Monday, September 05, 2005

Da Posah!

Things have sure changed since I was a kid.

One thing that has always existed, and always will exist, however, is ‘The Poser.”

Posers come from all walks of life. Everyone knows a poser.

A poser is the guy who wouldn’t know a car engine if it hit him on the head, doesn’t know the front end of a car from the back, but watched ‘The Fast and the Furious”, bought a couple of crappy decals for his Ford Fiesta, and calls himself a Street Racer. Street Racing is all he’ll talk about, despite the fact that his entire knowledge of Street Racing comes from ‘The Fast and The Furious’. He uses acronyms like ‘NOS’ in every other sentence, even though he has no clue what it means.

A poser is the guy who hangs around Bike stores and biker hang outs, throws around words like ‘soft tail’ and ‘knucklehead motor’, but has gained all his motorcycle knowledge from season one of ‘American Chopper’. He will argue with a seasoned motorcycle veteran about the pros and cons of particular bike. He has, however, never sat on a bike in his life, let alone ride one.

Long story short, posers are assholes. They’re the guys and gals who desperately want to be part of a particular group. They’re the people who like everyone to think of them as experts, when they have all the knowledge in their field as a drunken gibbon with a bicycle pump up their nose.

It’s something I’ve never understood. You see, when a poser meets an actual expert, the expert isn’t fooled for a second. However, the poser is so desperate not to shatter their fragile self image, they’ll argue that white is black, even though they know they’re wrong.

Personally, if theirs something I’m interested in, but know nothing about, I’ll openly admit ignorance. For example, I’d love to own a motorcycle, but I’ve never ridden one, not counting a 100cc scooter. If I talk to an actual biker, I won’t insist of repeating the one or two things I actually know over and over again. This is basically because I don’t want to make a complete tit of myself, and also, by admitting that the person I’m talking to is more knowledgeable than I am, I might actually learn something.

So what got me started on this tirade?

I’ve discovered a whole new breed of poser. Namely, the Computer Geek Poser.

Now, until very, very recently, being branded a geek was definitely not a good thing. To be a geek was to be a 30 year old virgin, still living in your parent’s basement, eating funyuns while having a heated argument over the abilities of a level 45 Necromancer in Dungeons and Dragons.

Basically, think of ‘Comic Book Guy’ off the Simpsons, but with half the personality.

However, being a geek has shifted from being a bad thing to almost being a badge of honour.

You see, less than five years ago, computers where the domain of the geek, the nerd, and the scary geek-nerd hybrid…the Gnerd! Why actually go outside and interact with the human race when you can sit in front of a computer for 36 hours straight, arguing over IRC about which Star trek captain was superior, Kirk or Picard (by the way, it’s Picard). For years that’s what 99.9% of the internet was. Geeks arguing with other geeks about Star Trek and Babylon 5.

However, recently, computers have become a lot more mainstream, the internet especially. Now you don’t need much computer knowledge to get online, and since Napster and Kazaa trail blazed the whole peer to peer thing, the internet became a lot more attractive to the non-geeks.

Computers were no longer just used for dedicated geeks to argue who’d win in a fight between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. You could download music, movies and games…for free!

Suddenly, that geek became the guy who could get you every single song your favourite band ever wrote…and through baffling computer wizardry, using the then little known format known as MP3, he could fit it all onto a single CD!

In short, the geek went from being the social outcast to the guy who could get you expensive stuff really cheap. It was also a great thing to have a geek friend, a guy who could fix your computer for you, and recover the 8 gigabytes of porn you accidentally deleted.

In short, geeks went from the pale, friendless virgins to being the most in-demand guys in the world. Even the girls realized that by having a geek boyfriend, she had a guy who was so grateful for having actual female contact (who knew you could see breasts other than on a computer monitor), that he’d treat her like a queen…not to mention the sheer amount of money he was making in his high-tech job!

In short, the old saying became true. ‘Be nice to geeks at school, chances are you’ll be working for them one day.”

All those years in front of sitting in front of a computer monitor paid off. Bill Gates, probably the biggest geek in the world, is also the richest guy in the world…period. That guy makes about $4000 a minute, and has enough money to buy the entire British Economy…that’s right, every home, business and piece of land. If you took all his money in $1 bills and stacked them up…you’d have a shit load of cash.

In short, Geeks became cool. ‘Cool Geek’ stopped being an oxymoron.

…and with that, the Geek Poser was born.

The Geek Poser is a strange breed. The Geek Poser spent his entire childhood doing nothing but making fun of True Geeks. Then one day, he woke up, and realized that the guys he was giving Atomic Wedgies to in school was suddenly more popular than he was. Suddenly, the girls on campus were no longer interested in listening to him brag about how much he could bench press, how he was the MVP in the last football game…and even had no interest in the story about how he got wasted by drinking a whole bottle of vodka and woke up in a dumpster.

Instead the hot girl whose attention he was trying to grab was batting her eyelids at the Geek and saying “I don’t know anything about computers. Could you come over to my house and set it up so I can download music and put it on CD’s?” and also saying “You earn HOW MUCH?!?!”

