Since 2006, in certain pockets of the Internet and around the globe, May 25th has been celebrated as Geek Pride Day.Why May 25th? It's the day the original Star Wars came out, of course! An extensive search of the Internets did not reveal an official Geek Pride Day website, so I guess we can consider this holiday to be a distributed network. Still, Wikipedia, that great source of all geek information, lists 10 rights and responsibilities of Geek Pride Day, but many of the so-called rights listed there actually reflect horribly negative geek stereotypes. Take for example, Right #2, "the right to not leave your house," or number five, "the right to have few friends (or none at all)."
These days, a geek isn't necessarily someone with poor social skills or bad fashion sense. It's anyone who enjoys a challenge and likes to push technology and their own technical abilities to the limit. It's not just an iPad user, but the person who tries to jailbreak the iPad (or at least write an app for it that qualifies for geekdom). Fortunately, on Geek Pride Day, everyone can be a geek.
Here are five ways to celebrate:
- Install Linux on you notebook. If you're a hardcore geek, you should have already done this. In fact, you might be an old hand at Linux by now. However, there's no time like the present to install a new flavor of Linux, even if you just installed another one yesterday. You can set it to dual boot with Windows or Mac OS X. If you're looking for a first version of Linux to try, may I recommend Ubuntu, the easiest Linux for newbies to install and use.
- Upgrade your hard drive to a solid state drive (SSD). Sticking with the 5,400- or 7,200-rpm hard drive that came with your notebook is something either a Luddite or a poser geek like John Mayer would do. We've already proven that replacing an old notebook's hard drive with an SSD can add years of life to that system. So break open that piggy bank and buy yourself an SSD. If you're upgrading a netbook rather than a notebook, here's some advice to boot.
- Learn a new programming language. Real geeks aren't just passive technology users; they're developers. So which language should you learn? If you've never built a website, you can start by studying HTML, the language used to format web pages. If you're already familiar with HTML, you may want to brush up on HTML5, which adds exciting new features like offline storage and drag-and-drop support.If you want to write a Windows program, I recommend learning C# programming language. There's an amazing set of C# tutorials at Blackwasp.co.uk, and Microsoft even provides a free development suit called Visual C# Express (opens in new tab). I used C# to develop LAPTOP Magazine's custom battery test.Finally, if things like HTML and C# sound too basic for you, you should celebrate the day by writing an Android app. It could find a home on any number of phones or tablets.
- Install new browsers on your computer and smart phone. If you're any kind of geek and you run Windows, you've likely already dumped Internet Explorer like a bad case of Conficker virus. And if you haven't, get with the times and install Google Chrome; it won our most recent browser showdown, and there's a version for Mac, too.But what about your smart phone browser? Only pretend poindexters use the default browser that their phones came with. If you've got an Android device, try Dolphin Browser or SkyFire. If you have a BlackBerry, give Bolt Browser or Opera (opens in new tab) a shot.
- Customize your computer. Real geeks don't just take what they're given. They hack it! If you have a desktop PC, it's easy to install a window in the case or light it up with colorful fans. But changing the look of a notebook isn't quite as easy. Fortunately, there are skins from the likes of Skinit.com and see-through shells from Speck (opens in new tab). Some notebook vendors make it easy to customize their systems. Sony sells colorful keyboard skins for their laptops, and Alienware notebooks let you change the lighting color on their keyboards, lids, and front edges.
Online Editorial Director Avram Piltch oversees the production and infrastructure of LAPTOP's web site. With a reputation as the staff's biggest geek, he has also helped develop a number of LAPTOP's custom tests, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. Catch the Geek's Geek column here every other week or follow Avram on twitter.