Nerd Confessions 2: The Nerdling
I wrote a post on here several months back, which I called Nerd Confessions. The confessions were, essentially, things that I should be ashamed of as a nerd. For example, I built a telescope and had it signed by the guy who discovered Pluto, which I sold in college for beer money. See? I’m a bad nerd.
This time around, though, I have much darker things to confess. Here’s the thing: the offspring of nerds… are nerds. Yes, I must now confess to raising nerdlings.
Specifically, it’s my son who’s following in my geeky footsteps. He has really turned out to be every bit the nerd I was as a teenager. In a way, I feel bad for him. Nerds today don’t have a “thing” to call their own. I mean, in my day, there was Star Wars and Star Trek, nerdy toys like Transformers, nerdy hobbies like computers and video games… in other words, nerds were a strange and unique breed. The nerdlings of today are just… more. They like Star Wars MORE than the other kids. They’re into video games MORE than the other kids. They do MORE on the computer. Basically, everyone today is a bit nerdy. Nerdlings are just… more.
So, how can I tell that my son is a true nerdling, and not just another kid? Hmmm… perhaps a few examples will illustrate my point.
I recently took the kids to see Wreck-It Ralph. I’ve been looking forward to this one ever since I first saw the previews nearly a year ago. A kid movie about video game characters? Yes, please! So, we went to the theater, and my son, Bryce, sat at one end, beside him sat Hollie’s seven year old, then my daughter, then I sat on the far end. At one point in the movie, one of the characters goes to a control pad and enters: UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, B, A, START. At the exact same time, Bryce and I both leaned forward, looked at each other, and mouthed the words, “The Konami Code.” Then we couldn’t stop laughing. My daughter buried her face in her hands and growled, “Nerds!”
It’s funny, though, because my son and I had gone on a bit of an internet scavenger hunt about a week before seeing the movie. We were looking for websites which had included Konami Code Easter Eggs. We tracked down a number of them, mostly producing random weirdness like sound effects, music from games, or pop-up images… though most of the rumored coded websites were either wrong to begin with, or no longer included the code. Facebook, in fact, famously had a Konami Code Easter Egg years ago… but most of the cool old stuff from site programmers no longer exists on there (except for the Putnam emoticon).
Speaking of Wreck-It Ralph, when the movie was about to be released, the Disney website released a Fix-It Felix Jr. game. It was a cool, retro-style game, exactly as it appears in the movie. My son spent several hours one Saturday playing it, before throwing his hands up triumphantly.
Bryce: High score!!
Me: On the Disney site?
Me: Cool! Let me check it out!
I walked over to his computer, and immediately noticed a few items running on his taskbar.
Me: Wow. Yeah. Hmm. Interesting that your score is exactly 999,999,999,999 points there.
Bryce: (Giggling) Hmm… that IS interesting.
Me: And, yeah. So that’s about 999 billion, 998 million more points than the second place person on this game.
Bryce: Hmm, so it is. Guess I’m just awesome like that.
Me: You’re using some of my old hacking tools I see.
Bryce: (Grinning from ear to ear) oh, am I?
Me: You hacked the Disney website? Really?!
Bryce: Well, if they’re not going to protect the site from hacking, it really is my duty to hack them.
Me: Son, with great hax comes great responsibility.
Bryce: Are you going to quote the ENTIRE Spiderman speech?
Me: No. Just that part.
Bryce: Okay then.
Yes, I did at one point work hacking websites to look for security flaws. By that, I mean one specific person hired me to attempt to hack their sites (yes, porn sites), which was a task I had never performed before. So I dug up a number of tools which, frankly, were a bit outdated even at the time, and attempted to hack the sites. Long story short, my son is now the master of these old hacking programs. It took Disney Channel a few days to realize they not only needed to reset the high scores list, but that they also needed to rewrite some of the code on their game.
Bryce’s cousin was completely addicted to the game Minecraft, and wanted Bryce to share in his addiction. So he started a server and invited Bryce to help moderate the server. This may have SEEMED like a good idea, until Bryce logged in and placed TNT blocks under every house that players had built on the server. He then put pressure pads outside their front doors to trigger the explosives. The results, though hilarious, put an end to Bryce’s career as a Minecraft moderator.
Along those same lines, there is another game that the kids play called Roblox. Frankly, I can’t tell the difference between it and Minecraft, except that on Roblox everything looks like it’s made out of Legos. Bryce, ever the hacker, discovered a means of hacking the game to give him administrator rights on any server, and to insert any item into any game. His favorite items to insert were a zombie generator, which spews forth an endless supply of zombies, and nuclear bombs, which do exactly what you’d expect them to do. They keep deleting his accounts down at Roblox, Inc. for some reason.
The End of The
Bryce’s school is in a different district than the other two kids, so I never really know his schedule as well as I know the others. As we are now in the last week before the holiday break for the other two kids, I had to ask Bryce when his school went to break.
Bryce: The last day is the 21st.
Me: Okay, got it.
Bryce: You know, the same day as the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar.
Bryce: Pfft. No. They WOULD schedule school right up until the end of the world. Typical.
Totally typical. Ahhh, my nerdling.