The most beautiful Love Song

This is – IMHO – really the most beautiful and romantic love-song a nerd can sing to his girl-friend.

I still watch TBBT every week, but unfortunately the episodes are not as good, funny, or at least “nerdy” anymore as they used to be, especially in the second and third season. The girls in the show shifted the centre of gravity of the story to the love-affairs of the four friends, instead of having fun with Geek LifeStyle.

However, this episode, S07E06 “The Romance Resonance”, was for once very good again, and the song, that Howard wrote and sang for his wife Bernadette (since it is the anniversary of their first date), proves that the makers can still add some geeky flavor into it.
More of that, guys; please!! There are already too many trite TV-shows about vapid teenage people with their shabby love-troubles.

If I Didn’t Have You (Bernadette’s Song)

If I didn’t have you
Life would be blue
I’d be Dr. Who without the Tardis
A candle without a wick
A Watson without a Crick
I’d be one of my outfits without a Dick-ie
I’d be cheese without the mac
Jobs without the Wozniak
I’d be solving exponential equations that use bases not
found on your calculator making it much harder to crack
I’d be an atom without a bomb
A dot without the com
And I’d probably still live with my mom

And he’d probably still live with his mom

Ever since I met you
You turned my world around
You supported all my dreams and all my hopes
You’re like Uranium 235 and I’m Uranium 238
Almost inseparable isotopes

I couldn’t have imagined
How good my life would get
From the moment that I met you, Bernadette

If I didn’t have you
Life would be dreary
I’d be string theory without any string
I’d be binary code without a one
A cathode-ray tube without an electron gun
I’d be “Firefly,” “Buffy” and “Avengers” without Joss Whedon
I’d speak a lot more Klingon Heghlu’meH QaQ jajvam

And he’d definitely still live with his mom

Ever since I met you
You turned my world around
You’re my best friend and my lover
We’re like changing electric and magnetic fields
You can’t have one without the other

I couldn’t have imagined
How good my life would get
From the moment that I met you, Bernadette

Oh, we couldn’t have imagined
How good our lives would get
From the moment that we met you, Bernadette

Published on Oct 24, 2013
Written by Kate Micucci and Riki Lindhome
Published by Warner-Barham Music LLC (BMI)
Performed by Simon Helberg, Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Kunal Nayyar, and Mayim Bialik
& © 2013 Warner Bros. Television

More Online Courses for Independent Learning.

This week on FaceBook via FreeYourKids: MIT Open CourseWare publishes virtually all of its courses online for free. Not entirely new, but still interesting as another option for independent learning.

“The idea is simple: to publish all of our course materials online and make them widely available to everyone.”
Dick K.P. Yue, Professor, MIT School of Engineering

Read also this post on the Open Culture-website:
625 Free MOOCs from Great Universities (Many Offering Certificates).
And then there is edX, that will launch mooc.org in the first half of 2014.

Massive Open Online Courses

Here is an interesting infographic about MOOCs: Massive Open Online Classes. I am a teacher myself, but I know that most of my students learn a lot from YouTube videos, where people explain how they play a certain song on their guitar or keyboard.
So, I jumped on the bandwagon and put some instruction videos online at a special vimeo-account. But it is not enough; my students still have to attend my lessons and pass their tests in my classroom.
I subscribed to the Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence Class, taught by Peter Norvig and Sebastian Thrun, and I finished the course with reasonable success – 74 %. Then I subscribed to other courses, but it is hard to create time to study as much as I should. So: halfway my course Machine Learning by Andrew Ng at Coursera I had to quit. The good news however is that I can finish the course later, because the videos and the programming exercises are are still there (I’ve downloaded them to my computer). Of course I can’t earn points for it, but that doesn’t matter to me: it’s about learning. When you’re at my age you don’t need the competition to perform.:-)
Now I’m following Thrun’s “Introduction to Statistics” at Udacity. A lot of this stuff was already tackled at his AI-Class, and of course I learned the basics of statistics at Khan Academy. But the better part of this slow-paced course are the optional programming exercises. This is where I failed during Machine Learning, so I hope, when I’m a bit more experienced with coding, I can resume this course later.
For the next few months I signed up for the following courses: “Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Computation”, “Neuroethics”, “Introduction to Analytic Combinatorics, Part I” and “Probabilistic Graphical Models”. Will I find the time to complete all these courses? Having a family, a demanding job as a teacher, a lot of free-lance work as a musician and a self-made webmaster of over thirteen websites? Scalable Living might be the answer.
So, for me, MOOCs are great. The courses are free, so even if I succeed for only 50% I’ve learned and earned a lot more than when I give up in advance. I can choose my own time and my own pace. The only problem is: there are so many interesting courses, and you can’t have all the candy in the store. So, I’ll have to learn to confine myself – there is no online course for that.

