50 Skills Every Real Geek Should Have


Back in our September 2008 issue, we published a list of 9 Skills Every Nerd Needs – a lighthearted examination of the essential abilities Maximum PC readers should have in their geek arsenal. We still stand by that list, but we were somewhat one-upped last month when we saw that Gizmodo had since run its own list of 50 key geek skills. Their list was very respectable, but we thought that we could do better by not only expanding and refining our original story, but actually teaching you these skills. The highest echelon of geeks will be able to do everything in this list, and this is by no means a full categorization of the complete geek skillset – only what we consider to be the most indispensable abilities. Have anything to add to our list? Post it in the comments!

Name These Connectors!

Finding hidden hardware gems in bins of archaic cards at computer shows and swap meets is an ever-so-crucial nerd skill. Frequently the only way to discern the difference is to do an on-the-spot ID of the edge connector. True nerds should be able to identify even the most esoteric connector in their sleep (if they sleep with their eyes open, that is). Can you separate the crap from the kick ass? No cheating!

A. PCI-Express connector
B. DDR memory
C. Dual-channel RIMM

Run All Your Essential Apps on a USB Stick

Any real nerd is almost sure to have a USB thumbdrive in his pocket at all times. After all, USB flash storage is pretty much the best way to keep data conveniently at hand. What the average nerd might not know, however, is that it’s possible to install all sorts of apps on a thumb drive, meaning that you can use your USB stick as a mobile platform for your browser, email and instant message client, office suite and more. That means you can access these programs, settings intact, from any computer with a spare USB slot.

It’s all made possible by PortableApps.com, an open source platform for portable software. To get started with PortableApps, go to this page and download whichever version of the portable suite suits your needs. Then run the installer, and choose to install to the root of your USB drive. In the future, if you want to add additional portable applications just download the app, then select “add a new app” from PortableApps’ options menu and browse to the .paf.exe file you downloaded.

Right now, there are portable versions of heavyweights like Firefox, Thunderbird, and OpenOffice, as well as a whole ton of other, awesome programs.

Straighten the Pins on an Older CPU

There are two quick ways to realign bent pins on older CPUs.

The first, quickest way is to take a credit card and run it through the rows of pins in each direction, which will realign lightly-bent pins.

If a pin is bent too far for the credit card trick, use the barrel of a mechanical pencil to sheath the pin and gently bend it back up straight.

Know the 13 Basic HTML Tags

Dreamweaver is for sissies; real geeks prove their skills by going old school and coding web pages by hand in notepad. But even if you can't keep up with the newest iterations of hypertext markup language, you should still be able to at least edit website code to make minor adjustments. So in case you’ve forgotten, here are the 13 most basic HTML tags:

<h1> to <h6> -- Heading styles from large to small
<p> -- Start a new paragraph
<br> or <br /> -- Create a single line break
<! – Your Comment Here -- > -- Make a hidden comment
<hr> -- Mark the page with a horizontal rule line
<b> -- Bold text
<em> -- Emphasize text
<strong> -- Strong emphasis
<i> -- Italicize text
<u> -- Underline text
&nbsp; -- Insert a non-breaking space
<a href=”URL”> -- Anchor a link
<img src= “URL”  alt=”description”> -- Insert an image

Get Through to Executive Customer Service

One of the most frustrating experiences in a nerd’s life is when a part you’ve bought turns out to be a dud. When something breaks, you have to hit up the customer service line, which can often be an excruciating process involving an endless circle of robotic menus, long hold times, and patronizing, outsourced technicians (yes, I am sure it’s plugged in, thank you for asking). However, there’s a couple of ways to make the process a little easier.

For one, if you’re stuck dealing with a robot phone menu, there’s usually a way to get through directly to a human operator. Generally, ignoring the prompts and repeatedly mashing the 0, 9, * or # keys will eventually confuse the system enough that it’ll send you to an operator. If you have a specific company that’s giving you trouble, go to www.gethuman.com , where there’s an enormous list of customer service numbers, and how to get through to a human at each one.

Second, if you’re not having any luck with the “tier 1” tech support and they won’t elevate you when you ask, consider going over their heads yourself.  Search for the phone number of the offending company’s corporate office (the Consumerist has a whole bunch available , or you can search for their corporate info on Yahoo! Finance, if they’re publically traded) and give them a call.

