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Ask An Ordinary Teenage Slashdot User 475

These interviews have gotten pretty celebrity-oriented lately. To break the routine, this week's guest is an unknown, 15-year-old, Linux-using, Slashdot-reading high school sophomore named Clinton Ebadi I met at a local LUG meeting. Clinton's mom, who drove him to the meeting (his first), was happily surprised to find that there was a large group of people (of all ages) out there who instantly accepted and respected her son; his relatives, teachers, and classmates looked at him and saw nothing but a slightly strange, slightly pudgy loner. So ask Clinton anything you like about being a kid geek (a living, breathing Katz character, you might say) or anything else, including MentalUNIX or the ncurses-based front end he's working on for Splay. Post questions for Clinton below. We'll send him 10 selected ones by e-mail, and expect his answers within a week or so.
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Ask an Ordinary Teenage Slashdot User

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Roblimo said that your mom was happy to find people "out there who instantly accepted and respected her son." Do you agree that people who instantly accept and respect someone for any any reason are stupid and not worthy of our praise? Blindly respecting someone based on any reason - is a form of prejudice and a detrimental one to the respector - don't you agree?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...the meaning of life? Be concise and brief.
  • I will admit I can be a bit of an evangalist for General Aviation haveing just got my pilot's licence. Would you be interested in learning to fly for real. Have you heard about the Young Eagles program (http://www.youngeagles.org) or the Civil air patrol?

    The cure of the ills of Democracy is more Democracy.

  • you know, the wierd thing about Kid Rock is, I bought the CD, I don't know why. I listened to it, and frankly, the Lyrics all do suck. Every word. The whole pathetic gangsta rap wanna be angle. Just plain silly.

    Musically, it's not terrible material. A lot of complex beat, and tone, and angry texture - much of it formulaic, but still, it stands apart. If I could get a no-vocals version, I could stand to listen to it.

    The same can be said frankly for a lot of Brittney Spears, and even Christina Aguilerellarellarellarlelrlealrelae, and n*sync. There is some fantastic vocal work, some excellent rythmic exploration, but the end result is somehow just so sucky, and I can't figure it out. I know there's a lot of over-production going on, and much of it is aimed at an industry-wide homogenous "sound", (if you want something different, check out Blink182, or Eiffel65, nyuck nyuck nyuck), and of course I say these GOOD things about music that, just plain doesn't appeal to me at all. I hate it, it hurts to listen to it. I missed out the whole white-guilt suburban hip-hop (gangsta rapper wannabe) phenomenon, (I prefer the old white-guilt suburban reggae/ska thing). And of course the lyrics to this new stuff is just utter garbage, apparently lifted from Teen Magazine letter columns, but it's very hard to criticise music where there clearly is a great deal of talent being demonstrated. Nobody here can say that Brittey Spears does not have a fantastic singing voice, excellent control and vocal range, and can dance "the dance of the seven boners" like nobody else. But they mix and modify it with echo and chorus effects in a way that makes her sound just like every other pop star in the contiuum right now (today's sound) - and the overall effect is just ruined. But how do you argue that with a 13 year old; "You should be listening to Yes or King Crimson, and not this music, this music sucks (empirically) because; __________." . . ?
  • I go to a non-denominational church, I even do volunteer work for them. Got God. No prob.

    Church is also a lonely experience. People say Hi, because they know they "have to" - the whole fellowship thing. Not one actual freindship (like ones I had in college) has developed from it. I never really thought much about Christianity, the whole "religion" thing. I stick with this church because one of the things the pastor keeps saying is that people need more God, and less religion. I totally agree with that.
  • to quote David Bowie.

    "Cha cha cha changes
    Turn and face the strange,
    whoa look out you rock 'n rollers
    Pretty soon you're gonna get older. . ."

    Yeah, I looked forward to that when I was a teenager, then I listen to what's coming out, and I moan, why does it have to suck so?! Is this just me being an old fart? hating new music because it's different from old, from what I'm used to, from what I grew up with, experienced my glory years with? The music that I lost my virginity to, the music that I puked a bottle of peppermint schnapps to -

    Or does this new stuff actually truly really suck?

    I think it sucks. In the empirical sense.
  • naw, I remember the bad stuff from my teenage years too. I wish I could forget.

    Madonna, Prince, Culture Club, Michael Jackson.

    I spent YEARS hoping and praying that Madonna would just GO AWAY. At least Prince did, and Culture Club is now underground-retro-chic because Boy George is a junkie, and well, nobody could like Michael Jackson anymore, now that his sister admitted to liking Coffee enemas. I'm glad 1999 is over, I haven't heard a Prince song since new years day, 2000.

    But Madonna just won't fucking go away - in fact, she's now "creating" fresh new garbage to litter the airwaves with; taking young good looking people who can carry a tune, and using her influence to make them into pop stars (a-la Ricky Martin). Blah. I can't puke enough.

    What next, Madonna doing Smiths cover-tunes?
  • That's funny,
    One of my college friends, well, we married and had kids. But her interests are still not on par- we have a decent relationship, but it's not what I thought marriage would be.

    But ironically, it's often kids that seem to really impact things. Most adults at work are about 5-10 years younger than me, in my area, no kids, so no serious freindships there, I don't have the time to do the stuff they have (road trips to Yosemite on weekends, etc.) - and parents of my kids friends, there's another potential - we interact at cub scouts, basketball, school, etc. But most people with kids my age are 10 years *older*, and again, mostly of a totally different mindset, often, apparently disdainful of the money I've made so young.

    Honestly, I don't mind *some* sports, surfing, rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, - it's the mindless football and baseball I can't stand.

    Well, I'm glad talking made you feel better. Me too in some ways. I maintain that from the first Columbine discussions.

    My original point was, is that this life is often painful - perhaps more painful for some of us than others (though, go ask the captain of the football team if he had a painful high school - they all claim they did). That pain generated a lot of anger in me - and I still carry a lot of that around, but at least I don't use it anymore - it's a self-feeding monster, and often makes things worse. Learning to let go of that anger is important - but I still had the chicken/egg question. Was it the anger that caused the separation, or was it something else that caused the separation that created the anger, and made the separation worse?
  • Sorry, only way I can help you is to tell you - get ahold of your anger.

    When you tell yourself that you're better than all those idiots anyway, ask yourself; are you *really*?
    (I actually just saw a semi-decent movie with this very idea in it; Miss Congeniality, my wife made me see it, yes, it's a chick-flick).

    I once had a very frank discussion with a former "popular girl" at my high-school reunion. "did everybody hate me?"
    "no, everybody liked you, you just always seemed so stuck up."

    Like, wow. I had *no* idea. *I* was stuck up? I thought everyone *else* was.

    So if I were to do anything differently, it would be - stop being angry at other people, stop being so stuck up. Would that help what I perceived to be the root cause of the problem? maybe not. At least it hasn't in the 5 years since I discovered this. But it makes life a lot easier not going around hating everyone and everything, and wondering when you're gonna snap and run through your office with an AK-47. (or becoming the leader of an evil organization, and building a giant "laser" on the moon and using it to destroy all human life on earth - whatever, same difference).

    Losing the anger, self-pity, and other negative emotions may not make you any new friends, but it makes not having any friends a bit more bearable.
  • I am married, have a son and daughter, and my wife is sort of my best friend by default, as in, we moved out of state, so we don't have our old freindships any more, they've all married, got lives, etc.

