Category - Nerd Stories

Stories about Nerds

1
The Longevity of Icons – A Picture is Worth More Than One Word
2
How I Crashed My First Computer Within First Hour Of Owning It
3
Podcast Interview: Bytes Over Bagels
4
Snipes, the Game That Gave Birth to LANs

The Longevity of Icons – A Picture is Worth More Than One Word

One of my biggest issues with iOS7 is that Apple is fairly inconsistent with the use of iconography vs. text. Take the email app, for example. If you swipe left in the listing view, it gives you options using text like “Trash”. But in other instances (like looking at a specific message), there is a trash can icon. Even though it didn’t need to use icons for screen real-estate purposes, iOS6 used icons more often and more consistently. Icons transcend language and makes translating an app into a different language a much easier endeavour. I have always admired LEGO instructions since they never need translation. Why can’t software be the same?
 
Icons are much more powerful than using words. Some people’s associations with icons are so strong, that even after the obsolescence of the item the icon is depicting, the icon persists. What icon do you click to save a document in Word? A diskette. When was the last time you used a 3.5″ floppy disk? My kids, the oldest of whom is 8, all know that’s what you click to save but they have never seen a diskette in their lives (and may never). 

How I Crashed My First Computer Within First Hour Of Owning It

I bought my first computer when I was 13 with my Bar Mitzvah money. I told my parents I was going to use it for homework, but the truth was that I was hopelessly addicted to video games and PCs (or IBM Compatables as we called them in those days) were way ahead of console game systems. The game that really inspired me was Sierra’s King’s Quest. I played it at my friend Jeremy Levine’s house and loved the fact that it was a puzzle game in a fantasy world. Like Zork but with graphics. The worlds were vast and non-linear. 

Snipes, the Game That Gave Birth to LANs

When I was in high school, I took the one programming class that was offered. We had a nice computer lab with IBM PS/2s that ran on a Novell LAN. The class was taught in Pascal which I knew somewhat from running open source software called Forum for my BBS. Back in those days, LANs were a very new thing.
 
To save money, our teacher, Mr. Smith, installed the Borland Turbo Pascal 3.x compiler on the server. My guess is that he didn’t have to pay for more than one license that way. Or that he was supposed to pay for more licenses but just conveniently didn’t.

Copyright © 2014 Jason Heltzer