Beat Quake in Under an Hour

The speedrun seems to be a lost art. Sure, new games like Mirror’s Edge encourage that you replay its levels in a time trial mode to compete against other players in the world, but these sanctioned game modes don’t carry the credibility or audacity of classic Quake speed runners. We’re still amazed every time we watch a video of someone beating all of Quake in less than 15 minutes. It’s not just the brevity of the run that impresses us; it’s how elegant and gracefully these players navigate through levels, capitalizing on every perfectly aimed rocket jump and timed bunny hop to shave seconds off of their run time. Watch and learn from these masters.

Build a Hackintosh

Admit it—you’ve cast some sidelong glances at OS X, wondering to yourself if Apple’s shiny OS really lives up to the hype. Well we’re here to tell you that it’s OK to be curious.

Even if your pro-PC leanings have prohibited you from buying a Mac, they don’t have to keep you from trying out OS X. The kind folks over at LifeHacker have posted a how-to about making a Hackintosh —a system custom-built from non-Apple components running OS X. So go ahead; let yourself experiment. Who knows, you might just like it.

Watch TV Shows on the Internet (Legally!)

For quite a while, watching streaming TV on the internet meant suffering through tiny, poorly encoded video on YouTube, 10 minutes at a time, hoping whatever you were watching didn’t get removed before you were done. But those times are behind us now, with a host of corporate-sponsored sites offering legal, ad-supported shows and movies in (comparatively) luxurious resolution.

So what are the options available? Hulu’s still pretty much the best site out there, offering a huge array of full-length shows from NBC, FOX, Comedy Central, FX and others. Veoh.com hosts ABC’s programs, as well as others, and YouTube has recently reached an agreement with CBS to host their shows. One of our favorite video services is southparkstudios.com, which hosts every potty-mouthed episode of South Park for viewing on demand.

Streaming movies are just now becoming available from several sources. Hulu has a modest selection of free flicks, NetFlix offers streaming movies to subscribers, and Amazon, Blockbuster.com and others allows you to stream videos for a per-movie fee.

Get Around the Content Filter on Public Computers

Are the content restrictions on public computers cramping your style. Don’t worry about it; there’s two easy ways to bypass those filters completely.

If you’re just doing some normal web browsing, and aren’t planning to send any passwords or sensitive information, you can try using a simple web proxy. Proxy.org maintains a list of free anonymous proxies. If you’re worried about privacy, using Tor is a more secure option. If you install Tor on a copy of the (aforementioned) portable edition of Firefox, and keep it with you on a USB drive, you can surf the web anonymously from any computer that allows you to run your own software.

Recite pi to 23 Decimal Places

3.14 may have been enough accuracy for 10th grade geometry, but it’s just not going to win you any respect from the other nerds. We consider 23 places the bare minimum for pi memorization.

If you’re having trouble dealing with all that, try “chunking” your memory. That is to say, instead of simply trying to remember each number in sequence (a task that humans tend not to be very good at) try to remember the numbers in groups or chunks that have more significance for you. If that’s not doing it for you, consider piems —stories and poems structured around digits of pi.

For the record, pi is: 3.141592653589793238462643...

Replace the Controller Board on a Hard Drive

Hard drive failure is more common than you think, but the culprit isn’t always a faulty platter. If your hard disk goes dead and you didn’t hear any screeching death rattles, one thing you could always try is replacing the drive’s controller board. It’s a long shot, but an essential skill nonetheless that occasionally works.

Replacing a hard drive’s controller circuit is as simple as unscrewing the PCB board from the bottom of the drive and detaching the ribbon connector. Make sure you can do this without exposing any of the drive’s internals. You also have to make sure that the new board comes from EXACTLY the same hard drive model as your defective unit – the make, model, and even firmware have to match. Mount the new board in with the same screws and connect the ribbon cable. If  you did everything right and the problem was indeed the controller board, you should be able to retrieve your data.