    She knows of these difficulties, and she suffers from some of the same, and I don't know if it's my fault, or her fault, or if we both have the same problem. At least we have eachother, but her interests are changing, and she's no longer so interested in gaming, or computers (never really was a computer person) -

    I haven't "warned" my son, per se. He does seem to have a problem with athletics, but he doesn't seem to have trouble making friends. He's 7. He's very popular at school, especially with the girls ;). And thank God, he's pretty good at math, unlike both of his parents. I feel I'll basically be there to warn him if things go bad, not to use it as an excuse to be angry at people. I guess sports isn't that important at this age, or maybe it's different now - the focus where I grew up in Illinois was on basketball and baseball and football. Now, he's growing up in California, and basketball is there, but people aren't fanatical about it, and the kids all like the extreme sports, skateboarding, surfing, stunt-bikes, and he IS much better at basketball this year than last year - so maybe there's hope for him.
    His favorite TV show (after Pokemon - yay! a budding anime fan!) is Bill Nye, the Science Guy. So I know he's not gonna be some meathead jock. (his little sister loves Sailor Moon - so Anime does appear to be a genetic trait :)
  • I've also found that, quite often, if you have a superficial friend, and you open up to them, quite often, you'll never hear from them again after that.

    It's very important to find someone like-minded.
  • oh, I don't think that he, or anyone else really has the answer.

    I just want to know if he's thought about it that way.
  • Get out while you still can, kid! Throw out the computer! Play sport! GET SOME FRESH AIR!

    If you don't do that, at least join Crackmonkey. You know it makes sense.

    "Where, where is the town? Now, it's nothing but flowers!"
  • What I don't understand is how you don't know. You were there once also, maybe you just don't want to think about the reality. Or maybe it's so far in the past you don't remember. A little self-observation would tell you.

    It's in the personality. I was already different before I entered school. I had already become mean to people by the time I entered kindergarten, after the time I spent in a pre-school/daycare place. The K teacher tried to correct my attitude, and I learned to be more respectful or tolerant at least. But the social differences persisted and people highlighted them. I grew apart, or maybe I just didn't change. But fortunately for me my interest in computers was supported by my parents and teachers for the most part so I got the attention I needed without things like changing my appearance or messing up my academic performance. My mom tried to force me into activities like sports but I got out of that quickly and into something tolerable, playing the piano.

    During that time I was never severely picked on, but nobody really knew me. It wasn't that the other students disliked me though, I just wasn't interesting to them. They knew I was smart and into computers though. I wasn't interested in what they were doing either. People aren't going to know you just because you exist, it's not fulfilling. The difference is that most people learn to please. They learn what makes others like them, which makes them feel good, and continue with that behavior. That's what makes people popular, that's what makes leaders. And that's simply not a part of my personality. Now that I'm so aware of myself and others it actually hurts me when I feel the need to please someone rather than be myself, even for really insignificant things. For most people it's just natural though. Given all this time to observe social interaction instead of participate, I've built up my own standards. I think people generally suck now, most people are stupid, but I'll give them a chance to open mouth and remove all doubt. I don't want people to annoy me and I won't annoy people. That doesn't help me get any friends but I'm not trying to please people. I don't want friends if there isn't a real interest. If someone is going to be a friend they'll already have a similar interest. In high school and college it's all the same deal for me. I'm so unique in many of my ways and interests that there is no group that I hang out with. I'm alone just about everywhere I go.

    My best friend has similar interests, though I don't know his full perspective on people and life. The rest of the people that know just a little more than my name are people with computing interests. I spend my time on IRC in technology-related channels, waiting to catch some humor or the latest technology update, or inject some. I don't really like most of the people though, but I'm not about to dig a hole and hide in it. Rarely someone will try to get to know a little about me, but their interest quickly fades. This goes for girls too. Many people talk of girls like they're a game, "never had the guts to talk to a girl." Why would you need guts? It's all about interests, if I find a girl that has an interest in computers I might share more than a "hi" with her. The guts saying in a game perspective implies finding a way to please someone without being who you are. Am I single because I don't have the will to talk to a girl or simply because there are very few around that share my interests and even less that meet my standards? It's the latter. I'm also an occasional smart-ass and I have a sense of humor that doesn't cooperate with everyone else. I love sarcasm. So I usually keep my mouth shut (and in turn other people always describe me simply as quiet or shy). My mom, relatives, and female friends of my parents may comment that I'm handsome, but that doesn't mean anything.

    People who actually wish to understand something of what I do call me "talented" and leave it at that. That's what the last girl I talked to said after I set up a school e-mail account on her laptop and she asked about what I do. She knew what "Linux" was, which helped, and I explained the project I was helping with. A year and a half later we still exchange e-mails occasionally, but it's about school stuff. We're on the same campus but we've only run into each other twice since I set up the e-mail. She seems distant, but is it because I'm somehow repulsive? No, she simply doesn't share my interests, so she doesn't want to know much about me. She wants to keep in contact but she'll never know me this way. Only the classes I'm taking and how my vacation went. Maybe I want to know a little about her, I don't have a reason to dislike her yet, but will I ever find out? Unlikely. That's the reality. Maybe she knows something and I could ask her exactly these questions. I'm not motivated enough to bother her about my insecurities. What a way to scare someone off that would be.

    Don't assume that one size fits all either. This is a mind development thing, it can go either way. Interests can drive personality just as much as personality can drive interests, it happens at the same time.

    You don't need to pay someone to figure this out. It's all about reflecting upon yourself and how you relate to others, breaking it down as far as you can. Maybe that takes some of the fun out of life but more people need to do that.
  • I'm continually amazed how often this little "truism" - that geeks of a certain caliber just don't need college - comes up, considering how false it really is. I invite anyone contemplating doing this to somehow contact a CIO or HR higher-up in any medium to large tech company and ask them what problems they have with the IT workers currently in their employ. Probably 90% of the time the answer will be a variation on the following theme: a.) they cannot write/communicate coherently, and b.) they do not work well in teams. I cannot think of a better recipe for acquiring these two traits than to bury yourself behind a computer from 6th through 12th grade. If anything, geeks need college way, way more than most people. College teaches you how to live. College teaches how to do laundry. It teaches you that the world is not fair, that some professors just don't give A's, period, and probably most importantly, jolts you out of whatever Small Pond Syndrome you've been lulled into in secondary school, where you were probably the smartest person you knew. In college, you won't be :) If you're studying computer science at a good college, like mine, then this education goes even further, because the faculty is liasing with those same CIOs and HR people, listening to their complaints, and trying to come up with solutions to them. Hence all of the projects I turn in now and done in groups rather than individually, and there's a big emphasis on being able to document what you've done in well constructed setences.

    Second, I don't think I've ever met a single person - ever - in any of my CS classes who found the whole "college experience as a waste of time considering [their] current skills." This is at a school that consistently ranks in the top 3 US undergrad CS programs in the country, so it's bound to attract a lot of really, really smart people. I went off to university conversant in probably 6 different languages, having written multiple, large projects in at least 3 of them. I really did think I knew my shit, and in hindsight, that wasn't really true. While there are certain areas of computer science that most geeks have probably picked up on their own (data structures, for one), you aren't going to have just gleaned everything from hacking code unless you posses an extraordinary amount of intelligence, in which case, more power to you. But I think that most people don't fit in this category, and I have the Bell Curve to back me up...

  • The Mensa cutoff is 132, my friend. To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, "You can always tell the 131s from the 132s". :)
  • Sorry; I wasn't intending to contradict something you said. Just adding my 2 cents to the topic in general.
  • Most folks your age like to write a lot if they are intelligent, which you probably are. Do you write poetry?

    Oh come on... that's a loaded question... I was/am (hopefully will be)intelligent, but had and have no desire to write. I hate writing... can't keep up with my thoughts....

    However, kids his age typically *are* influenced by peer pressure, and the need to "fit in"; shame on you for wording a question this way!

    Good: Do you write?

    Bad: Smart people write... do you?

