Linkus Maximums

“If” is a pretty powerful tool for financial planning.  A good bit of advice here “ifs” let you find what you need to do to reach your goals.

Generational Spaceships are an awful unlikely proposal according to Kim Stanley Robinson, though there may be some interesting solutions to the challenges discussed.  Very thought-provoking reading, though for me I say head for the stars no matter what.

Women face barriers to leadership – and we make it too easy to put incompetent men in positions of power.  The Harvard Business review exposes paradoxes of becoming a leader versus being a good one, cultural biases, and more in a thought-provoking piece.

Leaderless resistance is usually doomed to failure – if not a sign of it.  Intriguing piece period, but also relevant if Daesh is shifting to a more distributed network of malcontents – as it seems to be loosing.  Also?  They’re also very, very unpopular among Muslims of the world.

Careers For Geeks: Advantages And Disadvantages

I’m pretty much an unrepentant geek, which is sort of obvious by . . . well, everything.  As you may guess I consider it an advantage in my life and, obviously, my career.  It’s the career I’d like to talk about right now.

As I speak and write on geek careers, it’s also fairly obvious I consider being a geek to be an advantage in a career.  The enthusiasm, the passion, the engagement, the productivity are excellent tools for growth, improvement, and success.  There seems to be little downside, career-wise, for a geek.

Actually, there are some disadvantages to be faced.  So I’d like to do a quick tour of geek career advantages – and disadvantages.  The advantages may be familiar, but the disadvantages are sneaky buggers – and the differences are important.

The Geek Career Advantages

Being a Geek, which I define as an applied intellectual – we think and tinker – is a pretty much outright career advantage if your interests relate to your job.  If your interests are tangental to the job you often build skills and abilities and traits that are helpful. The positives are pretty positive.

The issue is leveraging them, because we take them for granted.

What are these advantages?  I explored them a lot before in Fan To Pro and my speeches, but here’s a good roundup:

  • Passion – Simply there are things you care about and you put time and energy to them.  That passion drives you and can carry you past adversity and challenges – even when the challenge is overcoming your own lack of knowledge.  It also shows when you communicate it.
  • Ideas – Geeks experiences give them many ideas.  Ideas for careers, ideas for networking, ideas for businesses.  With our fellow geeks we can always find some new idea of a job, a career, a skill, a project.
  • Explore Careers – Geeks are usually hands-on people, which also means that in our geekdom we can explore entire careers.  Try out public speaking at a convention.  Learn management running a game group.  Build a website.
  • Lean and gain skills – As part of the whole “explore career” option geekdom is also a giant place to learn.  From game mods to cosplay there’s always people, resources, and communities to help you grow.  You can build plenty of career-viable skillsets with the help with geeks.
  • Gain Knowledge – Geeks learn, and we’re often immersed in the minutiae of various industries from video games to comics to technology.  You learn a lot, often just by being there, and can use that in your careers.
  • Evidence – Geeks often make stuff.  That stuff is a great testimony to your skills in a job interview or talking to a client.  When you have a book, a website, a costume, a game mod it’s hard to say you’re unskilled.
  • Connect – Geekdom, with all its communities, lets us network and connect.
  • Resources – Geekdom, finally, gives us resources to call on, from code repositories to people who can help us move for the price of a pizza.

Geeks have a lot of advantages.  But there are geek career disadvantages, and they’re not what you may think.

The Geek Career Disadvantages

So what’s the downside of using your geekdom in your career?  The issues are often ones of perspective – which is a sneaky thing.

People may have a bad image of you – I accept that identifying as a geek doesn’t always go over well with people, and accept it – but I also live in a very geeky area.  You might not have that option and you need to be careful how you present your geekiness.  Sorry it’s not you, it’s them and it’s cultural – so build a bridge.

People may have too good an image of you – Not a problem?  Sometimes it is.  People can look at we geeks, with our drive and our projects and so on and assume we’re better than we are.  I’ve actually had this happen to me, and sometimes you have to explain what you don’t know to people.

People may not understand you – This happens to a lot of us anyway, but we’re so deep down our given areas of interest we don’t usually notice and some people just assume they won’t get us.  However, to be successful at work people do need to understand you and what you do – learnt o build bridges and communicate with them.

People may think they understand you – Doesn’t sound like a disadvantage?  It does when you meet people, well-meaning people, who think they get what you do as a hobby and a career because you’re “like this other person” – which you’re not and you have to do some explaining.  In fact they may be a fellow geek, but we all miss things . . .