Yeah baby, I got 3 megabits of bandwidth, and an 80 Inch Plasma!

Ok, ok, fair enough, I’m exaggerating a little bit, but it can’t be denied that Geeks are one hell of a lot cooler than they used to be. The cool guy at school might have scored the winning touch down at the last Superbowl, but the geek gave us napster and the iPod.

Now the Geek Poser (henceforth known as the GP) is easy to spot. He’ll be wearing a Jinx T-Shirt, usually with a long sleeved shirt underneath. Don’t be fooled, if that shirt doesn’t have cheeto dust on it, he’s a poser. They’ll usually use the same buzz words over and over again, such as ‘P2P’ and ‘firewall’…even when they have nothing to so with the conversation. They’ll also steer the conversation to the one thing they know a little bit about:

True Geek : “Yeah, the 64 bit processors won’t be much use right now, all it’ll do is bring up your start menu a little quicker. However, they’ll be great when developers start writing 64 bit apps.”

Geek Poser: “Err, yeah. Do you use Bittorrent? It’s a great P2P network, I had trouble configuring my firewall for it though.”

TG : “Why, what firewall do you use?”

GP: “Err, firewall, yeah, They’re great, aren’t they!”

TG: “You don’t know, do you?”

GP: “Yeah I do!…I love P2P, Bittorrent’s great. Downloaded any good stuff on it?”

TG: “You have no clue what you’re talking about. What firewall are you running? Zonealarm?”

GP: “Errr, P2P! Firewall! Bittorrent! You don’t know what you’re talking about! I’m L33t, you n00b!”

However, the easiest possible way to spot a GP is by seeing how difficult they make things sound. Anyone who’s used Bittorrent or Kazaa knows to download something, you type in what you want to download, it searches, then you click ‘download’. Downloading through Bittorrent requires almost exactly the same amount brainpower it takes to open your fridge.

The GP, however, will try to lead you to believe that getting his hands on a single MP3 was difficult as trying to hack into the FBI’s central mainframe with a Commodore 64. I once actually talked to a guy who called Kazaa a ‘Hacker Tool’, and told me he ‘hacked his way in through the backdoor’ to download an MP3.

Yeah, and to watch MTV I had to hack my remote with a soldering iron.

So why did I decide to expose the Geek Poser today? Basically, I had a run in with one.

Sunny and I were looking round that whore of the computer world, CompUSA. We were looking around at what they had on offer, when I overheard someone say:

“Nah, I know what I’m looking for, I don’t need any help.”

I sensed a kindred spirit. I’d said pretty much the same thing when I first got approached by a sales assistant. I don’t need a constant sales pitch, even on the rare occasions that the sales guy knows what he’s talking about. I just find a decent system, then ask some questions, such as “Does this come with Windows XP on a disk, or is it just pre-loaded?” and “Is this a bundle, or can I get just the system? I don’t need the monitor.”

However, when I looked up, I sensed a dark and twisted geek aura. The backwards baseball cap tipped me off. It appeared to be a young GP, along with a friend. The friend appeared to be a complete computer newbie after a new system, and had mistakenly brought the GP as an ‘expert’. I over heard the following pearls of wisdom.

“Gateway make crap processors.” (Gateway don’t make processors at all)
“This one’s got plenty of meg” (I think he meant ram)
“You want at least a 2 gigabyte processor” (I think he meant gigahertz…he also pronounced Giga and ‘Jigga’)

and finally…

“What’s the difference between a gigabyte and a megabyte? Well, that’s a little technical.” (In other words, he didn’t know)…Oh, and he pointed out you need a ‘really fast hard drive’ to run Half Life 2.

I just laughed inwardly and shook my head. A year ago, I would have gone to the guy’s assistance and stopped him from getting ripped off, but I once stepped in to tell someone that RAM wasn’t storage space in a Walmart, and faced a 5 minute tirade about how the guy was ‘using computers before I was born.” And that “I didn’t know that I was talking about.”

It didn’t end there. I spotted a system that I liked. Nothing amazing, but decent. However, it only came with 512 meg of RAM, so I wanted to see what another 512meg of RAM would cost me. Not seeing it on the shop floor, I waited at the help desk to ask. There was a guy in front of me, with a DVD writer in his hand, looking very pissed off.

The sales assistant came to the desk. Here’s the conversation:

Sales Assistant : “Can I help you?”
Pissed Off Customer : “I most certainly hope you can!” (slams the writer on the desk)

(Uh-oh, I think. This could get nasty. He had the ‘I’m an expert, don’t try to hoodwink me’ aura. This is a bad thing. Actual computer experts know that things sometimes just don’t work…if you’ve worked with computers for a while, having to return something isn’t that uncommon. A real expert doesn’t go in combative, they simply say what’s wrong and get a fix, a replacement, a refund or a different model.)

POC: “I bought this yesterday, and it DOESN”T WORK!”

SA: “Why, what’s wrong with it?”

POC “What do you mean, what’s wrong with it! I told you, it does…not…work!”

