standards nerd because I retain useless information like nobody's business, such as the details of the SGML reference concrete syntax. I am a computer nerd, a musician who wishes he were a composer, a draftsman who wishes he were an artist, a writer who wishes he were an author... see a pattern? I collect information the way some people collect souvenir throw pillows. My current specialty is information about information, specifically related to information in motion: the Internet, typography, markup, hypertext, transformation, indexing, and ergonomics.


Dress: d@

It is said that "clothes make the man." Well, I understood that I was made by a mommy and a daddy (and there's even a category to describe the process below!). Maybe the people who made up that saying aren't being quite that literal...

for this variable, said trait is not very rigid, may change with time or with individual interaction.

I own a double-breasted suit and jeans with holes in them. I have a long black dress coat and a somewhat tattered late-'80s windbreaker. I own wing-tips but am usually seen barefooted. In short, I wear whatever I feel like. When I'm on a consulting gig, I wear whatever's necessary for the job, be it suit and tie, jacket and slacks, polo and khakis, or jeans and T-shirt. The appropriate dress for the ideal job is a bathrobe or nothing at all.

Shape: s:+

Geeks come in many shapes and sizes. Shape code is divided into two parts. The first indicates height, while the second indicates roundness.

I'm a little taller/rounder than most.
I'm an average geek

I'm currently 5'8" and about 160 lbs. That's more than I should weigh for this height, so I'm planning to grow some more. I've returned to studying 태권도 in the last couple of years, and I seem to have actually lost more than twenty pounds.

Age: a

The only way to become a true geek is through practice and experience. To this end, your age becomes an important part of your geekiness. Use the qualifiers below to show your age (in Terran years). Also, please use base 10 numbers.


I was born in 1972. I could give my exact age (a30) but then I'd have to change it every year instead of every five.


Computers: C++++$

Most geeks identify themselves by their use of computers and computer networks. In order to quantify your geekiness level on computers, consult the following (consider the term 'computers' synonymous with 'computer network'). This category represents "general" computer aptitude. Categories below will get into specifics.

I'll be first in line to get the new cybernetic interface installed into my skull.
Indicates that this particular category is done for a living.

I spend nearly all of every working day in front of a CRT. The computer is my desktop, my filing cabinet, my decoration, my personal expression, my telephone, my post office, my classroom, my library, and my playground. I've had an affinity for the beasts as long as I can remember. Now I'm under the delusion that I can make a living telling other people how to make them go.

UNIX: UBLS*++(++++)$

It seems that a UNIX-based operating system is the OS of choice among most geeks. In addition to telling us about your UNIX abilities, you can also show which specific UNIX OS you are using. To accomplish this, you include a letter showing the brand with your rating. For example: UL++++ would indicate a sysadmin running Linux.

Sun OS/Solaris
Some other one not listed
I am the sysadmin. If you try and crack my machine don't be surprised if the municipal works department gets an "accidental" computer-generated order to put start a new landfill on your front lawn or your quota is reduced to 4K.
I've got the entire admin ticked off at me because I am always using all of the CPU time and trying to run programs that I don't have access to. I'm going to try cracking /etc/passwd next week, just don't tell anyone.
Indicates that this particular category is done for a living.
for indicating "cross-overs" or ranges.

I like UNIX; I like it a lot. So much so that on my unfortunate Windows laptop, I've installed the Cygwin utilities; it's all rm and ls for me, baby. Besides the laptop (bought for a mismanaged start-up and never reimbursed; I'd never buy a Windows box on my own initiative), I have an old PC (Gateway 2000 60 MHz Pentium) running FreeBSD and a SPARCstation with dual Ross processors running Solaris. My ISPs all run either Linux or Solaris.

Perl: P+++$

If you enjoy at least U++ status you have to know about Perl, so you might as well rate yourself in this sub-category. Non-UNIX geeks don't know what they're missing.

