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I’ve been found out.

OK, rarely will I write a full post to recommend someone else’s post, but the latest from software-manager-par-excellance Rands is just too good to pass up. He has me nailed. In his latest post, Rands lists off his “Nerd Handbook”. Becky had only to read the first two sentences and she was chuckling in the knowledge that this guy was describing me:

A nerd needs a project because a nerd builds stuff. All the time. Those lulls in the conversation over dinner? That’s the nerd working on his project in his head.

Guilty as charged.

A few other priceless bits:

Understand your nerd’s relation to the computer. It’s clichéd, but a nerd is defined by his computer, and you need to understand why.

First, a majority of the folks on the planet either have no idea how a computer works or they look at it and think “it’s magic”. Nerds know how a computer works. They intimately know how a computer works. When you ask a nerd, “When I click this, it takes awhile for the thing to show up. Do you know what’s wrong?” they know what’s wrong. A nerd has a mental model of the hardware and the software in his head. While the rest of the world sees magic, your nerd knows how the magic works, he knows the magic is a long series of ones and zeros moving across your screen with impressive speed, and he knows how to make those bits move faster.

Yep, that’s me.

Your nerd lives in a monospaced typeface world. Whereas everyone else is traipsing around picking dazzling fonts to describe their world, your nerd has carefully selected a monospace typeface, which he avidly uses to manipulate the world deftly via a command line interface while the rest fumble around with a mouse.

The reason for this typeface selection is, of course, practicality. Monospace typefaces have a knowable width. Ten letters on one line are same width as ten other letters, which puts the world into a pleasant grid construction where X and Y mean something.

Ah, monospaced font, how I love thee.

Humor is an intellectual puzzle, “How can this particular set of esoteric trivia be constructed to maximize hilarity as quickly as possible?” Your nerd listens hard to recognize humor potential and when he hears it, he furiously scours his mind to find relevant content from his experience so he can get the funny out as quickly as possible.

Got me again.

And the most painful:

Your nerd has built an annoyingly efficient relevancy engine in his head. It’s the end of the day and you and your nerd are hanging out on the couch. The TV is off. There isn’t a computer anywhere nearby and you’re giving your nerd the daily debrief. “Spent an hour at the post office trying to ship that package to your mom, and then I went down to that bistro — you know — the one next the flower shop, and it’s closed. Can you believe that?”

And your nerd says, “Cool”.

Cool? What’s cool? The business closing? The package? How is any of it cool? None of it’s cool. Actually, all of it might be cool, but your nerd doesn’t believe any of what you’re saying is relevant. This is what he heard, “Spent an hour at the post office blah blah blah…”

Cool. I mean, ouch.

There is a lot of good stuff that I didn’t quote here, so if you really want to get an insight into me, yeah, go read the article. For my sensitive readers, yeah, there are a couple bad words in the post. Ignore them. Read the rest of it. Well worth it.


  1. AnotherCoward AnotherCoward

    Yeah … I had to buy Rand’s book ’cause (1) Geof recommended it and (2) everything I read by this guy is on the money.

    At work, the book has been jokingly retitled, “Managing Spencer”.

  2. I’ve added the book to my Christmas list.

  3. I’ve totally thought about starting my own Rands fansite. I think that it came to a head when he actually responded to an email of mine. The last time I was that excited by an email was when Tom Clancy sent me an email. Of course, Tom Clancy’s a … word I won’t write in a comment here because Chris’s mom reads this.


    Rands is my management hero.

  4. You got an email from TOM CLANCY?!?!?!?

    Wow. 🙂

    And hmmm… another fan website… might be a worthwhile cause. 😆

  5. I used to post a lot on alt.books.tom-clancy. I defended TC one time, and he thanked me in an email.

    Turns out that he’s a Grade A asshole, though.

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