You know those days where you seem you have woken up in a slapstick comedy–you’re tripping over your own feet, stepping on rakes and bashing yourself in the face with the handles–that sort of thing? Well, even Death has days like that. Dji Death Fails tells the story of one of those days. The poor being only wants to reap one soul. One!
Whilst I have yet to work out what career I would find most fulfilling, there are certain career-paths I find somewhat interesting. Talking to people in those professions would involve, you know, talking to people, and, therefore is out of the question. Luckily, there are webcomics about geeks that illustrate the ins and outs of those professions so I can get an idea of what it’d be like to work in those fields without having to spend years working my way into the career only to discover I hated it.
Join me in a tour of the lives of:
Web designers: .net by Brad Colbow, Ah, the life of a web designer. You just want to be simultaneously geeky and creative and the people who will give you money to do those things are entirely lacking geekiness or creativity.
Software developers: Not Invented Here by Bill Barnes and Paul Southworth. Sort of like Dilbert but more tech and less misogyny. And there’s a Goth character.
Internet service providers: User Friendly [this is currently on hiatus, but if you start at the beginning there are daily strips from 1997 to 2009. Hopefully, Illiad will eventually return to us with regularly scheduled strips.]
Video game developers: The Trenches by Mike Krahulik, Jerry Holkins, Scott Kurtz. The comic itself is enlightening, but the blog posts beneath each comic are written by people in the video game industry and those are…eye-opening.
Librarians: Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum. Books! Books everywhere! And the general public! The general public everywhere!
Grad students: PHD by Jorge Cham. Sometimes I think that if I excelled at structured learning, I’d enjoy a life in academia. Then I realise I’d have to get through grad school…
fucknogradschool is a Tumblr account (page? blog?) rather than a comic, but it gives an excellent idea of what post-grads feel/think/experience.
On the other hand…
In a similar vein, Penny Arcade is about gamers and gaming, written by gamers. I have never played a first person shooter or MMORPG or…most other types of very popular games, but I enjoy learning about them and hearing people’s reactions to them. Their blog is also amusing and informative and helps me keep up with what my gamer friends are on about.
Also, PA is where I learned about 3-D printing, thanks to these strips:
Here is a video of 3-D printing:
Super Extra Bonus Content!
Shapeways is a site with lots of nifty products created by the general public…who happen to know how to design in three dimensions. You can also create your own designs and they’ll print them for you.
Thank you for joining me in this tour of careers-I-find-interesting-but-not-interesting-enough-to-pursue.
And if you know of any web comics about writers or bookshop employees, please leave a comment.
You know you can fill your brain with interesting information you’ll never need by following one Wikipedia link to the next (there’s even a game based around that very thing ), but the Internet can make you smarter in other, more permanent ways. Using the magic of video.
[Warning: you can lose hours of your life on the following pages because there's always 'one...more...video...']
They do regular shows on experiments, science news, pioneers in scientific fields and loads of other geeky things. One of their newest features is the SciShow Talk Show. The initial episode:
Which leads directly to The Brain Scoop , a channel by Emily Graslie that focuses on the ‘interesting’ things behind the scenes at a Zoological museum. They have a shirt that says ‘ Everything is Dead ‘. That should tell you a lot.
Here’s a video for you to watch. Then watch more of hers.
I mentioned the vlogbrothers above, and they have a channel, Crash Course , which is what it sounds like. Quick courses on History (US & World) & English Literature, as well as Ecology, Chemistry and Biology.
This is the intro to English Literature.
Then there’s Vsauce , which has science, as well, but is also heavy on general trivia. Vsauce like to explain/answer interesting questions. Like the science of the friend-zone:
If you like your trivia heavier on the funny and delivered with an English accent, head over to the Quite Interesting channel , with all of the QI episodes. You’ll laugh your arse off and learn a few things, as well.
Speaking of learning to code, K has also done a Coursera course on Python; one of the assignments of which was making a rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock game and the final was to build your own asteroid-shooter game so he enjoyed himself immensely. He’s also taken a course through Udacity and recommends that, as well. There are loads of free courses online, but I’m only including those I’ve personally heard good things about. If you’ve tried a site you liked, hit up the comments and let me know.
There’s a Coursera course coming up in March on Self Knowledge I’m considering doing, though my life is going to be in some turmoil due to employment fun, so we’ll see how that goes. If you’re taking it, please let me know. Perhaps we can be study-buddies.
If you need an information-fix and don’t have time to watch videos for some reason, there’s the Twitter.
I’ve recently got onto the Twitter and one of my favourite accounts is Curiosity , the most recent inhabitant of Mars. It posts in the first person, which is bloody fantastic.
The fabulous Professor Brian Cox ( @ProfBrianCox ) has a twitter feed that’s just as enjoyable as you’d think.
For the funny trivia-lovers, there’s @mental_floss and @qikipedia , which is run by The QI Elves and makes me snort with laughter at least once a day.
There are a bajillionty [totally scientific number] of other educational twitter feeds, please let me know which ones you like. Before I end this post, I have to mention @BBCNews , because just today it brought this to my iPod:
Thanks to their feed, I got to watch that before I was even out of bed this morning. Learning things rocks
There is an implicit code that customers rely on. If a book cover has raised lettering, metallic lettering, or raised metallic lettering, then it is telling the reader: Hello. I am an easy-to-read work on espionage, romance, a celebrity and/or murder. To readers who do not care for such things, this lettering tells them: Hello. I am Crap. Such books can use only glossy paper for the jacket; Serious Books can use glossy finish as well, but it is only Serious Books that are allowed to use matte finish.
Diminutively sized paperbacks, like serial romances or westerns or dieting and astrology guides, are aimed at the uneducated. But diminutively sized hardcover books are aimed at the educated—excepting those that are very diminutive, which are religious books aimed at the uneducated—and unless they are in a highly rectangular format, in which case they are point-of-purchase books aimed at the somewhat-but-not entirely educated. However, vertically rectangular diminutive softcover books, which tend to be pocket travel guides, are aimed at the educated. But horizontally rectangular diminutive softcover books—a genre pioneered by Garfield Gains Weight—are not.
Then there are the colours. Bright colours, and shiny colours, are necessary for the aforementioned books with raised lettering. Black will work too, but only if used to set off the bright and shiny colours. Because, remember, with the customer base in mind, the book will need to be a bright and shiny object. Conversely, a work of Serious Literature will have muted, tea-stained colours. Black is okay here too, but only if used to accentuate cool blues and greys and greens.
Woe and alas to any who transgress these laws. A number of reviewers railed against The Bridges of Madison County, because it used the diminutive hardcover size and muted colour scheme of, say, an Annie Dillard book—thus cruelly tricking readers of Serious Literature into buying crap. Not to be outdone, the Harvard University Press issued Walter Benjamin’s opus The Arcades Project with gigantic raised metallic lettering. One can only imagine the disgust of blowhard fiftysomethings in bomber jackets as they slowly realised that the Project they were reading about was a cultural analysis of 19th century Parisian bourgeoisie—and not, say, a tale involving renegade Russian scientists and a mad general aboard a nuclear submarine.
Finally, on Serious Books and Crap alike there will be a head-shot photo of The Author sitting while looking pensive or smiling faintly into the indeterminate distance—the one pose that has no existence in the author’s actual daily life. The size of this photo will be in inverse proportion to the quality of the book. If the photo is rendered in colour, it is not a Serious Book. If there is no author photo at all, then it is a Serious Book indeed—perhaps even a textbook.
If a colour photo of the author occupies the entire front cover, the book is unequivocal Crap.