Perl is a very powerful programming tool. Not only do I no longer write shell scripts, I also no longer use awk or sed. I use Perl for all programs of less than a thousand lines.
Indicates that this particular category is done for a living.

Okay, that's not quite true; I still write shell scripts and use sed. But since my bread and butter is text processing, I use a lot of Perl.

I tend to learn new languages only when I really need to. I'd spent several years meaning to learn Perl, and had a few of the O'Reilly books. Then I went to work there, and the first thing they made me do was fix a huge object-oriented Perl conversion tool that had gone astray. I was writing Perl scripts with some regularity, and a cow-orker referred to me as "our Perl expert" when I'd been there less than a year. I found that very funny. Now I write scripts left and right, and am working on a Perl/XML literate programming system. (Some people find the concept of literate Perl frightening... I can't think why.)

Linux: L+

Linux is a hacker-written operating system virtually identical to UNIX. It was written for and continues to run on your standard 386/486/Pentium PC, but has also been ported to other systems. Because it is still a young OS, and because it is continually evolving from hacker changes and support, it is important that the geek list his Linux ability.

I've managed to get Linux installed and even used it a few times. It seems like it is just another OS.

I haven't actually installed Linux myself, but I've helped a few other people to do so, and this Web site is maintained on a Linux system. I thought about running it at home at one point, but I decided to run FreeBSD instead. I'm not a zealot, it just seemd like FreeBSD was more stable. I'm very pro-Linux, just even more pro-FreeBSD. I'd love to see a world where you can buy a new PC and be offered a choice of pre-installed Windows 2000, OS/2, FreeBSD, Linux, BeOS, or Mac OS X.

Emacs: E>++

GNU Emacs is the do-all be-everything editor/operating system available for just about every computer architecture out there.

I know and use elisp regularly!
Yeah, I know what Emacs is, and use it as my regular editor.
for 'wannabe' ratings. Indicating that while the geek is currently at one rating, they are striving to reach another.

I used to use Emacs a lot more; RMAIL at work and MH-E at home to read e-mail, and gnus for news. However, since the unfortunate Windows laptop is my main machine, I use Eudora as my MUA, and I don't read news much lately. At some point, I'll get sick of this $3,000 piece of crap and throw it out, get a sub-$1,000 laptop with Linux, and go back to using Emacs for all text transactions. In the meantime though, it's my only editor; it's the first thing I install on any new system.

World-Wide Web: W+++

It's relatively new. It's little understood. Everybody's doing it. How much of a web-surfer are you?

I am a Webmaster. Don't even think about trying to view my homepage without the latest version of Netscape. When I'm not on my normal net connection, I surf the Web using my Newton and a cellular modem.

Good lord, that quote is dated! Can you say, "1995," boys and girls?

As the Any Browser button at the bottom of this page indicates, I don't hold with that "latest version of Netscape" crap. I contributed to HTML 2.0 and XML, and was active for a while in the Web Accessibility Initiative. I am the Webmaster for two sites beside this one. And I don't use a Newton - it's a Qualcomm pdQ smartphone, an amazing Palm/cell phone hybrid.

USENET News: N(+)

USENET, a global collection of flaming opinions and senseless babble, was designed as a way to eat up precious spool space on a system's hard drive. It also is a way for people to distribute pornography.

I read news recreationally when I have some time to kill.
USENET news? Sure, I read that once
for indicating "cross-overs" or ranges.

I used to use a great many newsgroups, including the comp.text.* hierarchy and alt.sysadmin.recovery. However, professional mailing lists now generate more than 200 messages a day for me, and I just don't have time for news on top of that. I feel a little guilty about not reading comp.text.sgml and comp.text.xml, but I seem to be doing all right with the dozen markup-related mailing lists. In theory, I still read when I have time, but we all know how often that is.

