The Curse of Geekhood

Being a geek is a blessing and a curse. The blessing part is that I haven’t seen any popups, gotten a virus, had a catastrophic desktop system crash, or had any of the issues people complain about every day. It’s also nice that if I need software to do something it currently doesn’t do, I can make my own software to do it.

The curse is this:
If a geek can justify the purchase of a piece of technology, they are *not* going to get the product that just “gets the job done”. Examples follow – read on…


My officemate dropped his Sony Clie thie weekend. It fell out of his hand and onto the floor. Somehow, he dropped it in such a way that it looks like it crashed to the Earth after a full millenium of traveling through space after just barely surviving the explosive destruction of the Death Star.

Of course, he used his Clie all the time. For everything. He should – the thing costs hundreds of dollars. That thing should be able to have a pizza waiting for him at his house when he gets home from work. All us geeks complain about the price of technology, too. Know why? ‘Cos we know we’re gonna wind up paying for it anyway. We can’t help it.

So instead of looking at his Blackberry 7290 and saying “Hey, I have a calendar here, an address book, email, phone — good enough”, he immediately is online looking at the new Clie models, the Treo, the Tungsten, the Zire… so I had to go into Devil’s advocate mode:

“Why not just use the Blackberry?”
“If it did what I needed it to do, I would”
“It has a calendar”
“It doesn’t look and act like the Palm one”.

He’s right, it doesn’t. However, his initial gripe about all this was that he could either buy a new PC or a handheld. That’s a helluva choice to have to make, and I for one would be bitter about having to make it (that’s me, I’m bitter). However, it’s way more fun and interesting to buy a handheld than a PC. PCs are boring, and in our line of work we have to look at them often enough that they really get dull. Handhelds do way cooler stuff than PCs, partly just because they can do some of the *same* stuff, but with more portability than a PC.

I had to buy a printer this weekend, because my current printer is a 10-year-old monochrome HP printer. I wanted color, and a duplexer (er, a duplexer means it’ll print on both sides of the paper). Think I got off cheap? Nope. I could’ve spent about $200 less than I did, but NOOOOOOOO. I got a photo printer that can print really nice 4×6 color prints in 36 seconds, which is about half the normal time for that task. It prints black and white pages at a rate of 25 per minute, which is fine for home use. It prints color at about 18 per minute, which is actually really good, and it has a resolution of something like 4500×1200 in color.

I didn’t need all that. I also didn’t need a fax machine or another scanner, or a color copier, all of which are built in.

The curse of the geek is that it is not in our blood to be frugal and practical when shopping for technology items. Especially those which are for personal use.