Benchmark Your Computer

There are a lot of ways to increase the performance of your PC. But what fun is it unless you can actually see how much faster your machine runs. You might be able to get a vague idea of how much it’s improved by observing its performance while playing games, but unless you thoroughly benchmark your computer you’ll never know for sure. Professional-grade benchmarking software like we use for our reviews here at Maximum PC runs pretty pricey, but it’s not impossible to benchmark your system using entirely free software.

In fact, we’ve posted a guide telling you how to do exactly that.

Decorate Your Room Using Only Printer Paper

Some people might think that decorating a room requires a trip to Crate and Barrel and an open line of credit, but if you’re a real nerd you know better. You know that you can get all your decorating done with nothing more than a printer and some paper.

To cover your walls, you don’t need fancy stuff like “artwork,” or even real posters, all you need is the Rasterbator . Find a reasonably high-res image, and the Rasterbator will blow it up and split it into single-page-sized chunks for you to tape together. However, if you want your poster to be one contiguous image, be prepared to spend some time with a ruler and razorblade trimming off the white borders.

If your shelves are feeling a little barren, it might be time to fill them up with a little papercraft. Assuming you’ve been on the internet over the last couple years, you’re probably aware of the general idea behind papercraft—you print out a template and fold it, origami-style, into a little paper model. What you might not have known is that it’s easy to create your own papercraft templates. So get to it!

Securely Erase Your Data So it Can't be Recovered

When you format your disk, most of the data it contains is not actually deleted. Rather, the disk space that it occupies is made inaccessible and overwriteable by the file system. Until it is actually overwritten, the data on the formatted disk is still recoverable by anyone with the right tools. If you want to more thoroughly destroy your data (without destroying your hard disk) you’ll want to perform a “zero fill,” an operation which overwrites a pattern of 0s over all the bits in the hard disk.

Most hard disk manufacturers offer some sort of drivers on their website which will allow you to zero fill your drive. These drivers are the most reliable option, but if you can’t find them, there’s also free apps such as killdisk , which should do the job on any hard disk.

There is some theoretical chance that magnetic remanence could allow someone to recover data from a zeroed drive, but it’s such longshot that you’re better off not wasting money on software that promises to overwrite your drive some ridiculous number of times.

Get into a Windows Computer if you Forgot Your Password

So, you managed to lose the password to your Windows account. How screwed are you? If you’re a true nerd, not very. There are a couple of things you can do to try and recover your password.

First, if you haven’t changed the default settings on your Windows install (which you should have) you may be able to log into an unprotected administrator account by starting the PC up in safe mode. To do this, press f8 as the computer boots up. If you can get into the system in this mode, you can reset other user’s passwords by clicking the “User Accounts” icon in the control panel.

If that doesn’t work, your best bet it to attempt to crack the password using a cracker like ophcrack loaded onto a bootable CD, floppy or USB drive.

Hide Porn from Your Significant Other

Want to keep your forays into the internet’s seedier spots unnoticed by your spouse? No problem. For most users, enabling a simple feature like FireFox or Safari’s “private browsing” feature will do the trick. These features make it so that your browser temporarily stops storing any information about your activities on the web, meaning that your wife won’t get any nasty surprises the next day when Google autocompletes her search to something obscene. If you absolutely must store files to your computer that you don’t want anyone else to know about, use a thumb drive (they’re dirt cheap these days) and hide it in your sock drawer or something.

However, if you’re dating an FBI agent, or are just absurdly paranoid, there are more secure solutions. You could just encrypt all the illicit data, but then you might have to face questions like “Honey, why is there a password-protect .rar file sitting on the desktop?”

To get around this, hide your data steganographically. That is to say hide it inside another file. You might have seen this technique used on the internet (say, as part of an ARG) to hide a picture inside of an audio clip, for instance, but it can also be used to hide larger amounts of data. Using the open source app TrueCrypt, you can create an encrypted disk of any size inside of an inconspicuous-looking  file.

Explain What E=MC^2 Means to a Liberal Arts Major

Sure, you know what it means. The mass-energy equivalence is Einstein’s most famous revelation and the key to his theory of special relativity. But that’s all mumbo jumbo to a Liberal Arts major, who’d rather sing sonnets than study science. Hence the challenge of explaining this famous equation in layman’s terms. Defining the variables (E is energy, m is mass, and c is the speed of light in a vacuum) may be easy enough, but getting someone to wrap their heads around the concept of how those relate will take lots of patience and even some creativity. Our tip: speak in their language (poetry or song), and do it over a glass of merlot. Or two.