USENET Oracle: o++

(Info taken from the USENET Oracle Help File)
Throuhout the history of mankind, there have been many Oracles who have been consulted by many mortals, and some immortals. The great Hercules was told by the Delphic Oracle to server Eurystheus, king of Mycenæ for twelve years to atone for the murder of his own children. It was the Oracle of Ammon who told King Cepheus to chain his daughter Andromeda to the rocks of Joppa to appease the terricle sea monster that was ravaging the coasts. That solution was never tested, though, as Perseus saved the girl in the nick of time.

With the advent of the electronic age, and expecially high-speed e-mail communication, the spirit of the Oracles foung a new outlet, and we now recognize another great Oracle, the USENET Oracle.

For more information, check out the newsgroups rec.humor.oracle and rec.humor.oracle.d or the FTP archives at cs.indiana.edu:/pub/oracle. Additional information and instructions can be found by sending an e-mail message with the subject of "help" to oracle@cs.indiana.edu.

I have made the Best Of Oracularities.

I've had one question and one answer make the Oracularities. Those were pround moments, though I haven't Oraclized in well over five years, and I don't think I even have copies of those award-winning Oracularities.

Kibo: K+++

Kibo is. That is all that can be said. If you don't understand, read alt.religion.kibology.

I've gotten mail from Kibo

Not much to say here. If you know him, you understand; if you don't, you won't.

Mentos: the Freshmaker. (Though not vegetarian, alas...)

Microsoft Windows: w>---

A good many geeks suffer through the use of various versions of Microsoft's Windows running on or as a replacement for DOS. Rate your Windows Geekiness.

Ok, so I use MS Windows, I don't have to like it.
Windows has set back the computing industry by at least 10 years. Bill Gates should be drawn, quartered, hung, shot, poisoned, disembowelled, and then really hurt.
for 'wannabe' ratings. Indicating that while the geek is currently at one rating, they are striving to reach another.

My home was a criMosoft-free zone. (Well, except for the DOS 3.10 diskettes next to the PC/AT that hasn't been really used for a couple of years.) Then I bought the unfortunate laptop, with Windows installed because it was for company use and that's what the sysadmin had standardized on. The company went broke and I was never reimbursed, so now it's mine. At least it was a tax writeoff... I use as little Microsoft technology as possible on the system; StarOffice, Emacs, Cygwin, and Eudora are my tools of choice here. I genuinely like Internet Explorer and Microsoft Reader, but could easily give them up in trade for getting rid of Windows. Unfortunately, I have too much content invested here to easily replace the OS.

OS/2: O?(++)

The operating system that looks a lot like Windows, acts a lot like Windows, but is much better than Windows.

I use OS/2 for all my computing needs. I use some DOS and Windows programs, but run them under OS/2. If the program won't run under OS/2, then obviously I don't need it.
for indicating "cross-overs" or ranges.
Unless stated otherwise within the specific category, the ? is placed after the category identifier and indicates that the geek has no knowledge about that specific category.

In theory, OS/2 was great. I was extremely impressed by promotional stuff when it first came out, and I've used it a couple of times; it's very nice. Unfortunately, there was never a lot of software available, and it's pretty much dead now. As I said above, I'm not a big criMosoft fan, and that alone was reason to like OS/2. But at this point, even IBM is pushing Linux as its main Windows alternative and most of the IBM employees I know run Windows.

Macintosh: M+

Many geeks have abandoned the character-based computer altogether and moved over to the Macintosh. It is important to give notification of your Mac rating.

A Mac has its uses and I use one quite often.

When I went to college, I was quite the anti-Mac snob. I had no idea what I was talking about. (Those of you who know me, pipe down.) Most of the day-to-day work I did in college, from typing papers to connecting to the mainframe, was done on a Mac, and I grew quite fond of them. Serious computation was done on one Solaris box or another, but even then it was sometimes via a telnet from a Mac. Ellie received a Mac as a graduation present, and it was the main household computer until I got my laptop. There are also some extremely cool games available only for the Macintosh, such as Fool's Errand and System's Twilight (and I spent a lot of freshman year in the Shufflepuck Café). I've done a lot of typesetting in OzTeX for the Mac, and still prefer one for graphic design.