You miss things – A sad side effect of our love of what we do is that we really do miss vital skills, knowledge, information, and understanding that’d help us in the career world.  We might not even know it as one job is very geeky but our next not so much.  No matter how much you leverage your loves in a career it’s still a career, so make sure you understand the skills and information you need to succeed.

A lot of the geek career disadvantages come from issues of communication and how people understand us.  Know what?  It’s the same for everyone.  We’re just more prominent all of a sudden, so there’s more misunderstandings, more need to communicate.  It’s up to us to do it right – we’re the ones looking for a job.

The Thing You Need

The first thing you need in navigating geek career advantages and disadvantages is a sense of humor about everything – including yourself.  Be able to laugh at your differences, laugh at the fun of sharing stuff, and lighten up.  By lightening up, you can rise above differences, misunderstanding, and even your ego (and that of others).

The second thing is communication.  We have to learn to listen to others and to communicate with them.  We’re people deep into our own work, we may not hear others, may not know how to reach them – or they may not know how to connect with us.

A good laugh and a good talk work wonders.

  • Steve



Relocating For Work: Learn To “Interview” Places To Live

At some point in your career you’re probably going to have to relocate.  If you’re lucky, it won’t be far, maybe the next town over.  I’m not sure how lucky you’re going to be – we geeks have careers that tend to the urban areas, the cities, the centers.  Chances are a lot of us don’t live where we should or will, and will have to get packing.

Now if you have to relocate, short or long, at some point you’re going to have to decide where to go.  I like to think of this as “Interviewing” a city or town to find out if it’s right for you.  It’s just like a job interview, only you’re seeing if the place you could end up at is worth moving to, and no one is going to ask for job experience no one has.

I reccomend taking this approach wether the move is far or close – because even if a move isn’t far from where you are, moving after a bad choice is still a lot of work.

So, let’s get to it. Continue reading

Steve’s Update 11/16/2015

I hope everyone is well after the terrible news last week in Paris, Beruit, and more.  I hope you and yours are well.

I’ve wanted to say something about these terrible attacks, but I’ve found they’ve been said best by my eloquent friend Serdar.  We cannot become what we hate.

With that, a few quick updates.  I’m going to keep it tight due to the tragedy.

  • Way With Worlds should be back from the pre-readers in two weeks.  I’ll be doing a deep-dive edit on it for concept and clarity – and dividing it into two books.  I’m honestly not sure if this’ll be done in December or in January.
  • We’ve written the first chapter of the Sailor Moon book – and it went through some revisions of focus as we did it.  Even though we analyzed each person after their interview, analyzing them together and exploring the major themes takes a lot of work.  The book may still surprise us – well, surprise us more.
  • My upcoming book on creativity – No title yet, and it’s taking longer, but it’s definitely worth it.  It’s going to be a way to identify your creative methods – then try others.
  • Next Generator – Is going to be reality TV shows, but as that one is taking longer as I’m trying some new analysis techniques (that also involve me writing up my findings), I may do an intermediate totally-for-fun crazy one.  You’ve been warned 😉

I hope you’re all well.  Let me know how you’re doing.

  • Steve

Link Roundup 11/13/2015

Returning to my link roundups of links relevant to career, life, and more.

Russian Metrojet flight 9268 does look like a victim of a bomb.  What makes me wonder is why no one took credit.  I am to say the least not trusting Russia or Putin, so wonder what the global impact of this is and who was trying to do what with this bombing – and that of course is if this IS a bomb and not just a misreading.

The University of Santa Barbara digitized 10,000 old wax cylinders.  A wonderful piece of historic preservation and civic geekery.

I’m skeptical of the ad-driven economy idea.  Now that the Economist employed anti-anti-adware service Pagefair, and found it was used to spread Malware, I’m more cynical.  On the other hand this probably creates a few new career possibilities in security, ads, analysis, and snarky news commentary.

The new EC policies on Hyperlinks could make you liable for what you link to.  Needless to say they’re awful and we need to keep an eye on this.

Oh and the “Snooper” policy in the UK is going to raise internet costs.


  • Steve


Activities For The Civic Geek: Technology Refurb And Access

Technology is critical to people’s lives these days.  Not everyone has access to computers and computer knowledge.  Technical geeks can make sure people have access to technology – and teach people along the way.

