Monday, May 22, 2006

Revenge of the Nerd

Nerd is the wordMy son is a nerd.

No, I'm not bashing him - that's a good thing to him, and he'll tell you the same thing. You see my son is into computers. BIG time. And not just sitting around playing on them like you'd expect from any typical 15 year-old, I mean in TO them - literally.

While most kids his age are spending their hard-earned money on things like hip clothes, music or DVDs, my son buys computers and parts from eBay. Not new stuff mind you, but old things that only cost a few dollars because they either don't work or are terribly outdated. He then rebuilds or upgrades these things into working machines that he uses to "experiment" on. He currently has an entire laboratory of every kind of computer possible, with the exception of a Mac, of which he is hunting for one now.

Think I'm exaggerating? Let's take a look at his room as of 10:00 this morning. (click to enlarge).

That's right. This is an actual unretouched photograph. So what have we here?

HP Pavillion desktop: He actually got this free from a woman as payment for setting up and configuring her newer computer. She claimed this one didn't work and had it into the "experts" twice but they still couldn't fix it. He had it up and running that afternoon.

Acer Laptop: This was a good lesson for him. He really wanted a laptop but good working ones are too expensive. So, he decided to buy two nonworking ones of the same model and combine the parts into one good one. Good plan, except for the fact that the two models weren't identical and the harddrive of the first one didn't fit into the slot of the other one properly because something was blocking it from sliding all the way in. No problem, he just took off the keyboard, opened it up, removed the offending blockage and slid the hard drive in. Unfortunately, when he turned on the power, the entire motherboard went up in a puff of sizzling smoke. Yep, something was touching something it shouldn't have and shorted out.

Poor kid, he hadn't had the darned thing 30 minutes and it was toast. Lucky for him though my wife and I have a soft spot for determination and decided to help him out with the good one he has now.

IBM PC Server 325: This one stumped me. "Why do you need a server model?" I ignorantly asked. "Because," he said, "I want one." Ahh, how stupid of me. But now that he has one, he has since configured it with Debian/Linux and has set up a mini network of all the networkable computers in the house. Now I get it.

Commodore 64 and Atari 2600: A good example of his "need to know." He wanted to understand what the original pioneers of the computer renaissance were all about. This is the same reason he has purchased a complete Windows 3.1 operating system (in shrink wrap) and installed it on one of his machines. He just had to know how Windows got started. He has also acquired Windows 95, 98, XP and 2000 and has them as optional boot preferences on other machines.

MooA lot of parents would take one look at this mess he calls a room and have a cow. My wife and I have had our cows. We've had a whole herd of them - it doesn't help. So instead of trying to get him to change into a neater, more organized version of himself, we've decided to just let him be him. After all, when you consider the other things highschool kids can get themselves into these days, we feel pretty fortunate that a messy room is the only damage he's creating.

The other day we were at a bookstore and he came up to the counter with a C++ "how to" book. Seeing how young my son was, the checkout guy thought it might be wise to warn him that this language was pretty advanced and that he may want to start with something easier such as BASIC first. That's when my son explained to him that he had learned BASIC a few years ago as well as Java and HTML and wanted to get started on C++.

Gosh, I hope he's not too late.


Just A Girl said...

That is so cool! It always warms my heart when kids actually want to learn! Kudos to you and your wife for not stifling him or punishing him for being a little messy. I speak from experience that sometimes the smartest people can be the messiest!! Good job on what sounds like a wonderful boy! :)

Mooselet said...

Good for him. Remember, you can always close the bedroom door. I do that with my teenager, although I'm sad to say the mess in her room cannot be atributed to a thirst for knowledge.

Wendy Boucher said...

I'm having a psychic moment here: I see your son becoming very rich one day. Get him what he needs now and one day he'll buy you a fast car.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. I have five computers (including a special edition Apple II GS signed by Woz) sitting in my two empty bedrooms. I think they would complement your son's bedroom decor. We'll be in Minnesota in three weeks . . . .

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

j.a.g - Thanks! We think he's turning out ok too!

Mooselet - Actually, sometimes I can't close the bedroom door!

Wendy - I like where you're going with this. Oh, and if I get a choice, I'll take a hybrid car. A black one.

Linda - Ok, let's talk. But he, I mean I, don't want 5. Or 4 or 3 or 2 either. 1 will do just fine, thank you.

yellojkt said...

My kid and I put together a computer from parts this summer, but the hacker desire didn't take.

He just surfs anime sites all day.