Nerds Rule!

Nerd, Geek, Hacker; The lines are definitely blurred and there are definitely people out there whose mind’s think differently.The older I get the more in-touch with my inner-nerd I become, and the more happiness that part of my self brings me.

What did you do last night. It was a typical saturday night, The revellers were revelling, the rabblers were rabbling.

And the geeks? Well, we were hacking. Firstly an attempt to fix a broken ICD (In circuit debugger) and then a lengthy conversation over dinner about the complexities of tracking supersonic aircraft with combination radars (one of the geeks works for an unnamed company that develops military radars.

Then the conversation moved to using solar flares to map a 3d model of the earth’s density, and then later still, a conversation about how to hack a pic into a remote controlled car and make it drive a set path. Next logical progression? A discussion about building control better control circuits and the maximum possible data transfer rate over FM, farm wide wireless sensor system for use on farms and why you don’t want to stand in front of one of the biggest radars in the world. The answer? Obviously because, as it spins quite fast, it is likely to know up side the head and leave you unconscious. Oh, and high powered lasers and an unfortunate incident inside a dam wall.

The point I’m trying to make is this is where I feel most at home. In the presence of other hackers. Kindred spirits. I love to learn constantly, I crave the knowledge and the outside-the-box, anything-is-possible philosophy that comes with it. Perhaps this is why I am so happy being a frog… you never know what’s going to be your next challenge and you know that there are bright people around to help you come up with a solution.

Anyways, back to last night. While somewhere else in cape town another group of 20-somethings were likely drinking themselves into oblivion and using their best pick up lines on other, just as alcoholicly-oblivious, females, we were plotting our next hack.

Someone said “Let’s distil the pineapple juice stuff”, or something to that effect. The pineapple juice stuff was something that my best friend’s house mate had “concocted” a while back. I think it is just pineapple mash, some yeast and some water. It definitely tasted like there was some alcohol in there.

Now, first I must be clear on something. We all drink. Occasionally we even drink to much. I have nothing against those who choose to drink themselves into oblivion. I’m sure they think our geek-hacker-nerd evening was just as much a waste of time as we think theirs was. To each his own.

Ok, so checklist: Digital probe thermometer, check. Boiling container, check. Tubing, check. Ice, container for ice, check. You get the idea.

So we set rig it all up in the most liebig condenser looking fashion possible (this is at about midnight) and do some test runs to make sure we can keep the temperature of a liquid at a stable 80ish.

I must point out that, at this point in time, the chemical engineer in the group is lying on a mattress in the lounge shouting the occasional instruction at us. She is not too concerned about the process, but rather that we don’t kill ourselves. In true geek form, her book is far more entertaining than a group of electronic engineers and programmer trying to make alcohol.

The kitchen at this point looks like a meth lab.

Moving on. Get the temperature up to 80ish, notice the tiny bubbles, see the viscous looking liquid condensing in the tube and running down all the way into the clean black cat peanut butter jar. Yup, the pinky finger test confirms, it kicks like meths (apparently someone knows what meths tastes like).

Now, in true geek form, after about an hour of distilling, and probably a little over 30ml of alcohol we all take the tiniest of sips and decide that the only logical next step is to pour the rest of what we have into a saucer, turn off the lights, and set fire to it. Awwww, pretty.




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