  • Even a dedicated bithead like yourself probably gets away from the box now and again. What other interests do you have? What things do you like to read? Do you listen to and/or play/sing music? Are you interested in art? How do you interact with other children?
  • I agree with fizban. You may feel awkward and embarassed going to a psychiatrist, there is still a stigma attached to it... "What's wrog with him? He goes to a head shrinker, he must be crazy."

    But it's no big deal, and a good psychiatrist will not only make you feel comfortable (he'll probably tell you stories about going to see his psychiatrist) he'll probably even actually help you!

    Just swallow your pride and talk some of these issues through with a trained professional and you'll probably gain a new outlook on your life. It helped me with a similar problem, it might help you too.

    "Free your mind and your ass will follow"

  • A LOT of the early beatles stuff was bubblegum 2-minute melodies that became mega-popular, like Britney Spears today.

    That's true, but even their early bubblegum stuff was far more musically complex and innovative than much of the other pop music of the time. Have a listen to the opening chord of "A Hard Day's Night", or even the ending of "Please Please Me", their very first nationwide hit. Then go and do some research to find the other big-selling songs of the time. Contrast and compare.

  • Back in the deep dark recesses of the 1980's, I grew up hacking a little C64 BASIC, but through the late 80's and early 1990's PC's made the barrier to doing "cool stuff" gradually higher and higher. There is a view on Slashdot and elsewhere that that this high barrier of background knowledge that you need to produce useful, interesting programs discourages "larval stage" hackers.

    So what did you start on? Visual Basic? Batch files? Visual C++? Or did you start programming only after you installed Linux?

  • Gawd, now that you mention it, I did start hitting the sauce pretty hard about the same time as passing the McSE! And must pass 2K by year end, hope the liver can take it....

  • I'm assuming that you're not perfectly happy and intellectually challenged by your current classes.

    How would you go about improving the education you've received?

  • How do you feel being compared to a "Katz character"? As many of the readers here would associate this description as being a kid on the brink of a breakdown and shooting up his/her high school.

    And before I get modded down, this is a serious question. The way Jon Katz describes smart high schoolers, he seems to think they are all taunted for being nerdy or geeky.
  • I'm 16 and addicted to music in all forms. MP3 technology has offered me a quick and easy way to check out new released by artists and gain a better understanding of music. Most of the crappy music coming out in this day and age is caused by marketeers who know such music is profitable. It's a pity that society's bandwidth is eaten up by such empty acts, but it's a fact of life.

    I'm currently listening to a rip of a 60's band from a vinyl copy at 192kbps, old school media with new school distribution. My work offers me access to their T-1, so my hard drive is always filled with some kind of great, quality music.

    Sure geophile, it may look like the music industry is putting out nothing but trash, but if you look hard enough, you'll find some great bands. You just need to keep your mind open to new types of music. Most people who complain about modern selections aren't really open to anything but the music they've been listening to for the past twenty years.

    Check out Squarepusher, the Smashing Pumpkins' Machina II album, DJ Shadow, Aphex Twin, the Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, and new albums by your older artists, such as David Bowie.

    Don't be so quick to write off rap, either. There are a lot of bands which are innovative with their lyrics. At the risk of sounding like yet another white boy with a rap fetish, you might want to check out Wu-Tang Clan, Capone and Noreaga, Busta Rhymes, and Dead Prez. Any band rap group that samples gunshots on their album is just fine by me, thanks.

    Techies that anger me are now banished with, "BITCH! I'll put my dick on your lips."
  • I think, Mr. AC, that this may be a question of understanding. Your question is valid, but is perhaps a bit out of context, and somewhat trite in nature.

    Clinton's mom found him among like-minded intelligent people, who understood her son's needs and wants, where he could actually interact socially instead of being looked at as "different" or "weird". From the links Roblimo provided one would assume that he's writing a front end for a command-line MP3 app and helping to build a new Linux distro from the ground up. To any geek that met Clinton, this would be worthy of a fair amount of respect. Initially, anyway.

    Pehaps your question would have been better phrased as "How difficult was it to be acepted by your fellow geeks, even though you're only 15 years old? Did they treat you as an equal, or give you the "wunderkid" treatment?"
  • > In other words, new music sucks because the RIAA learned that you don't need good music to make a profit.

    Half the commercials on my cable channels are Time-Warner's advertisements for the other cable channels.

    When you have huge corporations controlling both the production and distribution of content, don't expect high standards for the content.

  • First off Clinton I applaud you for having the courage to be slashdotted.

    I too am in high school and at 17 I'm pretty close to the same age. I have a feeling that I am a different kind of geek though. I still love computers, I'm going to go to college to study them, I know what Linux, Gnome, and MPEG are, but I have other interests as well.

    I used to be a mean know-it-all in grade school. I don't know why it was pretty dumb really. I knew the answer to the math questions in my head while everyone else was scribbling, I always let people know it too. And then I realized I should change. I quit being condescending all the time and started to like people. They liked me back. I just try to be nice to people and I got along much better. I'm not trying to say that you are mean to everybody, that is just how I was. Now I am involved in lots of activities, I was just named Winterfest King(homecoming king for basketball) and I have a wonderful girlfriend.

    You like me have probably but put down in the past and ridiculed. But I was wondering if you had tried fitting in. Dressing nicely and letting other people answer isn't all bad. I read someplace in this discussion someone said Computer Nerds are becoming sort of the in thing. Everybody loves ICQ and Napster so people out with it.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Once again I admire you for putting yourself into this position. Good luck in all that you do.
  • I am going to answer your answer for myself. I am technically a teenager, 18 years old.

    Everyday I wake up thinking I can change the world. This software movement that we all have witnessed---the free software movement, is changing the world and I so much want to be a part of it. There is barely a day that goes by when I don't have a thought or idea that I beleive (for at least a limited time) can improve things dramatically.

    I don't beleive people should put their means of communication, their business, their work, or their art, in the whims of someone else's intellectual property.

    You are right in that a lot of technology industry is motivated by greed. I know that how successful I seem to my family will depend on how much income I make. And I don't care. Because when I read mailing list archives and release notes of technology, when I study manuals for programming languages and markup languages, and when I participate in certain IRC channels and USEnet groups and correspond with intelligent people from who knows where---from who cares where, I know that this is for *real*. We live in a world of our own where success is measured on a different scale.

    The success in our community is based a lot on prestige, rather than income. When someone says that they are a Debian developer, I think intuitively that that is a successful person. When someone says that they are a GNOME hacker, they are a successful person.

    I will be joining the technology community someday with these ideas in mind. And I will know I am not alone.

    I love software. I love what it can do. I used to program in QBASIC, when I was stuck in the box of which it allowed me to do. Now I find myself wondering in this much larger field called the free software community and I can barely start coding when I spend so much time investigating all this technology. From XML to Haskell to Bonobo to Berlin to Latte to CORBA---these are all things that I am only beginning to understand. I want to manipulate these systems...they are incredible.

    They are also the tools we use to change the world.
  • Yeah. And Rhys Fulber rules!
  • that is exactly what i thought when i read the story. i'm sure he's a nice kid, but i think some of the questions (especially the ac's) can do more harm than good.

    i know he's only going to get the top 10, but if he comes here he's sure to see some of the crap. i'm sure he reads /. and knows what to expect (goat sex and all), so i hope he doesnt take things too colsely to heart.

    use LaTeX? want an online reference manager that
  • Quake/Unreal Tournament/Counter-Strike/Tribes?

    Seeking; proceeding by inquiry.

    A specious but fallacious argument; a sophism.
  • Most of the cancer-causing chemicals are created by _burning_ plant materials (toboacco, or others).
    I am not disputing this assertion, but Jack Herer's book "The Emperor Wears No Clothes" [jackherer.com] has an interesting theory. He states that tobacco companies use fertilizer that contains phosphates contaminated with low-level radioactive particles. If you inhale such a particle it will remain in your lungs radiating away.