If you don’t have internet and computer access, you’re at a disadvantage in the modern world.  A lot of people have trouble getting computers.

Ironically, a lot of people are also throwing equipment away.

These are two causes that can come together – refurbishing computers and getting them to people that need them.  After all, why throw it away when you can fix it, update it, maybe teach a few lessons – and then get them to people who need them.

There’s a few ways to do this:

  • First, you have to collect equipment and get it to people that can fix it. Just the collecting alone can keep you busy – as long as there’s someone to fix it up.
  • Then there’s fixing up and refurbing the equipment.  Any kind of technical geek can probably rally people to do this – or find people that do.
  • Finally, get it to people who need it.  If you can combine this with the fixing, it becomes extra educational.

You can do one or all of these parts of the process to help people out.  But there’s also many ways to do this:

  • Your local club/group/con can do one or all of the parts above.
  • Your can ally with other groups like hackerspaces and schools to do the work.  It might build great alliances.
  • You could combine this with other events – what if you have a fix-it workshop at a convention?  With a hackerspace fix-it session?
  • You could combine this with other educational activities in computer literacy or fix-it skills?  People could make their own computer from old parts.

People need technology.  You can make sure they get it – while learning and make electronics recycling easier.


  • Close The Gap – Takes computer donations from european countries and refurbishes them for emerging nations. Also works to recycle unusable equipment safely.
  • Computers With Causes – Takes donated computers and either gets them to charitable programs, or sells them for funds used to go to programs.
  • Free Geek (Portland) – A Portland nonprofit that recycles used computers and parts to provide computers and job training to those in need.
  • Free Geek Chicago – A Chicago nonprofit that recycles used computers and parts to provide computers and job training to those in need.
  • Little Geeks – A Canadian charity that refurbishes donated computers, and gets them to children in need.
  • Motor City Free Geek – A Detroit nonprofit that repairs and recycles computers, teaches and educates, and works on Open Source.
  • PCS For Schools – Refurbishes and upgrades donated computer equipment and uses it to bridge the technology gap in schools
  • World Computer Exchange – A US and Canadian non-profit that reduces the digital divide with education, donated computers, and more.

Activities For The Civic Geek: Teach Writing Skills

Good writing is the key to many things in one’s life and career – and for many it can become their life and their career.  We geeks are literary types, so why not pass on the skills to others?

If you’re a geek, you’re probably a reader.  However, I’d give it a pretty good chance that you do at least some writing as a geek, and a very good chance that someone in your sphere of geeky friends is a writer of some kind, if semi-professionally.  In turn almost all of us depend on some writing skills in our lives and careers – or would have better lives and careers with writing skills.

A lot of us writing and trying to write.  A good way to be a civic geek?  Share that writing ability with people.

  • First, we can share it among ourselves, people teaching each other and editing.  Wether it’s publishing that RPG, writing that novel, or documenting that bit of history we can train or be trained in our own geeky communities.
  • We can also rally our writing-inclined fellows to teach in the larger community.  There’s doubtlessly local writing programs that, along with literacy programs, help improve people’s skills.  I’m sure any of them would welcome a larger group of participants.

There’s also many, many ways to help improve people’s writing skills.

  • Training.  Experienced people can teach writing in classes, panels, seminars, online feedback, as part of formal education, and more.
  • Critique.  Nothing like helping people get better at writing.  But why not formalize it, from having regular reviews among your club or group to having triage or portfolio reviews at conventions.
  • Writing jams.  Regular times to sit down, socialize, and write are great for writers.
  • Bringing in the pros.  Maybe your local group of writers isn’t as professional as some – but you doubtlessly know people who can help you and others improve with seminars, speaking, and volunteering.
  • Programs.  As noted there’s plenty of literacy and writing programs out there – just a few are below – so go support them!
  • Donations.  No time to teach, rally, or otherwise do hands-on-help?  Or maybe you just want to raise money for a good cause?  Try rallying donations for good causes for writers and writing skills.

Plenty of options.  Which are you going to try?



  • Alaska Literacy Program – An Alaska-based literacy charity with an emphasis on training and certifying teachers and tutors to impart reading, writing, and speaking skills.
  • Girls Write Now – Supports future female writers with mentoring, advice, and more.
  • Mighty Writers – A Philadelphia organization that supports writing and literacy by providing free classes and teaching.
  • NaNoWriMo – Everyone knows National Novel Writing Month, but they’re an organization that relies on organizers, donations, and more – and that’s your chance to get involved!
  • Wonder Writers – A charity that promotes writing and writing skills for young people from grades K-12.