VMS: V--

Many geeks use the VMS operating system by DEC for all of their mainframe and network activity.

I would rather smash my head repeatedly into a brick wall than suffer the agony of working with VMS. It's reminiscent of a dead and decaying pile of moose droppings. UNIX rules the universe.

Shudder. A friend had a VMS account in college; I tried to use it once or twice, and watched him try to use it with considerably more experience under his belt. It appears to have all of the user-friendliness of UNIX, crossed with all of the power and usefulness of Windoze.


Political and Social Issues: PS+++

We live is a society where everyone not only has a right to, but is expected to, whine and complain about everyone else. Rate where, in general, your political views on different social issues fall.

Legalize drugs! Abolish the government. "Fuck the draft!"

I am a Libertarian. I strongly believe that you have the right to do anything that doesn't initiate force against anyone else, and that the sole legitimate purposes of the government are to defend the country from invasion and prosecute such infringements.

Politics and Economic Issues: PE+++

Social and economic attitudes are seldom on the same side of the political fence. Of course, most geeks don't really care much about economics, having no money left after buying new computer toys.

Abolish antitrust legislation. Raise taxes on everyone but the rich so that the money can trickle-down to the masses.

Taking that more plusses mean more freedom, I am definitely PE+++. However, the way the description is worded, I can't really say that that's me. Review antitrust legislation, and lower or eliminate taxes - not raise them. Hayden apparently associates high PE with being a Republican. As I said above, I'm a Libertarian. More freedom is better on the inherent principle of it, but it's almost always true that more freedom is also pragmatically better.

Cypherpunks: Y+>++

With the birth of the overused buzzword "The Information Superhighway", concerns over privacy from evil governmental bad-guys™ has led to the formation of of an unofficial, loosely organized band of civil libertarians who spend much of their time discussing how to ensure privacy in the information future. This group is known by some as "cypherpunks" (by others, as anarchistic subversives). To this end, tell us how punkish you are.

I am on the cypherpunks mailing list and active around USENET. I never miss an opportunity to talk about the evils of Clipper and ITAR and the NSA. Orwell's 1984 is more than a story, it is a warning to our and future generations. I'm a member of the EFF
I have an interest and concern in privacy issues, but in reality I am not really all that active or vocal.
for 'wannabe' ratings. Indicating that while the geek is currently at one rating, they are striving to reach another.

I care about privacy issues; I receive a few bulletin mailing lists, and as above, I'm a member of the LP, which was a vocal opponent of the CDA. I joined the lawsuit against the CDA, but haven't paid money to any cyber-freedom organization (unless you count the LP), and really should be doing more.

Last year, I was fairly involved with Дмитрий Скляров's case. I was at most of the San Francisco and San José protests, and attended his bail hearing. The case coincided with a general activist re-awakening, though I'm not sure whether it was a trigger or a beneficiary.


Pretty Good Privacy (aka PGP) is a program available on many platforms that will encrypt files so that prying eyes (particularly governmental) can't look at them.

I have the most recent version and use it regularly

I have a licensed-for-commercial-use copy of PGP on my laptop and my public key on my home page and the major keyservers. If I know you, bring your fingerprint next time we meet in person and we'll sign keys. (Nerd fun!)


Star Trek: t+

Most geeks have an undeniable love for the Star Trek television show (in any of its different incarnations). Because geek is often synonymous with trekkie (real geeks aren't so anal as to label themselves trekker), it is important that all geeks list their Trek rating.

It's a damn fine TV show and is one of the only things good on television any more.