    It makes sense, as hundreds of thousands die yearly from smoking tobacco. If cannibis was as harmful as tobacco, doesn't it follow that hundreds of thousands of cannibis smokers would get lung cancer too?
    You think being a MIB is all voodoo mind control? You should see the paperwork!
  • My question would have to be what influenced you to take a shot at using linux?

    Back when I got into it, it was because I was tired of getting nuked off irc and had heard that only this unknown OS called Linux was what these nuke kiddies were using to do it. So I set off to find out what Linux was and use it to defend myself.

    Now, 5 years later. I run IRC servers on it, database servers, use it as a work station and run web servers. I never did get around to learning how to nuke people with it though.

  • When I was your age (many moons ago), pop-culture was the "thing", and was hardly questioned by teenagers of the period. We had our our stars and icons, and the various other accoutrements that accompany such things...

    I imagine we didn't question it much because there wasn't any way to question it - we couldn't really publish on our own, and it was hard to spread word about the "bad" things corporations do.

    With the internet at your disposal, and at the disposal of your peer group - do you question these things? I tend to think you would, since you read /. - but do your peers? Or do they simply take the stuff that is fed them, without questioning it? If that is the case, does this lead to a lot of "friction" in whatever social life you have with your peers?

    I am just curious as to how today's teens see the corporate world around them, which looms large, vs. what was around us when I was younger...?

    Worldcom [worldcom.com] - Generation Duh!
  • When I had a yearning to learn computers, the closest I could get in an american high school was an electonics course. I was fortunate to have a good teacher who had created a good program out of very little resources. Now, computers are just another electronic tool for me.

    Does your school offer the types of courses you are interested in? Are there programs to help boost students into various careers, such as programming, electronics, and any other technical skills? If there isn't, how do you and the other geeks at your school cope? If there are programs in place, are you taking advantage of them as much as possible? Have you looked into taking entry level university courses at night to help satisfy your geek skill level?

    the AC
  • I'm "only" 21 and in the span of about 5 years it seems musica has pretty much gone to shit. About 70% of the people I really liked are either dead or havent produced anything for a LONG time. The other 30%, fortunately have continued on and produced more cool stuff (with the exception of perhaps U2's discotheque CD, but I hear they have a better one out). There are only a handful of decent new bands (IMHO). The rest is New Kids on the Block rip off, pop crap.

    And for the record I do appreciate "classic" 60s, 70s, (hey, even 50s) music. It just seems that all that you hear on the radio these days is prefabricated pop-crap. It's not that it sounds *bad*...but that it is so disgustingly contrived and retreaded (of course generations before me probably say that about everything I like).
  • A LOT of the early beatles stuff was bubblegum 2-minute melodies that became mega-popular, like Britney Spears today.

    BUT, the Beatles shed that image, and that's when things got REAL good(Abbey Road, etc). Probably their strangest song was "run for your life" where it sounded like a typical Beatles song, until you realize they are singing about killing a woman. Pure brilliance.
  • A lot of people are asking about the state of "the virtual world in 5 years" or how this programming language compares or contrasts to another, but honestly, those aren't the kinds of questions I think this interview was intended for. You can get that commentary from boring old industry professionals(read: Katz). I think I'm more interested in your point of view.

    You're 5 years younger than I am. Are you enjoying life? Do you think that being a "geek" fullfills you as a teenager? Are you interested in the kind of educational atmosphere that college presents? Do you feel like you're getting much out of high-school?

    What do you think of the majority of your peers(13-18 year old), and is the "geek" bug biting a larger portion of them in comparison to just 10 years ago? I'm interested in how things have changed in a short time and the attitude of your age group toward being "smart" or gifted in the field of technology, specifically computers. Thanks for the more refreshing point of view.

  • "It is only the ignorant who despise education." - Publius Syrus, 42 B.C.

    Perhaps, but what goes on in American public schools is less education than it is indoctrination and day-care.


    Despite the popular belief that shrinks are of no use to anyone, I'd seriously suggest you go see one. You'll find that a psychiatrist will help you get through some of these issues and help you find the answers you seem to be looking for.

    Some little 15 year old aint gonna help you out here. Just like you, this kid probably doesn't know all the things that make him a loner and probably hasn't thought about it much, either.


  • alternate question: just how crusty are your sheets?

    "I will gladly pay you today, sir, and eat up

  • Yeah, let's look at how Britney Spears' music works.

    Some unknown guy with a synthesizer makes the music, according to what a committee determines is most likely to get stuck in their target market's collective head.
    The producers make it catchy so you can't get the damn thing out of your head.
    The backup singers carry the tune.
    The advertisers sell the music.

    Britney Spears' job is to look pretty and make horrid groaning noises.

    No wait, the groaning noises are probably added in by the producer too. Her job is to look pretty.

    And for some bizarre reason, this sells CDs that, I assume, people listen to.

    There's no logic behind it, but it works. Watch for the logical extension: Claudia Schiffer (or insert some other woman here, if you prefer) (uh-oh, here come the trolls with their favorite statue) standing naked while catchy music plays. They'd announce it on the radio with "And here's Generic Song #8 with Claudia Schiffer standing naked! Woo!"
    Obfuscated e-mail addresses won't stop sadistic 12-year-old ACs.
  • being a 16-year old brainkid

    Congratulations that you're so smart and all, but it really is ridiculous that you consider yourself a "brainkid". NO one, and I mean NO one should consider themselves smarter than the rest, it's just a recipe for becoming an asshole hermit, heh. We're all smarter than others in some way, especially many of the very technically-inclined folks on /. but thinking that of oneself is something that cannot be only thought; it will be represented in who you are and how you act. And it's great that people tell you that you're so smart you should be older or whatever, but take it as a compliment and keep your head size in check.
  • If he's a slashdot reader, why doesn't he just reply in this article to the questions that he feels like answering?
  • Oh, I don't think it is truly loaded at all. As I state, most of the kids I know around 15 do like to write. That's not loaded at all. I'm simply framing the question in a way that makes sense to me. On the other hand, I'm not being 100% objective either. That is boring, dull, and won't lead to a good interview. Let him tell me that I am full of shit or that I am asking a bad question. This question has noting to do with peer pressure or trying to make him fit in.

    Most of the the better interviews are loaded, by the way. Watch Larry King or Oprah and you will see that they asked very guided questions, yet they throw people off all of the time too. Those are the best interviews. Now, if I asked when he stopped beating his grandmother, well, that would be a poor question.

    Last thought: Most people do write. In fact, almost any intelligent person will disply intelligence by producing something. Perhaps if I asked about how he likes to produce and display himself, you would be more satisfied. Then he could talk about coding and sketching. But again, that is vague and useless. Let the kid answer his own question. Let him shoot it down.

    Now let's moderate the original posting up to a 5 so we can find out what he likes to read and write.

    The questions are good. Let them stand.

    John S. Rhodes
    WebWord.com [webword.com] -- Industrial Strength Usability

  • True, they are good lyrics, but they don't say much and have the worst presentation I can think of. I think I'll stick to TS Eliott for good writing.

    uhrm, when i say they have good writers, i mean music writers (ie. composers), not lyracists. their hamonies are well done, their "hooks" are excellent, and the songs are very well produced. their lyrics are cheesy as hell, but i never understood this: who listens to music for the lyrics?! that is the strangest thing to me. most lyrics in most bands are written by some highschool dropout (or in the case of the boy bands, written to appeal to teenagers). i completely agree that if i want "lyrics" i'll read poetry. but that wasn't what i was saying: it's the music that's written well.

