The Geek Handbook

In 1993 or so, a new zine called Bunnyhop asked me to write a story for their high school issue. I wrote “The Girl’s Guide to Geek Guys” with some help from my friend Victoria Maat. It was extremely dependent on some outdated gender views but still a little bit funny.

Bunnyhop, being way ahead of the rest of the zine world, put it up on their website and people went kind of crazy. The main population of the web at that time was male geeks, so it made sense, but it was wild to watch. The story is still on thousands of sites. At one point Wired magazine put it on their site, without permission, but they eventually gave me some money. I wonder if I was one of the first people to have their work stolen online? Probably not.

I ended up writing a book based on the story for Simon and Schuster. It’s decent, could have been so much better. I really had no idea what I was doing, especially compared to all the Ivy League kids who seemed born knowing how publishing worked, and I had a first-time editor who never gave me any feedback.

People seemed to like it, though, and it’s still in print so I guess that says something. I did a lot of press. Maybe I shouldn’t even put it on here? Feel like I might as well include the mediocre stuff too.

Please enjoy this link to the one and only Marjorie Ingall interviewing me about the book for ancient online community The Well. Just kind of funny to read because no one in the forum can stay on topic and I ended up fielding one question from Marjorie’s dad and one from my mom.

And here is a little bit from the book.

 2.4 Upgrade Strategies

 2.4.1  Make it a challenge, not a request

 Begin by programming your geek to perform simple tasks. Let's say you want
 to finally get the air conditioner working. It's hot, and the only
 thing that is going to make you happy is a nicely chilled house and some
 ice cream. You look over at your geek, who is typing away, oblivious to
 the both the heat and your needs.

 Don't expect your geek to figure out what you want all by themselves.
 Dropping hints that an ordinary human might miss could send your geek into a 
 unproductive subroutine.
 Consider this example:

 You: It's so hot. I am sweating like a pig!

 What You Want to Hear: Oh pookie! Let's get ice cream and crank up the
 air conditioner. 

 What You Will Hear: (not looking up from monitor) Actually, pigs don't
 sweat. Their skin has no sweat glands at all. That is why you will find
 pigs in the mud. Here, I have made a simple PowerPoint presentation which
 will explain the difference to you.

 It's not that your geek lacks sympathy. It is just that geeks are very 
 precise when pinpointing and analyzing problems. If they can't process 
 the information you are presenting, they will focus on flaws in your 
 data. Strange as it may seem, this is their way of debugging you to get 
 the program to work. 

 Now that you know this, you can frame your comments to get the result you 
 want. Run this script:

 You: It's so hot. I wonder if it is possible to put the air conditioner on
 a timer so that it will be cool when we get home from work? Probably not.

 Your Geek: I can do that! Where's my toolbox?

 You: It's here! I'll go get the ice cream.