Abstain from Buying Extended Warranties

Yeah, it sucks when one of your favorite doodads breaks down just one week after the manufacturer’s warranty expires, but in the long run you’re doing yourself and your wallet a disservice if you shell out for the extended warranties.

Instead, read user reviews and consumer reports about electronics before you make a purchase, and make sure you buy brands with a good reputation for reliability. Also, compare the manufacturer’s warranties offered by the devices’ makers; some companies offer much longer coverage than others.

Also, most major credit cards offer extended warranty protection. This means that if you buy something that comes with a manufacturer’s warranty, and you pay for it with your credit card, the credit card company will automatically provide some amount of warranty coverage after the manufacturer’s warranty expires. Visa cards, for instance, will match the term of the original warranty in extended coverage, up to an additional year.

Use Photoshop or GIMP to Imperceptibly Doctor a Photo

No, adding humorously misspelled text to a picture of a cat doesn’t count.

They used to say that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Now, thanks to the power and ubiquity of Photoshop (or GIMP, for the open source fans and the extra-scrupulous), everyone knows that a photo isn’t worth anything but lies and deception. They also used to say “fight fire with fire,” and that’s still good advice. Learn to use Photoshop yourself and you’ll be better equipped to see through other people’s photo trickery.

Use a DSLR in Full Manual Mode

Modern digital cameras are pretty user-friendly. You just turn them on—maybe adjust a setting or two, depending on the type of photo you’ll be shooting—then just point and click. However, if you ever want to take photos at more than an Ashton Kutcher level, you’re going to have to learn to use an SLR.

And sure, modern DSLRs can do most of the focusing and aperture adjustments for you, but if you really want to shoot like a pro you’ll need to be able to operate it in full manual. It’s not just for bragging rights, either; manually operating your DSLR will result in a better understanding of the operation and physical underpinnings of your camera, and will ultimately make you a better photographer.

Mooch Your Neighbor's Wi-Fi

Even without getting into any real hardcore hacking, there are a couple of things you can do to snag some connectivity off of nearby wireless networks. First, check the list of in-range routers for those using the factory-default router name, such as “linksys” or “belkin,” as these are the most likely to be unencrypted or poorly protected. If they have are encrypted, try common default passwords like “admin,” “password,” or the name of the router. If that doesn’t work, use this enormous list of router-specific defaults to find some others to try.

Protect your Wi-Fi

There are just a few things you need to do to keep your brand new wireless router secure. All of these changes can be made from the router’s setting page, which you get to by entering its IP address into a browser.

1.    Change the router’s name. Using the default name is an invitation to hackers.
2.    Change the admin password. As mentioned in the section above, the default admin passwords for every router are easily available to every hacker with two brain cells to rub together.
3.    Activate the router’s encryption. Use WPA encryption rather than WEP, as long as all machines on the network can use it, since it’s much more secure. Obviously, pick a strong passphrase.

Create an Animated Spray in Valve Games

Expressing your individuality online can be difficult, especially if you’re a gamer. While running and gunning your way through games like Counter-Strike: Source or Team Fortress 2 it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. But leaving your mark on the world is easier than you might think. Animated sprays are a great way for you to tell your enemy that, not only have they been pwned, but that you're the one responsible.

Custom animated sprays were limited to the most elite players in the days of Counter-Strike 1.6, but now that Source is here that’s all changed. So prepare yourself for a quick and easy way to make your own spray and let the lolcats run wild!

Set up a RAID

What kind of nerd would be satisfied with a meager one hard drive acting alone? With prices on enormous drives hitting comically low levels, now’s a perfect time to set up a big ol’ RAID. If, somehow, you’re not already familiar with the different types of arrays and their relative strengths, check out our article here . If you already have a RAID and want to build it into an inexpensive NAS, we’ve got you covered there, too.

Calculate a Pitcher’s Earned Run Average

If you thought that nerds and sports don’t mix, you’re dead wrong. As long as a sport has more statistics than you can shake a spreadsheet at, we’re all over it. A pitcher’s ERA, for instance, is nine times the number of earned runs he allows in a season, divided by the number of innings he’s pitched in that season.

