Yeah, I’m That Nerdy

If you’re part of the late night crew on Facebook you might already know this story. I have an old laptop. It is for playing… for hacking. It is where code is written and experiments are performed. Instead of Windows this computer runs Linux.

Linux is an operating system, Think language, like English or Italian. Ideas are expressed in similar fashion in all languages though the words are pronounced differently. Same with operating systems.

I’ve loaded different flavors of Linux dozens of times on old hardware. Because the underlying code used in Linux is Open Source people can freely modify it and redistribute it at will. Anyone is allowed to make a Linux distribution!

The install never goes 100%. Last night was no exception.

I was attempting to install Mint which is based on Ubuntu which is based on Debian. Don’t ask me to explain the last sentence.

The Mint install was flawed. It couldn’t activate the wireless (802.11g) function on this laptop. Royal pain.

Meanwhile, while trying to get everything straightened out I realized how little I liked Mint’s look.

Ciao Mint.

I downloaded a Xubuntu distribution, burned a CD and installed it.

Perfect!

Xubuntu is “Ubuntu light.” It uses a different graphical system meant for less powerful machines. It loaded the first time. I’m using it to compose this entry.

On my right is a new wireless router. It is 802.11n capable. Newer pieces of hardware also use that protocol.

I found it at Newegg for $19.99 including shipping. Tough to resist.

Before I install it I will “flash” it with new firmware, Open Source router code called DD-WRT. DD-WRT is often discussed and referenced on the Geek boards.

What does it do better than the stock firmware? No clue. Will learn.

Make no mistake, nerdiness this deep doesn’t happen overnight. I was nerdy from the cradle. This will never change.

22 Responses to “Yeah, I’m That Nerdy”

  1. Jason Martin says:

    OK this just made me so happy! Geoff I live in florida now. I’m 33 years old, and I remember you doing the weather since before Hurricane Gloria! I actually remember a saturday morning where there was a slight earthquake in the bridgeport area in the early 80′s I remember Mom running to the TV and saying see what Geoff Fox has to say. Thanks for the memories and the snow school delays/cancellations!

    • Geoff Fox says:

      Thanks Jason. I’m always surprised how people remember moments I was in their lives. That has been among the most humbling revelations over the last year.

  2. Sabrina says:

    Wow, Geoff, I have to admit – you and my husband would probably get along wonderfully! But sadly, I did have an inkling of understanding about what you discussed in your post. I guess I’m at least part nerd too… I am also the same age as Jason and I remember you fondly from “way back when”. After we moved back to CT (my husband is in the military), I was excited to be able to tune in! Keep up the good work Geoff – our world isn’t complete without nerds like you :)

  3. wendy says:

    I agree with your wife. : )

  4. Deb says:

    Nerdy, huh? Hardware or just software? How many Heathkits did you assemble back in the good old days? (My father and I built our first microwave back around 72/73 – that’s sorta nerdy, isn’t it?)

  5. khrystyne says:

    Sooooooo, you have “the knack”…

  6. Jean says:

    The world needs more nerds like you Geoff. I think nerds are great!

  7. Todd says:

    I have DD-WRT running on an old router that I turned into a wireless bridge. Prepare for hours of tinkering with settings you never knew existed (read nerd paradise)!

  8. Judy F. says:

    Geoff, I’m sorry I can’t be one of your nerdy friends. You lost me at “Linux” (isn’t that a character in the Peanuts comic strip??? Now you know where I stand in nerdsville….nowhere.) However, I can be your non-nerd friend; I like you, and more important, I like your dog.

  9. Lou Lange says:

    Love the nerd stuff, Geoff. Always good to teach this IT guy new tricks!

  10. Mary Jane W. says:

    I think there is a little nerd in all of us no matter what you’re into. You Geoff, are a little deeper but that what makes you so smart. I’ve heard of Linux, 802.11g(my computer is this), and firmware(worked in a data center for many years), but as for the rest of the stuff you mentioned, you lost me. From watching you on the news all these years forecasting the weather or discussing an interesting science topic, I am impressed on how well you explain things in a way we can all understand. I think it comes from that nerd in you who takes the time to learn these topics……So I say Thank you for that!!!

  11. duane woodbury says:

    duh hu what . and folks i have a very high iq . you certainly are right geoff that was nerdy . not that nerdy is a bad thing , thanks for the smile reminds me of the glazed over look i get when i start talking about the chemical make up and temp of the “lake of fire” in the bible .. yes god is smart enought to glaze even the smartest nerds eyes over . god bless everyone

  12. Maria says:

    I am going to find my son to see if he can translate this for me…

  13. Allen says:

    I too am running a couple Monoprice routers, one as a wireless bridge. Stock firmware gives most of what I need, isolated guest network, bridging functions, etc. I’m a big fan of dd-wrt & would love to install it but I’ve not found a build supporting these devices. Please post if you find something … just don’t brick your new device. Thanks from a fellow nerd.

  14. Sara says:

    I’m with Judy on this one.
    Not sure why you were worried about a job when Lin didn’t renew the contract. You should and could have just started a new career in high tech. There are many out there who could learn from you,plus you could have been your own boss, naming your own price and hours…..

  15. terry says:

    This has been the language of computers in our home for years. My husband is up to his neck in Linux and other cutting edge computer languages. As for my Christmas present last year when folks would ask my husband, why are you getting a weather station for your wife? The simple answer, she would just love it! I do, I really do. It is really cool. I love living in a nerd world.

  16. Gail B says:

    The scary part of this nerd post is that I understood most of it as a former programmer! but I do hear Doppler in the background begging for Daddy to play or cuddle with her!! Seriously, great post.

  17. Lois says:

    I have read you entire post and I just realized that my reading comprehension flew out the window after I read the post. As long as you know what all that is about, I am happy!

  18. Jim says:

    FYI Geoff, there are other firmwares you might be able to use besides dd-wrt. Tomato is another firmware that’s supposed to be very user-friendly and have a great user interface:

    http://www.polarcloud.com/tomato

    And if you ever find the need for more nerdiness in your life, you can build your own firmware using the OpenWrt framework:

    https://openwrt.org/

  19. Bob says:

    I hear great things about DD-WRT. But if you don’t like it, you might try Tomato, a superb router software package that I’ve used for several years. I’m probably tempting fate by saying this, but it’s been rock-solid reliable.

  20. DorisC says:

    My son just got a new job (he has been out of college for 2 years) and in the first interview with this particular company he was asked to identify parts on the computer. He was puzzled (since this was an computer support position) and was informed some people that had applied could not do as such. He told the interviewer that when he was 14 he convinced his mom (me) to pitch in some money so he could buy parts and build his own computer….and he has been doing it ever since. He got the job! Funny how a small request from your child to support something he is interested in could make such a difference years later.

  21. Keith says:

    Geoff – just curious what 802.11n router you got for $20 that can run DD-WRT? Was that a Black Friday price?

    Cheap DD-WRT capable hardware always catches my eye…

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