Geek Travel

This could be a great website and it really was an eye-opener to me. “Wanderlust for Geeks” – what a great tagline!.
Planning my vacation is not in my system, and I’m happy to have a significant other who is doing all the work and drags me away from my computer screen now and then – and proves to me that the Real World still has enough interesting places to be.
However, Geek Travel’s Edward Alfert dives straight in the centre of the subject when he states:

I believe that the correct sequence of steps to follow when planning a vacation are to:
(1) choose what you want to do,
(2) find where you can find such activities,
(3) find out when is the best time to participate,
(4) and then find out where to stay.

I agree.
A few years ago I bought “The Geek Atlas” for this purpose. The less time I waste on anything not related to nerddom (I prefer to treat “geek” and “nerd” as having the same denotation, with only slightly different connotations), the better. Now Alfert has a longer list of destinations, but since the maintenance of his website is currently on hold – being a Geek Alfert has obviously too many projects to maintain – he fills his website with articles on Geekdom. Like this one, where he offers a more complicated Venn diagram of the art of Geekiness than published two years ago:

I like this definition of a geek:

“A person who has chosen concentration rather than conformity; one who passionately pursues skill (especially technical skill) and imagination, not mainstream social acceptance.”

Even more interesting – because entirely new to me – is his Venn-diagram on Geekdoms: the World or Sphere of Geeks.

I planned my next vacation already and of course it is jam-packed with museum-visiting; but just in case there will be some spare time left to ponder the Gentle Art of Geekiness and the places to be, I’ll definitely check out Geek Travel.

Geek or Nerd? Again that boring discussion, but with nice infographics

I have discussed the subject before on this weblog, but it still is an interesting point of blogging: what is the difference between a geek and a nerd? A new infographic, provided by Masters in IT, has been recycled around the internet recently, so let me jump on the bandwagon too and copy-paste it here.

The infographic has been published earlier at SoyaCincau, ResumeBear, LazyTechGuys and now by me 🙂


Another infographic can be found at Bit Rebels: Geeks vs. Nerds: The Anatomy.

Both infographics have their own biases, but generally speaking you should not aim at “fitting” in some classification invented by people who need to label others just for a conveniently arranged view of the world – IMHO.
Considering both infographics I like to think of myself more like a kind of hybrid between the two species, adding some nerdy flavour to my personal brand of geekiness – or backwards.

Nerds & Geeks: An Etiological History and its Psychosocial Implications

Again some discussion about the Geek-Nerd dichotomy. Some earlier post on this subject are here and, especially, here on this blog.
Now the WikiVersity has started a serious research page on the subject:

  • What is a nerd?
  • What is the spectrum of “nerd-ness”? What are the core nerd personality traits?
  • How did this identity originate? And where? In what culture?
  • What are the implications of being labeled a nerd?
  • What are the implications of labeling oneself a nerd?
  • What are causal factors involved with labeling oneself a nerd?
  • What are the psychological processes involved?
  • What percentage of heavy computer users label themselves as nerds?
  • What percentage of people label themselves a nerd?
  • What percentage of nerds will report positive valance about schema surrounding their identity as a nerd?
  • What is the differences between males and females who label themselves nerds?
  • Are “nerds” a cross cultural phenomenon? Or are they specific to only a few social groups?
  • Generally, do nerds have a greater or fewer number of sexual partners than the average person?
  • Are the quality of the sexual experiences of nerds of higher or lower quality than those who are “not nerds”
  • Are there objective criteria for what is qualitatively or quantitively a nerd?
  • Gender bias.
  • Are social groups and activities that are perceived as “nerdy” subject to sexual stereotyping about their relevance to women and men?
  • Is there wide-spread misunderstanding about the relative worth of “nerdy activities” to women and men?
  • Is there active promotion of misconceptions about the relevance of “nerdy activities” to both sexes?
  • Do social groups that self-identify as “nerdy” unfairly exclude more women than men?