Run Two Operating Systems

Dual-booting two versions of Windows or running Linux on a separate partition can be a life-saver when running into compatibility issues with Vista. Plus, power users never want to be confined to one computing environment when they can take advantage of multiple operating systems. It’s not difficult to install a second OS on a second hard drive or empty partition – you just boot from an installation disc and choose the appropriate storage device. But how about getting Linux to install without formatting or repartitioning your hard drive? Our guide explains how you can try out all the features of the Ubuntu Linux distribution without screwing up your existing data.

Install a Hard Drive in a Laptop

Some people get nervous about opening up their laptops. After all, everything in there is so small and delicate-looking. But a real nerd knows that laptop hard drives are just about as easy to replace as desktop disks, and isn’t afraid to dig into his notebook’s innards.

Remove a hard drive from a notbook generally only involves unscrewing the bottom panel of the laptop, unplugging the hard disk, then unscrewing the drive’s bracket and removing it from the computer. Then, remove a couple of screws to slide the actual drive out of the bracket. Reverse the procedure to install the new drive.

Pull Off an Elaborate Prank

It takes a lot of smarts to pull off a truly exceptional prank, so it makes sense that most of the all-time great pranks have been pulled off by the nerds at super-brainy institutions like MIT. Of course, you don’t have to be able to come up with pranks as involved as Caltech’s , but you should keep a trick or two in your repertoire. After all, you never know when the next great prank war is going to break out.

Rocket Jump Without Using a Macro

1.    Run forward.
2.    Quickly aim down.
3.    Press fire and jump at the same time.
4.    Touch the sky!

That’s it. Rocket jumping, the art of propelling yourself high in the air with the help of explosives, is actually easier than it looks. Whether you want to launch yourself to the roof above a control point or sail across a wide ditch, the only thing you need to remember is that you have to fire your rocket at the exact moment you jump. The most common problem newbies have with rocket jumping is launching the rocket too late, which doesn’t get you as high up. Also keep in mind that momentum matters, so if you want to fly forward, you have to be running in that direction as you rocket jump. Expert players will also be able master the Rocket Crouch Jump, which gets you also twice as high (and far) if you press the crouch key immediately after you jump and fire. It’s a little tricky, but the payoff is worth it.

This age-old tactic doesn’t come without a price. In Team Fortress 2, for example, a perfectly executed rocket jump takes away 51 health points. In addition to splash damage from your rocket, you also lose health from falling after a skyscraping jump (another 25 health in TF2). Avoid this extra penalty by landing on a level above your starting position.

Wire Your Home with Ethernet Cable

The future may be wireless, but in the present it’s still very handy to have your house wired with Ethernet cable. Unfortunately, if carpentry isn’t really your strong suit, the job of running thousands of feet of cable through your walls, floors and ceilings might seem a little bit daunting. But take heart in the fact that Maximum PC EIC Will Smith didn’t get scare d when faced with the same challenge, and everything worked out fine.

Know the 6 Most Important Linux Commands

Want to use Linux? While it’s not strictly necessary anymore, knowing these TK Linux commands will help you in your quest to attain ultimate nerdiness.

* cd – used to navigate to different directories on your system, cd .. takes up up one directory, while cd / takes you to the root of the drive, and cd with no arguments takes you to your home directory
* ls – like dir on DOS, ls lists the contents of the directory you’re currently in
* cp – used to copy files to a new location on your hard drive cp /home/wsmith/test.txt /home/bjones/text.txt
* mv – used to copy a file to a new destination, then demolish the old one. Uses the same syntax as cp
* mkdir – makes a new directory at your current location
* rm – deletes the files specified. With the -r option, it also deletes subdirectories.

Rip Your CDs to FLAC

Everyone knows how to rip a CD to MP3 using iTunes, but if that’s the way you convert your tunes to a portable-friendly format, you’re doing your ears a disservice. While MP3 and other lossy formats sound OK on tinny earbuds and portable players, hook them up to a true audiophile rig, you’ll be disappointed. Ripping your CDs losslessly gives you a bit-for-bit identical audio file at a fraction of the size of an uncompressed CD. Of course, if you still insist on ripping to MP3, you can use EAC and LAME to do that too.