Activities For The Civic Geek: Demonstrations And Presentations

Teaching is one thing, but sometimes the most educational thing is to see something in action – then learn how to do it!  That’s where demonstrations and presentations come in.

I’m all for we civic geeks giving panels and teaching, for doing hands-on work.  But sometimes the most educational – and fun – thing to do is to do demonstrations and presentations as part of an educational initiative.  Show something in action, then tell people how to do it – it’s fun, and in some cases a lot easier to get educated after you have an idea of how cool the thing you’re doing is.

A good presentation/demonstration works like this:

  1. You actually show off something in action – like say a costume or repair skills.
  2. You demonstrate how it works and how it’s done.
  3. You get people involved in figuring out how to do it.

It’s more complex than a class or a workshop because you and your compatriots actually have to show stuff off – and if what you’re trying to teach people is something complicated, extensive, or acrobatic you’ll need space, time, talent, and possible insurance.  A lot more preparation is involved.

The advantage of all of this is that it gets people’s attention, they learn quicker, and it’s fantastic publicity for your group, convention, and so on.  It draws people in and that means they get educated and you get to be a good civic geek.

Here’s a few ideas to get you going:

  • A cosplay group could not only demonstrate costumes, they could assemble one – then teach people useful and fun costuming and clothes skills.
  • A group of computer enthusiasts could quickly break down or assemble a computer then show people how to do it directly.
  • A writer’s group could demonstrate self-publishing and formatting – all you need is a good overhead and computer.
  • Even if the skills you or your group want to teach are abstract you can act them out.

Good demonstrations and presentations take being a training-oriented civic geek farther.  Give them a try.

  • Steve

Ready For The Next Economic Bump – And For Those Who Aren’t?

So no I don’t think we really “recovered” from the Great Recession.  Some of us did.  Some of us didn’t.  Some people’s lives are getting worse.

And though I don’t expect another dot-com bubble, there’s plenty to be concerned about.  I’m concerned about student debt, about income inequality, about whatever Putin is up to in Russia, about the climate.  Narrowing this down to economic issues, we’ve got enough going on that at some point we can expect another big bump in the economic road.

Another recession.  Another thing akin to the housing market collapse if not quite as bad – general slowdown, the student loan debt issue spiking early, more middle east trouble.  There’s enough problems we can expect something.

There’s two factors to consider here.

First, we all have to be ready, because I think the next bump, the next recession is a “when” not an “if.”  There’s too many threats to economic stability to ignore, let alone the fact that there’s always cycles of up and down.  Everyone should have a plan to:

  1. Save enough money to survive a downturn (I figure minimum going six months with no salary whatsoerver).
  2. Be able to relocate if needed with relative ease if needed – or work elsewhere for awhile.
  3. Have a few branching possibilities for their life and career.

It’s not survivalism (which I don’t support, survivalism has a way of being a self-fulfilling prophecy), it’s just having that plan in your pocket just in case.  You may never need it, but having one helps.

But the other factor?

Secondly, how many people won’t have a plan for the above or can’t.

That’s actually a bigger concern.  After the Great Recession wore people out, destroyed savings, disrupted lives, I’m concerned a lot of people simply can’t survive another recession, as previous experience has left them without the savings, with debt, and with low income – an issue that has been discussed for years.  Note discussed, not much has been done.

So when we hit the next economic bump, how many people won’t be able to make it?

That’s a real issue that’s hard to plan for.  If the American economy hits a bad streak, it could devastate a lot of the population.  That may mean the next economic downturn is going to have a lot more severe consequences by the fact so many people are living less stable lives.

And . . . it’s hard to plan for that.  It’s hard to get a grasp of how bad it is for people, how vulnerable they are – and what it means for any economic downturn.  Your survival plan, my survival plan, for a recession may not be as effective when so many people’s lives become much worse. Any recession could be worse than past data predicts because our socio-economic foundations are much weaker.

It’s also a reminder that part of your life plan, your career plan, of just being a good citizen is to be aware of these issues and vote on them.

I’d still make plans for the future, to be ready for that bump.  Just remember it may be a lot bumpier, so make wise choices . . .

  • Steve