This depends, of course, on what the meaning of the word "it" is. The original Star Trek wasn't stellar drama (no pun intended), but it was groundbreaking in many of the ideas that it advanced. Star Trek: The Next Generation had many of the same good qualities, plus capable actors and much better effects. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine got off to a shaky start, but finished quite well. I stopped watching Star Trek: Voyager after a season or two. It seemed like it would be okay for a while, but they began to treat their characters somewhat randomly, developing them in important ways and then forgetting that the development had happened. I was excited about the potential when they introduced the Borg, but I feel that it was poorly done; it definitely seemed that the writers didn't even watch the original Borg episodes.

Babylon 5: 5+

For many years, Sci-Fi geeks have wished for a television show that would overcome the limitations of Star Trek. For many, a show called Babylon 5 has met that demand, with a deep storyline, exciting characters and state-of-the-art computer generated effects.

Babylon 5 certainly presents a fresh perspective in the Sci-Fi universe. I watch it weekly.

I used to be a 5-. I saw a few first-season episodes: lousy acting, stilted dialog, and cheap-o special effects (notably, a soul-sucking machine apparently built from old tires and a HeNe laser). However, I started watching again towards the end of the second season, and it was okay, especially with the excellent fan-run Web site - one of the best sites on the Web, regardless of subject - providing synopses and analyses. I think JMS has created an excellent universe, and in the third season really hit his stride. I taped all the episodes when they were re-run on TNT and, the ill-fated sequel series Crusade. Watching the series from the beginning, I appreciated JMS's work all the more; there are little things dropped into the pilot that don't bear fruit until the third season. That's pretty cool. I was excited that the SciFi Network is showing the series in its original wide-screen format, but decided to wait for the DVDs rather than re-tape the entire series again. Plus, I don't have a TV.

X-Files: X(++)

The Fox Network's Friday evening show The X-Files has become the staple of Friday geekhood. Any show that has aliens, governmental conspiracies, aliens, psychic powers, aliens, and other weird stuff is, by definition, a geeky show.

This is one of the better shows I've seen. I wish I'd taped everything from the start at SP, because I'm wearing out my EP tapes. I'll periodically debate online. I've Converted at least 5 people. I've gotten a YAXA.
Ho hum. Just another Fox show.
for indicating "cross-overs" or ranges.

I used to watch the show weekly. I started watching at the end of the re-runs leading up to the second season, and got hooked pretty quickly. Ellie taped them at SP when they aired on the FX network, but after the fifth season it seemed to go downhill. I don't worry about missing it now.

Role Playing: R

Role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons have long been a part of the traditional geek life. Because geeks often become so involved in their role-playing that they lose touch with reality, include one of the following role-playing codes.

Role-playing? That's just something to do to kill a Saturday afternoon

I finally found a group of people to play with on a semi-regular basis. In middle and high school, no one else was interested; in college, it was an all-or-nothing proposition, and I wasn't willing to give up having (something resembling) a life. But I've fallen in with just the right group of nerds now. I was in Chad Williams's excellent Lorin campaign for a while as the unfortunate Paxton, and then returned as Endrew MacKinnon. I was also playing in the Fúindor setting of my friend from college and the fraternity, Ben Mathiesen, until the group fell apart.

Television: !tv

Many geeks have lives that revolve around television.

I do not own a television.

Before I got married, I went without a TV for a year. It was great. Then we decided we wanted to be able to rent movies... eventually, I was watching a few hours every day. When Ellie and I separated, she took the TV, and I decided not to replace it. I think it was a very good decision. Yes, I miss some shows like Buffy and... well, not very much, I guess.

Books: b++(++++)

In addition (or maybe on the other hand), many geeks have lives that revolve around books.

I read a book a day. I have library cards in three states. I have discount cards from every major bookstore. I've ordered books from another country to get my Favorite Author Fix.
I find the time to get through at least one new book a month.
for indicating "cross-overs" or ranges.

I am a compulsive reader. For a while, I was theoretically writing a book, and tried to limit my recreational reading when I should be more productive. I finally realized (actually, my editor realized) that it just wasn't working, and now I read a lot more. In one incarnation of this page, I kept a list of the most recently read books, but that's nearly impossible to keep up to date.