Stream Your Movies, Music, and Photos to Any TV in Your House

You’ve taken the time to rip and transcode hundreds of DVDs for playback on your iPhone, PSP, or other digital media player. You also have a current-gen gaming console—an Xbox 360 or PS3—hooked up to a giant TV in your living room. Right now, you have everything you need to stream your high-quality DVD rips from your computer into your living room using TVersity and our handy how-to guide .

Install and Configure a Virtual Machine

Using virtual machine software you can install multiple OSes on one machine and switch between them, without rebooting! You can use VMs to do everything from run servers to setup a sandbox for testing potentially infected files and applications. Getting started is as easy as downloading virtual machine software, installing it and creating your first machine, then installing Windows, Linux, BSD, or pretty much any other OS on it. Want to move your VM to another machine? That’s easy too, just copy the file that contains your VM to your other machine, install the virtual machine software, and you’re ready to go.

Run Multiple Monitors Like a Pro

There’s no better way to assert your geek ascendancy than to load your desk to the buckling point with multiple monitors. But any old layman can plug an extra monitor into the back of his box and extend his desktop onto it in the display options menu, a poweruser knows that to unlock the full potential of his many displays, he needs a software solution like Ultramon. If you’re unsure about shelling out the 40 bucks for Ultramon , check out our guide on the app and its alternatives.

If you want to take multiple displays to the next level, consider using multiple computers, connected with a virtual KVM switch like Synergy . Now that’s sure to impress the kiddies.

Hack Firmware on a Router

Navigating through a router’s multitude of menus and configuration settings can be confusing, especially given the obtuse documentation typically bundled with the device. That’s why we prefer third-party open-source firmware, which not only streamlines a router’s graphical user interface but also adds robust functionality. For Linksys routers, our firmware of choice is Tomato ( www.polarcloud.com/tomato ). As with all third-party firmware upgrades, installing Tomato does come with a slight risk of damaging your router. While we’ve never had any problems with this software, it’ll definitely void your router’s original warranty. Read our guide here !

Pick a Lock

Picking locks in video games has always been pretty easy; you make a skill check, break a pick or two, maybe even play a little mini-game, and the door swings right open. In the real world picking a lock is a lot tougher, but it’s still something you can learn to do with a little practice. You can find a great article about how to pick a lock at wikihow , complete with video, diagrams, and information on how to make your own picks.

Once you’ve mastered the basic pick-and-tension-wrench method, check out the article on bumping a lock. This is an even more sophisticated and efficient method for picking a lock, and is sure to impress your friends.

Differentiate Between Dr. Pepper and Mr. Pibb

Ah, the immortal question: Which reigns supreme, Dr Pepper or Mr PiBB? Well, actually it’s not much of a contest. After all, there’s a reason that Pepper got his PhD and PiBB is still stuck slaving away in the world of blue-collar sodas. Hell, the kids these days don’t even call Mr. PiBB “Mr.” anymore; he’s just “PiBB” now. It’s shameful, really.

But just knowing which is superior isn’t enough. A true nerd can distinguish between the two in a double-blind taste test and can reverse-engineer each into its secret ingredients. There’s a long standing rumor that Dr. Pepper is made with prune juice, but it turns out that this is false . Us? Of course we could tell you what the secret is, but we’ll let you figure it out for yourself.

Avoid DRM on everything

DRM is certainly a hot button issue these days, and there’s no better way to register your opinions than with your pocketbook. It would be nearly impossible to avoid DRM completely without resorting to piracy or giving up on a lot of fun things, but there are steps you can take to companies who release their IP without DRM. For instance, you can try awesome, DRM-free games such as Sins of a Solar Empire and World of Goo.

Most digital music stores these days are DRM free, including Amazon and Walmart’s stores, so you’re pretty much in the clear there, although most of iTunes is still off limits. Unfortunately, if you want DRM free video, Bittorrent is still pretty much your only option.

Download Flash Video and Bend it to Your Will

Any old schmuck can watch streaming video on sites like YouTube, but a real nerd’s nerd can save the video to disk, convert it to run on his PSP and his modded DS, and save it to DVD, all before you can say “copyright infringement.” If you can’t do all that, educate yourself.