    - j

  • The rave/techno scene in its multitudinously fragmented genres is pumping out awesome stuff left and right, though.

    true, true. but even the "rave/techno scene" is being infected by "big business," especially trance music. the stuff that Jules is playing these days, and the countless Ibiza bullshit albums are complete toilet.

    plus there's lot of people who have no clue what they're doing producing underground music. part of the problem (or as i say, the fun) is that it's completely unfiltered: you have to search out what you like from a mountain of garbage. this turns a lot of people off "techno," as they actually have to listen to the music and follow the labels and producers they like. of course most people take the "easy" way out, and just latch on to a favourite dj and have them do the filtering. i'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but it's interesting to consider what that means--that djs are now the "rock stars" instead of the "musicians."

    but you're right: if you want to find the truly imaginative and ground-breaking music, it's in the "techno" scene. and i always say, if you're not finding something you like, you're not looking hard enough. from breaks to jungle to trance to house to drum'n'bass, there has to be something that interestes most people.

    i've found what i like the most: UK Hard House. it has a lot of "sameness" to it, but there are some very talented people writing this stuff, and it's your basic fun "party" music. i listen to other music for sitting around, but when you want to go out, have fun, and dance your ass off, you can't really beak UK Hard House or Nu-NRG.

    but we're way off topic here, and i'm probably going to loose some of my precious karma (heaven forbid). i'd be intersted in seeing what this kid likes to listen to as well. of course, it's entirely possible that he's not that interested in music, and then just listens to something "easy" (like for instance, what's played on the radio, like Modern Rock or something).

    (of course, there's nothing necessarily wrong with "easy" music. i'm a closet Backstreet Boys and N-SYNC fan myself. you know, the do hire some of the best writers in the business!)

    - j

  • Well ... I believe your first impulse is the correct one, but BeOS and the BSD's also come to mind.
  • I went to college and got a degree in Philosophy. So now I'm a software engineer and I find myself wondering why I went at all sometimes. Sure, I had many good times, but I could have had those outside school. I also learned a bunch, but more from the books than anything else - which I surly could have gotten outside school. So, since you seem more than apt to be able to find interesting and rewarding career paths as you are today, will you even bother with college - or will that just be a big waste of time and money?
  • Judging music of the 2000's (the decade) by Britney Spears, N*Sync, and the Backstreet Boys is as assinine and irresponsible as judging The Who, Genesis, and the Beatles (the music of the 1960's and 1970's) by disco, bubble gum pop, and all of the one hit wonders of the 1960's.

    Music today has absolutely nothing to do with the current artists you mention. Most of the best artists today do not get publicity and you do not hear them on the radio or MTV. This has always been the case. You simply have no clue at all if you judge music by those standards, and perhaps you are intentionally trying to hide from the best music.

    It must be really boring to listen only to thirty year old music for your whole life.
  • You think the Beatles were one of the best artists of the 1960's? You are the one on crack. The Beatles were the boy band, and possibly the most overrated performers of any art form of the 20th century. The Beatles got all of the publicity (and sucked), while other artists (for example, the jazzers), got relatively less exposure, but were more influential and more talented.
  • I don't think those are really "problems" leading up to each other.

    I've always been interested in computers, but up to a certain point, I was a pretty normal kid (who just happened to start coding at 8, without turning into some "monster").

    Things started to get different in highschool - I
    I never went to dances (I'd much rather have my fingers dancing on the keyboard than stepping on people's feet), and started to find most "normal" people's attitudes weird (they don't care about all that interesting stuff, and all they talk about is how they want to date [name removed] because she looks so good? I wouldn't date her if she begged me to! No matter what she looks like, she's overly selfish and stupid, and doesn't share any of my interests! (#include ).

    This sort of stuff made me somewhat of an outsider, causing me to spend even more time with the computer, causing me to discover Linux 0.99.11, causing me to spend even fewer time with "normal" people, causing me to spend even more time with the computer...

    So, at least for me, it's not a clear A + 1 month = B, more a (1/2)(A+B) + 1 month = (3/4)(A+B)

    [For the record: I think I've arrived at (7/8)(A+B) and will stay at precisely that point. I'm 23, I've never had a date, but I do know some people who aren't geeks and can get along with them, so it's probably not a gradual process that must eventually end up in (A+B).
  • We do have an important struggle to leap into right now - most people are just not seeing it.

    The Free (Software) World must get evil dictators like Microsoft, MPAA or RIAA under control.

    Change the world - write some code today. ;)
  • Can EverCode get their phone numbers? I think that's what he's trying to say.
  • I thought that was you, Justin. ;) (it's Joe)

    This is somewhat OT, but I think it should be noted that being a "computer geek" and being in the Magnet have become fairly synonymous at Blair. Everyone thinks that I am a magnet student upon first meeting me. That may be a combination of the Palm, the glasses, and the computer know-how.

    I think the magnet makes for a unique situation at Blair. Computer "geeks," as you noted, have a place to go, a group that will accept and understand them (Ack, Katz attack! Help!) and that is, in a manner of speaking, "school-sanctioned."
    Also, we have a very large school population, so groups like that really don't get picked on much (in my experience).

    Just thought I'd share these thoughts.

  • And if you like Op Ivy, check out Common Rider. I think it's one of the guys from Op Ivy, but don't quote me on that.

    Lot's of good ska out there. Slackers, King Chango, Hepcat, DHC, NY Ska-Jazz Ensemble...

    There is tons of good stuff being made today in many genres (I've been into insurgent country lately. Check out Bloodshot Records [bloodshotrecords.com]), not that you can tell by listening to the radio or watching MTV.

  • A blank computer? Isn't this the same as saying "What would you rather install, Windows or Linux"? Or maybe you meant any CD to load into a computer running his OS of choice, which would include games, etc?
  • For birds L/D(max) is about 1. (that's Lift/Drag ratio which is basically the same as Thrust/Weight during flight).

  • take off a couple of hours for exercise and interaction
    That assumes that the world wants to interact with you. Nice sentiment, but not always the case in real life.
  • Clinton, I'm [mbhs.edu] a Linux loving, Palm using, GNU C++ coder like yourself (I'm 17). I'm in a rather unique situation however. I attend the Math, Science, Computer Science Magnet Program at Montgomery Blair High School. [mbhs.edu] This means that I'm around a decent amount of geeky kids like me. I've been able to set up MBLUG [mbhs.edu] and I'm also a student computer operator. We've got a lot of technology available at our school, as well as adults who help us take advantage of this technology.

    What is your experience in this area? Is your school technology have or have-not? Do you have a crowd of computer geeks at school or are you the solitary one? Are you shunned for your geekiness or accepted?

    Best of luck,

  • I see that you're writing some software, which from personal experience I know is no small task, regardless of the language or goals of the project. Being in college, I basically only write code during breaks or right away in the beginning of the semester, when my work load is light.

    I remember high-school to be just as hectic as college, with the addition of the hormonal upheaval caused by adolescence. How do you find time to write code? How do you think it has affected your lifestyle (compared to your non-geek peers)?


  • Desert Island Shipbuilder's OS v1.02. Includes special software to calculate planking requirements, determine hull stresses, and provide instruction for fabrication of naval hardware from primitive components such as vines, palm fronds, and coconuts.

    This is the /. version of the guy who was asked "what book would you like to have on the island" and the response was "Smith's practical guide to shipbuilding" or something like that.

  • How do you feel about being described as "a slightly strange, slightly pudgy loner" on an international news site?
  • Is it just me, or my g-g-g-generation, or does new music really suck?

    New *pop* music sucks.

    The rave/techno scene in its multitudinously fragmented genres is pumping out awesome stuff left and right, though.

    What's happening is that pop music has become a commodity designed and marketed by suits, and DJs have taken over the cutting-edge space that bands used to be in.

    Think about it. How many top ten singles on any given week are from a music-industry created band? Least six or seven, right? How many was it in the early 80's say? Like, once in a blue moon, right?