The page goes on with summing up the characteristics of psychological behaviour of nerds. E.g.

Some commentators have noticed similarities between pronounced nerdy behavior and the neurological disorder known as high-functioning Asperger’s Syndrome.

And:

In the practice of psychology, geeks and nerds can be said to be Myers-Briggs Type Indicator INTP, ENTP or INTJ, and, in various cases, ENTJ. (…)
In the works of Riso and Hudson, specifically Understanding the Enneagram revised edition, page 180, point 10, the term “nerd” is used as a primary reference to (and indication of being) Enneagram type 5.

Well, decide for yourself; here is the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator Sampler, here is a free Meyer-Briggs personality test, here is a more elaborate (and expensive) Meyer-Briggs personality test and here is the Autism-Spectrum Quotient test. And here is the discussion “PDD, Asperger and Geek Syndrome” at Slashdot.
I did all of these tests and I will not exhibit my personal characteristics here, but I can happily state that I’m not a Enneagram type 5. 🙂 Considering the Autism-Spectrum Quotient test I must admit that the result was, err, peculiar. 🙂 I comfort myself with the thought that self-diagnosis is rarely accurate and the result therefore probably isn’t correct.


CNN has a special converage called “Geek Out“, with an article “Are you a nerd or a geek?” Conclusions:

  • The difference between being a nerd and a geek is deeply subjective
  • “Geeking out” about something means becoming an expert in a particular subject
  • Many see themselves as both nerd and geek; others are keen not to be misidentified

There are many people who prefer to be called a “geek” because of that empowerment factor. E.g. Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins, the creators of the Web comic “Penny Arcade”:

” I think being a geek is cool… A geek has an ownership of their geek nature,” said Holkins. “[Nerds] don’t. It’s my hope that nerds become geeks via a natural process. That they learn that their inherent nature isn’t something they need to feel ashamed of. I feel like ‘nerd’ is the epithet, and ‘geek’ is the inside term.”

The list goes on with citing famous people’s opinion, but I’ll quote here Kunal Nayyar, who plays “Raj Koothrappali” on the CBS show “The Big Bang Theory“:

“I know what it feels like to be passionate about something,” he said. “And these guys are very passionate about their lifestyle. They’re very passionate about comic books, they’re very passionate about what they wear, they’re very passionate about their work. So the term ‘geek’ or ‘nerd,’ it really just transcends to someone who’s very passionate about a certain lifestyle. You see a lot of people living their lives in the middle. These guys don’t. They don’t live their life in the middle, they go for whatever they want. And of course, according to the regular society it’s really not the norm,(…)

So, we still don’t know what’s the difference, but The Nerd Project tries to draw the line:

Pundits and observers dispute the relationship of the terms “nerd” and “geek” to one another, as many use the words synonymously. The two terms are commonly used incorrectly, or are misapplied, particularly by journalists.
Some view the geek as a less technically skilled nerd. Others view the exact opposite. The lines between geek and nerd are often thin and ill-defined, however a general consensus is that a “geek” is a person who obsesses in one area or another, whereas a “nerd” is a highly intelligent person who is very scholarly and does well in many domains such as math, science, computing, etc. Geeks are more associated with obsessive knowledge. For example a Star Trek geek (or Trekkie) is someone who could tell you extremely trivial details about Star Trek and may be likely to watch the show on a daily basis or go to Star Trek conventions. A person can be a nerd in almost any subject, but is usually associated with things that most people don’t do or things that require an intellect, for example a person who plays a lot of video games could be called a gaming nerd, but it would be inappropriate to call an obsessive chef a cooking nerd because many people cook and it is a daily activity, whereas video games are more of a subculture. Another difference some people make between nerds and geeks are that nerds are more “bookworms” whose interests are in the fields of academia, such as mathematics and science. Geeks are interested in computers and video gaming, or movies with large fan-bases such as Star Wars. Also, many wish to differentiate between nerds who are deeply engrossed in purely entertainment oriented genres and nerds who are deeply engrossed in subjects that require serious study and committment and have real-life career potential or applications.

That at least, makes some sense, but I still think the whole discussion is only about labelling people, to put them in categories. And therefore it is an activity only done by geeks and nerds.

Only a geek would waste their time on the internet, defining geek on urbandictionary.com – Urban Dictionary