Get Around In DOS

With every passing year, the percentage of nerds who grew up in a time after DOS gets larger. So listen up, young’ns, because even if it’s not something you have to use very much anymore, if you don’t know how to at least get around in DOS you’re going to look like a real PC lightweight.

Commit these seven commands to heart, and you’ll never find yourself stranded in DOS:

CD : Change directory; essential for getting around
DIR : List the contents of the current directory.
COPY : Copy a file, obviously. The syntax is “copy [filename] [destination filepath and filename]”
MKDIR : Create a directory. The syntax is “mkdir [directory name]”
MOVE : Move a file. Used with the same syntax as COPY
DEL : Delete a specified file.
RD : Delete a specified empty directory. If you want to delete a directory with contents, use RD /S /Q which will delete the entire directory tree

Rip a DVD to h.264

As hard drives get to be bigger and cheaper than ever before, it makes more and more sense to rip your optical data to your disk. Video transcoding can be kind a tricky process, but we’ve written a guid e to make the process much easier. So check it out and start clearing off your DVD shelf today.

Overclock Your PC and Tune Your BIOS

If you’re still running your computer’s components at their factory default settings, you’re missing out on a lot of potential power. You can check out our guide for overclocking your CPU and RAM by following this link , and then continue on to our piece about overclocking your videocard .

But there’s no reason to stop there. Check out our in-depth article on tweaking your BIOS to get even more control over the nitty-gritty inner workings of your rig.

Use Remote Desktop

One of the most powerful mobile computing tools available to Windows XP and Vista users is Remote Desktop. It’s pretty easy to set up and allows you to securely access and control your home or office computer from anywhere. To use Remote Desktop, follow these steps:

1.    On the host computer, enable Remote Desktop. On an XP computer this is done by clicking on the “System” icon in the control panel, and then navigating to the “Remote” tab. Once there, check the box marked “Allow users to connect remotely to this computer” and click the “Select Remote Users…” button to select which users can connect remotely, bearing in mind that any users with administrator access can connect automatically.

2.    Assuming your host computer is connected to the internet through a router, you’ll need to enable port forwarding for port 3389. If you do not know how to do this, simply hit this link , select your router model from the list and follow the instructions.

3.    In order for other computers to connect to the host computer, you’ll need to either get a static IP address from your ISP, or use a service such as DynDNS.com, which will allow you to have a subdomain which always points to your computer, even if you have a dynamic IP. Also, make sure Remote Desktop is configured as an exception in Windows Firewall.

4.    On the client computer, click on the Start button, then Accessories, then Communications. Click on the Remote Desktop Connection in that menu. In the menu that pops up specify your host computer’s IP address, and click connect. Then enter your login information just like you normally would, and you’re all set.

Debate the Relative Merits of an Imperial Star Destroyer vs. the USS Enterprise

It’s the debate to end all debates. The quintessential battle between two breeds of geek: the hypothetical confrontation between the USS Enterprise (1701-D from The Next Generation) from Star Trek and an Imperial Star Destroyer from Star Wars. The dispute will probably never be resolved, but satisfaction doesn’t come from a resolution, it stems from the details of the discussion. Do lasers have any effect on the Enterprises’s shields? (No, according the TNG episode “The Outrageous Okona”) Should you take into account TIE fighters? What about the Force? We could go on and on .

To adequately prepare for the debate, you should watch all 176 episodes of The Next Generation along with the three original Star Wars films. In addition, you can familiarize yourself with the various technical manuals released detailing the specifications for each ship, though these might not be considered “canon”. Pointing out technical inconsistencies and plot loopholes is also a reliable way to getting on your opponent’s nerves.

Build Your Own Computer

We’re a little hesitant to say too much about this last item on the list, since we don’t want to insult our reader’s PC IQ too much and we figure that if you read Maximum PC, you’ve probably built at least one PC. However, the bottom line is that if you’ve never built your own computer from parts, you might as well just turn in your pocket protector right now, because you’re not a real nerd.

If you’ve somehow made it this far without putting together a PC and want to start now, or just want our advice on a powerful machine you can make without breaking the bank, check out our most recent No-Compromises Budget PC guide and get building!

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