    And that, my friend, is the problem. It is not we that suck, it is the record industry that sucks, and the little goobers who don't know any better than to buy the pap they're fed that suck. And therefore the pop music scene sucketh.
  • Do you think that, thanks in part to the internet, geeks feel pressured to fit certain stereotypes in that same way that other young "groups" do? How do you think that you differ from the typical geek? Do you like sports, are you socially active, etc.?
  • . I know my fave was Capsella because of the motors and gears, but there was always a big box of Legos in my house, too.

    Oh my God, dude! I still have a box of those somewhere in my house! Sure, I'm 15, but I remember playing with my Capsela creations for hours back in the day. Although it kinda got annoying when the voice activated stuff wouldn't listen to you half the time...

  • by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @02:16PM (#1417385) Homepage
    How 31337 are you?

  • by Zachary Kessin ( 1372 ) <zkessin@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @10:54AM (#1417386) Homepage Journal
    I would be very careful about responding to this one. Remember most drugs are Illegal, and even beer is if you are 15. If you have used them talking about it on a web site with a readership as large as /. is not smart.

    Remember anything you say here is public and therefore can come back to haunt you. The person who may be holding your college app in 3 years may be reading this right no.

    Remember the 5th ammendment allows you to shoot yourself in the foot, it just says they can't force you too.

    The cure of the ills of Democracy is more Democracy.

  • by Aphelion ( 13231 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @08:24AM (#1417387) Homepage
    "It is only the ignorant who despise education." - Publius Syrus, 42 B.C.

    How do you feel about higher education? I understand that there are a lot of undue challenges you face (from your teachers, for example) in high school because of whom you are. Do you think this might discourage you from higher learning?

    Many a UNIX admin are donning a job instead of college, but don't realize that they will be the first to go once a recession comes around. How do you feel about this possibility?
  • by Jose ( 15075 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @11:21AM (#1417388) Homepage
    Why are you making yet another Distro? From your specs page [sourceforge.net], it looks like it is fairly standard, not too much new. nman sounds cool, same with some of your new config tools. mdevelop/xmdevelop sound like overkill...why not wpe, and xwpe?
    To me a Fork off an existing distro would be best..

    oh, and are you going to be following the LSB and the FHS to the letter? (it would be a nice change)

    Just Curious...

  • by stepson ( 33039 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @11:50AM (#1417389) Homepage Journal
    Yea, screw john katz anyway. What would slashdot know about 15 year old boys and them using linux ... oh wait ...
  • by TurboJustin ( 34296 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @08:06AM (#1417390) Homepage
    Do you use any drugs? Before discounting this question, take into account that it's being posted by a recent HS graduate who, for the most part, fits the same description.. would like to compare notes ;p peace
  • by stuyman ( 46850 ) <laurenceb.gmail@com> on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @11:52AM (#1417391)
    As a Unix Admin who is 18 years old and only graduated HS last June, I probably have a reasonably unique perspective on the situation. I've been fooling around with Unix stuff for years, but had taken up my time with too many other things to do it for money until I graduated. I spent the entire summer as an intern for a rising dotcom (there are so few these days) and in the fall went off to college. I'm currently on my winter break, working again at the same place. I realize that I could practically triple my pay, plus get benefits, if I were to drop out and work full time, but I think the true geek in all of us realizes there may be more in life than computers. What you ask?

    I'm currently going for a double major in Computer Science (but of course) and (gasp) philosophy. Interesting stuff. I'm also getting more advanced education in the sciences and math, and exploring history and literature in more detail than I previously was able. I'm also starting a band (I can sort of play the guitar, but not well yet) and just hanging out and having fun. I'm not there for the money, or even learning a career. Basically I'm there for the education, and for the experience. I encourage all of you who are still in HS to go on to college, and those of you who are in college to stay there. The jobs will be waiting when you graduate, but you can never go back and be young again.

  • by Ted V ( 67691 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @09:46AM (#1417392) Homepage
    I'm just 23 right now, but I'm an avid Jethro Tull Fan. Their new music is good, but in a different way from their old music. My favorite Tull album was released the very month I was _born_! So it's not just a generations thing (although I'm not a Beatles fan), and I still listen to some random 80s and 90s music.

    Quite honestly, music really does suck now. It's not your imagination. The problem is that people learn to like whatever they're told to like. And since the early 90s (maybe 1993), the record companies have put more and more control into the radio stations. That's why you'll hear stuff like, "Here's the new one from N'Sync!" when the song was released 9 months ago. Radio has turned into music advertising for a few selected bands that the RIAA has chosen for the "big money winners" this year. This lets them better predict which CDs will sell well, maximizing profits.

    In other words, new music sucks because the RIAA learned that you don't need good music to make a profit.

    Incidently, this profit maximization is the reason the RIAA hates Napster. It gives people access to a very wide range of songs which makes it nearly impossible to predict which CDs people will buy next.

  • by Stskeeps ( 161864 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @08:08AM (#1417393) Homepage
    Okay, as being a 16-year old brainkid, I have experinced a lot of times, people saying that - you cannot be 16! you're too damn smart!. Have you ever experinced that - to people _not_ belieivng you are so young? I mean, people think I'm like 24. Also, how did you learn to code? Books? Education? Parents/Family?. Also, can you combine "life"(whatver it is) and your "geek" life?. If not, my advice is that you should learn to have both a life, and be a geek at the same time - you'll end up alone else =P
  • I'm only a somewhat older geek, and perhaps even borderline at that, but I definitely want to say that it can all work out quite well, and I'm quite happy with my life except for being a bit too busy this year. I emailed you in case you want any commentary or advice about anything - or whatever. But no addy of mine on /., please.

    I have two question sets:
    My first is what do you think of school? What things in school did the best job of teaching you? What were the worst things? Do you consider the experience a good one? What could be better? What could be done better by the professionals who run them, in particular? Did you think your teachers were well enough trained in their subjects? How often do you pursue learning in depth material that isn't computer related?

    The second is what's your opinion of math? Do you like it? I've found some bipolarity among geeks and math... I'd be most surprised if you said you were indifferent or "average" about it... have you taken calculus yet? Have you thought about looking into it on your own? (One of my quests is to teach calc to 5th graders, or so - and I think it's important)

  • by 11223 ( 201561 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @11:21AM (#1417395)
    Do you plan to spend your life working with computer technology? Or do you plan to work with ideas greater than yourself, and help decide humanity's course for the very long-term future? Do you plan to spend your life on the only things that are real in that their existance is not linked to sensation, ideas, or do you plan to waste it on the temporal surroundings?

    In other words, will you be content with the normal life? Or would you rather emulate the model of Thoreau, who when put in jail felt it no restriction on his freedom because he worked with ideas and not the physical world?

  • by Tin Weasil ( 246885 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @08:29AM (#1417396) Homepage Journal
    Here's my question:

    Way back when, when I was a 15-year-old BBS geek, the hot technologies were the C64, TRS-80 and the recently released Macintosh and Amiga computers (none of us kids gave a second look at the IBM PC.)

    I was just wondering if you have taken any time to seriously consider what the future of Information Technology might be, and what, if anything, you are doing now to make sure that you will have the skill you need to get a good job once you get out of High School/College.

  • by Rigid_Glitch ( 264755 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @01:46PM (#1417397)
    I just spent the evening talking to three relatives who grew up in Nazi Germany.

    They were one of the few families in their hometown who had a radio - they tuned in to hear warnings of oncoming American and British bomber squadrons that were systematically carpetbombing the German civilian populace.

    They told me of the horror they experienced when they accidentally turned the dial to a station that broadcast allied radio. Why? The Nazis had made it a crime punishable by death to listen to allied radio broadcasts.

    Now you, frekio say "don't even talk about drugs because it might get you in trouble."