Dilbert: DI++++

Simply the geekiest comic strip in existence. http://www.unitedmedia.com/comics/dilbert/ for more information.

I've received mail from Scott Adams. I'm in the DNRC (Dogbert's New Ruling Class).

Only one piece of personal mail, a cursory thank-you for a pointer to my dot-com disaster saga but many DNRC newsletters. I read Dilbert daily on the Web. It has been frighteningly accurate at several jobs. I particularly enjoyed the Web site's List of the Day when that was running, especially when it involved criminal activity or failed start-ups....


There is a game out for the PCs and other computers called DOOM!. It's a 3D virtual reality simulation where you race around and blow things away with large-caliber weaponry. This has led to a series of similar games such as the Star Wars themed Dark Forces. Tell us about your abilities with these 3D games. (Yes, some of them aren't actually DOOM!. Cope!)

It's a fun action game that is a nice diversion on a lazy afternoon.

I've played DOOM!, though I like Descent better. In general, I stay away from video games because they will immediately suck all of my time away; when I do play games, I tend to favor puzzle-solving games like The Incredible Machine, Myst, or System's Twilight. Plus I tend to kick people while going around corners.

The Geek Code: G++

The Geek Code has become an important part of the Geek Experience. All true geeks recognize the Geek Code, and some can even recite it.

I know what each letter means, but sometimes have to look up the specifics.

Actually, I did make a suggestion for the Geek Code (G++++) once: that it might be useful to have in HTML. Here, have mine. Hayden responded by helpfully suggesting that he would sue me for adding markup to his copyrighted work. Oh, well. He later saw the light and posted Dylan Northrup's half-baked excuse for markup that he has now on the Web. Not that I'm bitter or anything.

(Fortunately, judging from Dylan's home page, his HTML skills have improved considerably since marking up the Geek Code. He still has a prediliction for unnecessary rules; as Mencken said, there is no page whose appearance could not be improved by removing a rule.)

For those of you with CSS-capable browsers, cue rule:


Education: e++*

All geeks have a varying amount of education.

Got a Bachelors degree
I learned everything there is to know about life from The Hitchhiker's Trilogy.

I have a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering from Brown University. I entered and left with the class of '94, but my diploma is dated "die undetricesimo Maii annoque Domini Nostri MCMXCV". It's a long story.

Housing: h

Tell us about your geeky home.

Living with one or more registered Geeks.

I share a three-bedroom apartment in San Francisco's Sunset district with a married couple I know from my college fraternity. I lived by myself for a while in a wonderful two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, the first floor of a Victorian with original hardwood floors and a small yard, but it was too expensive to keep up while self-employed.

Relationships: r

While many geeks are highly successful at having relationships, a good many more are not. Give us the gritty details.

I date periodically.

The period in question is quite long. I had one serious relationship in late high school and early college, and then met Ellie my sophomore year of college. We got married after four years to the day of dating, and then four a half years later we separated. I have a casual relationship with someone right now, and I'm not in any hurry to find a lifemate. Apparently my previously-stated strategy: "I'd rather meet someone cool and become friends first, and see where it goes, than go cruising with desperation vibes radiating all around," worked out acceptably well.

Sex: y+

Geeks have traditionally had problems with sex (i.e., they never have any). Because geeks are so wrapped up in their sexuality (or lack of sexuality for that matter), it is important that the geek be willing to quantify their sexual experiences.

This code also is used to denote the gender of the geek. Females use x in this category, while males use y. Those that do not wish to disclose their gender can use z.

I've had real, live sex.

I used to say y?* (my sex life is none of your business and I'm a pervert) because it amused me to do so. But it's not as funny without the question mark, and I was married. It's not a big secret that married people occasionally do that thing that people do. (Except my parents. I'm sure they don't.) In general, though... it's still none of your business.