SA (sighs) : “Obviously, sir, but in what way?”


SA: “Sorry, sir, but that doesn’t tell me anything. Is it refusing to write? Will it not read a disk? Does your computer not recognize it?”

POC: “I don’t have to answer these questions, it doesn’t work! Give me a replacement!”

SA: “Sir, if I give you a replacement, and it’s a configuration issue, a replacement won’t help. I need to know what’s actually wrong before I can offer a replacement or refund.”

POC: “Don’t try and blind me with technical language!” (Technical language? She said ‘configuration’) “I’ve been using computers for years! I know faulty software when I see it, I want a replacement!”

SA: “Ah, software, so the bundled software doesn’t work?”

POC: “No! The actual drive doesn’t work!”

SA: “So why did you say faulty software?”

He spent the next 10 minutes arguing that a DVD writer drive comes under the heading software, even going so far as to say “No wonder this doesn’t work when you don’t know the difference between hardware and software!”…I couldn’t stand it anymore. I broke my self imposed rule and stepped in.

ME : “Actually, she’s right. It’s a drive, it’s hardware.”

He gave me a look like I’d come into his house on Christmas morning and pissed on his kids.

POC: “Oh, and I suppose you’re an expert are you?”

ME: “Actually, yes.”

POC: (sarcastically) “And what makes you an expert?”

ME: “Ten years experience building and upgrading, and I have an A-Level in Information Technology.”

(He sputters and goes off on another tirade).

SA: “Listen, just tell me how you installed it, and we’ll see if we can figure out what’s wrong.”

POC: “So now it’s my fault, is it?”

SA (losing composure) : “What?!?”

POC : “It’s the way I installed it, is it? I’ve been installing software for over ten years! I know what I’m doing! You sold me faulty Software!”

SA (Damn near turning purple): “Well, ten years installing software wouldn’t help, this is Hardware.”

(another tirade).

ME: “Look, I’ve been waiting a while, why don’t you just tell the girl what she needs to know, and maybe we can get out of here. Trust me, she wants you out of here and happy as much as you do. ”

(Blah blah blah, faulty software, blah blah blah, incompetent sales assistant blah blah blah mind your own business blah blah blah computer expert)

POC: “I installed the programs…”

(Ding! Installing drivers before the actual hardware isn’t a very good idea).

POC : “Then I took the cover off, slid the drive in and turned the computer on.”

SA (pauses, confused): “Slid the drive in? You did actually connect the cables, didn’t you?”

POC: “Cables? What are you talking about! You don’t know ANYTHING! I demand to speak to the manager!”

SA: “FINE!” (she picks up a phone)

ME: (a light goes on in my head) “Wait a sec, are you talking about the case cover, or just the cover at the front?”

POC: “The front, obviously!! That’s where the drive goes! Some expert you are!”

I look at the sales assistant, she looks at me. You can almost see the lightbulbs ping over our heads.

SA: “So you took the drive cover off the front of your PC, just slid the drive into the hole and expected it to work?!?”

POC: (Almost screaming): “I’ve been working on computers for over ten years, I know how to install a drive! You don’t know what you’re talking about! WHERE IS THE MANAGER!!!”

SA: (trying not to laugh and opening the box and opening the manual) “As you can see, sir, in order for the drive to work, you have to connect it to your motherboard with this supplied IDE cable, then you have to connect it to your power supply unit. It’s all written very clearly in here.”

She slides the manual, open at the page ‘hardware installation’ across the counter, in the manner of someone laying down an ace.

POC (Now a bright shade of puce) : “THIS STORE IS TERRIBLE, I’LL NEVER SHOP HERE AGAIN!”

He swiped the drive off the table onto the floor and stomped out. As soon as he was out the door, I doubled up laughing.

SA (trying not to laugh, and picking the drive off the floor): “Idiot” She muttered. “Can I help you sir?”

ME: (In my best Pissed Off Customer voice) “I bought Doom 3, and it won't run on my Pentium 75! I demand to know why!”

SA (laughing): “It’s because you’re dumb as a box of rocks sir, anything else?”

ME: “Ah, that’ll be the problem then. Oh, and how much for 512meg of DDR RAM?”

SA: “Single or two 256’s?.”

ME: “Single.”

SA: “I’ll check.”

ME: “Thanks.”

That was a fun day. It’s just laughable that so many people with all the computer knowledge of a dead stoat will claim to be experts. It’s also amazing that the pissed off guy was willing to walk out of the store without his drive or a refund, rather than just admit he was wrong.

I was also amazed to find a CompUSA sales assistant that actually knew what she was talking about.


OzzyC said...

...just goes to show the utter futility of exposing a poser for what he truly is.

Kato said...

Excellent story. I was highly amused by both the geek poser and the annoyed customer. I'm truly amazed you found someone at CompUSA who knew what they were talking about. I must go there at once!

Ahh, the Geek poser. I don't know how to feel about geek being chic. Yes I do. I wish I had been born about 7 years later...I'd be scoring all the tail in college right now. Oh well.