    This is an analogous situation. People who are not commiting a crime (by any reasonable definition) are being persecuted by a state (the US), and you advocate that we all pretend that this is all hunky dory. Everybody toe the line! Nobody say anything while the state machinery puts hundreds of thousands of innocents in concentration camps (federal prisons).

    WAKE UP. We all have a responsibility to speak the truth -- this IS a free society isn't it? Or is this Faschism?

    The Nazis usurped power and executed every dissenter. YOU live in a democracy. The world's "lantern of freedom and liberty". Right? So PLEASE make some use of the freedoms you have left. This is realty. You leave a legacy. You have a responsibility.

    We ALL DIE. DEAL with it. Do something with the rest of your life, and the freedom you have left.
  • by jafac ( 1449 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @10:30AM (#1417398) Homepage
    I look back at my childhood and adolescent years with a sense of dread and shame.

    I don't know if I was rejected by my peers, or if I just didn't fit in, and perceived that I was rejected. I always knew that somewhere along the line, I realized I wasn't interested in the same things the other kids were, I didn't have fun doing what they did, and they didn't have fun doing what I wanted to do - and I suddenly began being excluded from things, and I don't know if this was because of a declined invitation, or out of dislike for my company. \

    But once it began, it was self-perpetuating. As a psychological defense, of course, I hated them back. If I was not invited, I didn't want to be. I spent a lot of time alone, and bitter. It has taken me decades to come to grips with this, if I even have yet. I keep trying to "start over", to try to get friendly with new groups, trying to get into what they're doing, but eventually, it ends up the same, a sense that I'm an outsider. The only time I felt like I belonged was in a group of people who had the same interests, in college, the Science Fiction and Fantasy book club. We liked the same games, same movies, same books, same music, there were sub-groups within the larger group (anime, pagan/fantasy, war games, computers, etc.), but we all had in common these basic interests. We had a truly bizzarre set of relationships, we went to cons together, (this was pre-(boom)internet). Since then, we've all grown up, moved apart; across the country, and don't spend much time together anymore. Since then, I've found that I haven't been able to get these same kinds of relationships back. I've tried making friends at work, (computer people), I've tried making friends with neighbors (even taking on interests in things like sports, which bore me no matter how hard I try), I've tried making friends online. None of it has worked long term. I wonder if its me.

    So my question is; for people that are loners, outsiders, is there some factor in their personality, that makes them unable to fit in with groups, which drives them to "unpopular" interests, or is it the interest in unpopular things that ultimately makes them unable to make friendships easily?

    I know that a lot of it revolves around sports for some people I know; physical disabilities (or just plain not being athletic) - keeps them out of sports. I know that my son has a HUGE drive to be "the best", to be praised, and trumped as a champion at whatever he does, and if success does not come easy, he's just plain not interested in that anymore - so I wonder if I was like that as a small child - I sucked at basketball, and required an unusual amount of praise to be happy doing it, and so, quit doing it, stayed out of it, and made it apparent to my young friends that I wasn't at all happy doing it, so they never asked me to play again? On the other hand, I can remember several YEARS playing little league baseball, sucking, playing right-field, (out of the way), last in the batting line-up, but I didn't quit. I kept trying.
    Or maybe there's something about my personality that's just unlikeable. I know I've got kind of an annoying sense of humor. I mean, I am a smart-ass. I'm always trying to make jokes. About half the time, I just keep my mouth shut, sometimes I don't, and I often come up with some pretty good zingers, and I make people laugh. Once in a while, I say something that most people just don't get. I wonder if that's it. With new groups, I often get invited once or twice, then that's all. I know it's not hygene, I pay attention to that. I know it's not looks. My mom says I'm very handsome :) - no, I'm not hideous. I pay some attention to my appearance. I try to put effort into letting other people talk about whatever they want to. I try not to be opinionated (though I'm very opinionated). What the fuck is it then? I don't know.

    One thing I know, I used to carry a lot of hatred around from my High School days. I rationalized, I built up a wall of scorn to protect myself. I dressed in black, before there was a goth-scene (that was back in the Punk days, early '80's). I carried a paperback copy of the Necronomicon with me. College changed me. Showed me how having friends, and social interactions, and relationships could be worth my time. But considering the effort, is it worth it, when they just fade away?

    So what makes you a loner. You? Your personality? Your looks? Your lack of athletic ability? Them? Their stupidity? Their inferiority? Why are you interested in computers? Do you find them neeto? Or does it help to be interested in something that doesn't require 8 other athletic friends with nothing better to do than toss around a chunk of leather and sweat on eachother? Do you feel the bitterness too? What do you do about it?
  • by dattaway ( 3088 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @08:43AM (#1417399) Homepage Journal
    and could only have one cd to load a blank computer, what would it be?
  • by Alan Shutko ( 5101 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @09:56AM (#1417400) Homepage
    There are tons of Linux distributions, and each one has a different reason for being. Most distributions seem geared to one major point: learning how to make a distro, supporting a specific niche like small routers, being easier for Linux novices.

    What's your vision for MentalUNIX? Why do you feel that you need to make your own distribution, and what specifically will your distribution do to make it fulfill that need better than existing offerings.

    (The website seems to lack a clear description of the overall goal, though it has some mentions of new setup tools.)
  • by pen ( 7191 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @02:35PM (#1417401)
    This isn't funny; This is insightful.


  • by Brazilian Geek ( 25299 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @08:12AM (#1417402) Journal
    Are you now or have you ever been a Slashdot troll? If so, please comment on the feeling of being a troll, if not, what is your favorite troll?

    Thank you.

    All browsers' default homepage should read: Don't Panic...
  • by EverCode ( 60025 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @08:18AM (#1417403) Homepage
    (assuming that you are not gay)

    Do you have a girlfriend, or at least an interest in some girl you know?

    If not, then what type of girl are you looking for? Would she have to be a nerd too?
  • by Student_Tech ( 66719 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @08:27AM (#1417404) Journal
    What kinds of activities/clubs do you participate in(sports, yearbook, drama, NHS, FFA, FBLA, Science Club, Math Team, ect.)?

    I'm a 16 year old, Junior, who is does a computer class afterschool on days when I don't have yearbook afterschool. For me getting home before 4:30PM is a good day. (My Frosh yearI was at drivers ed @ 0655 and was yearbooking or computer classing until 1800 for 2 weeks solid. 11 hours a day @ school.)
  • by webword ( 82711 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @08:09AM (#1417405) Homepage
    Question One

    What do you like to read? What material strikes your fancy? What are your favorite books and magazines? I know many folks your age; some read a ton and others read nothing. I find that I read almost everything online, particularly news. What about you, sir?

    Question Two

    Most folks your age like to write a lot if they are intelligent, which you probably are. Do you write poetry? Short stories? Do you draw and write comics? Do you write technical manuals? If you don't write now, do you have any plans to write?

    John S. Rhodes
    WebWord.com [webword.com] -- Industrial Strength Usability
  • by StoryMan ( 130421 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @09:49AM (#1417406)
    LOL -- Drag out the freak.

    "Hey, look at the freak!"

    "What is he?"


    "A geek freak?"

    "In the flesh."

    "Does he talk?"

    "I dunno. Ask him."

    "Do you talk?"

    Freak: "Yes."

    "He talks!"

    "Look, the geek freak talks!"

    "What do you do?"

    "I am 15."

    "Freak goes to school."

    "Hey, dammit, he's not a freak."

    "I am not a freak."

    "That's right. He's a normal guy."

    "Then what's he doing here?"

    "Somebody thought it would be interesting to ask him questions."

    "What kind of questions?"

    "What kind of questions do you answer?"

    "I don't know. They dragged me out here. Ask me a question."



    "Hmmm. Okay. How about this: why did you volunteer to be on Slashdot?"

    "I didn't. Someone thought it would be a good idea."

    "The idea is that he's a normal guy."

    "A geek."

    "Then why's he in the Slashdot JonKatz freakshow?"

    "I am not a freak."

    "I know you're not a freak. I understand that. But I'm asking: why are you here?"

    "I don't know. Ask Slashdot."

    "It's because of Katz. He figures that geeks get a rough time in school. He figures that Slashdot is a different crowd."

    "We are?"

    "We'd appreciate his differences."

    "Appreciate what?"

    "That he's ..."

    "A geek?"

    "I guess."

    "Did anyone think that by dragging him out and making him into an 'Ask the Geek' editorial item that you're not actually helping the guy?"

    "Oh no. We're helping him. We care."

    To the geek: "Do you feel helped?"

    "Not exactly."

    "What do you feel?"


    "Like you're in the spotlight and people are looking at you?"

    "Um. A little. Yeah."

    "Are people asking you questions?"


    "Are they good questions?"

    Geek shrugs. "Some."

    "A lot?"


    "Not many?"

    Geek shrugs again. "No."
  • by neuromortis ( 161690 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @04:48PM (#1417407) Homepage Journal

    As another 15-year-old, high school sophomore, Slashdot-reading geek, I have to say that I'm not sure I like this idea. I've read in various places that geeks are just as diverse as any other category of people. You couldn't just pull one out at random, interview him or her, and say "Look! This is what a geek is!"

    But that's what you're doing right here! You're saying "Look! This is what the average teenage geek of today is!" Clinton will answer the questions, and you'll all settle back, content in knowing what we high school geeks are like. But chances are it'll be a flawed picture. Of course some things will be correct, but not all. He'll look at things differently, do things differently, have a different situation that any other younger geek out there.

    Now I would like to say that I don't blame Clinton for going ahead with the interview and not thinking about this. I sure wouldn't have thought about it. "Me?!? Interviewed on Slashdot!?!" I'd feel honored.

    The point, however, is that you can't get an image of any group of people by interviewing just one of them, especially if that group is a sub-group of the wild and wooly world of Slashdot readers. I ask that as you read Clinton's responses, just take them as an interview with yet another unique member of are community, but NOT as a barometer of the lives of teenage geeks.


    Ray's Rule of Precision:
    Measure with a micrometer. Mark with chalk. Cut with an axe.

  • by OlympicSponsor ( 236309 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @08:46AM (#1417408)
    In 8th/9th/10th grade I was unpopular (hung out with the losers, didn't go to dances, etc). 11th and 12th grades I was merely neutral (went to some dances, knew a lot of people, but I wasn't a jock or anything). I bring this up not out of relevance, but to show that "I've been there."

    My question is: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? What I mean by that is: Many geek teenagers exhibit anti-social characteristics, including: poor hygiene, little or no conversation skills and attitudes (for instance know-it-all-ism) that are off-putting. Do adolescents get into computers because they don't get along and don't understand why, so turn to computers (books, D&D, whatever) as something they can understand/master? Or do adolescents who get into computers/whatever use up so much brain capacity with intellectually challenging tasks they can't learn how to interact with others? Or some third thing?

    (Please don't get the impression I'm saying you are a smelly, greasy, know-it-all loser--obviously I've never met you. But the lead-in mentioned being a "pudgy loner" and Katz, so I can assume you aren't dating a cheerleader.)
    MailOne [openone.com]
  • If you have thought about it what do you want to do after High School? Do you have any ideas about college or further education?

    Besides computers and high tech to do you have any hobbies.

    The cure of the ills of Democracy is more Democracy.

  • by HRbnjR ( 12398 ) <chris@hubick.com> on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @08:47AM (#1417410) Homepage
    When I was a geek in high school (10 years ago)... it was not cool at all. The computer club was definitely frowned upon by the "cool" people. My question is, with the rise of the internet, and computers becoming pervasive in "normal" peoples lives...has this changed? Or have geeks gained some respect?

    I read an article somewhere (Wired?) that said geeks were the new sex symbols...doctors and lawyers used to represent power and success and where what men stereotypically wanted to be, and what women stereotypially chased after. But now, as it is suggested, do you think geeks have invaded some of this position? Do you see any attitudes like this in school?
  • by geophile ( 16995 ) <jao.geophile@com> on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @08:31AM (#1417411) Homepage
    When I was 15, my father said, "how can you listen to this? It's noise! There's no melody, it's just boom boom boom!". He was talking about the Beatles. Today, I am horrified to find myself saying the same thing about all rap/hip-hop/whatever, Britney Spears, N Sync, and just about everything else I hear that's been recorded recently. I don't buy much new music, but lately I've been buying CDs to replace my old LPs (The Who, Genesis, and yes, The Beatles).

    At least there's Elvis (C, not P), They Might Be Giants, and Komeda.

    Is it just me, or my g-g-g-generation, or does new music really suck? What are you listening to?

    By the way, I was stunned to find that Jethro Tull is still putting out new stuff. A recent one is called j-tull.com. I am not kidding.

  • by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @08:46AM (#1417412) Homepage
    Pretty much every geek I've asked remembers loving construction type toys as children. I know my fave was Capsella because of the motors and gears, but there was always a big box of Legos in my house, too.

    Did you play with toys like that in your 5-12 years?

    What were your favorites?

  • by dbarclay10 ( 70443 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @08:34AM (#1417413)
    Hey, what's up? :) I'm not a teenager, but I am a Linux user, and a rather dedicated one. I've come to the realization over the past year or so that, indeed, MS Office is actually a good software packager. Well, relatively speaking, of course ;) I find it fast, relatively lean, feature-complete, and more-or-less stable. I was wondering if you yourself have a particular software favorite that doesn't run under Linux?

    Thanks for your time,


    Barclay family motto:
    Aut agere aut mori.
    (Either action or death.)
  • by Stoke ( 86808 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @08:11AM (#1417414) Homepage
    At the age when most teens seem to be crazy over the opposite sex and dating, how is your situation with girls? Assuming you dont have a girlfriend, do you feel better off without one taking away your free time, or is it something you wish for?
  • by Ånubis ( 126403 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @08:21AM (#1417415) Homepage

    The three most important questions ever:

    <British Accent>

    What is your name?

    What is your quest?

    What is your favorite colour?

    </British Accent>
  • by gestalt ( 131586 ) on Tuesday December 26, 2000 @08:49AM (#1417416) Homepage

    This is taking a bit of a larger context in mind, here, so bear with me for a moment. In the last couple of years, there's been a lot of talk from people like Tom Brokaw about the 'greatest generation'- people who became adults in an age where there was a clear cause for something... for example, World War II, but including all sorts of causes and movements through the decades; up until what seems to be when you and I have spent our time growing up. I'm a bit ahead of you at age 27, but I feel we are both products of a vacant, mass-media driven, consumption-oriented culture that has inherited no clear path, mission, or movement from our society.

    Lots of people would look at this as the benefit of living in a free, peaceful, prosperous part of the world (relatively speaking). I can hear them- "Be grateful, kid!" But, it seems that these are the same people who call generations prior to ours (who had their causes and ideals thrust upon them) the 'greatest generation'. Generally, they're closer in age to that generation than yours or mine.

    So, my question is this: In this world where there is no clear path to follow, no absolute right or wrong, no great struggle to leap into, what do you see as the primary motivating factor in your life? For people born before us, there were battles to fight that could be universally agreed upon and used as a framework for their lives. These days, our value doesn't extend much farther than how much money we spent at the Gap last week- so for people who want to make something of themselves, that mission must be coming from within. What is that for you? Technology for its own sake? Getting rich? Finding friends and having interesting experiences? Dare I say it, to CHANGE THE WORLD? It's a difficult question that I haven't found an answer for myself yet.

"You must have an IQ of at least half a million." -- Popeye