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Essential skills for computer nerds

Posted by DarkLordCthulhu, 11 September 2015 · 27401 views

This is something I did just for fun in my inordinate free time. I compiled a list of essential skills that are valuable for computer geeks and that every computer geek should at least try to learn how to do. This is meant as a "just for fun" thing where you can add up how many skills you know to see how good you are, as well as a helpful list of skills you can improve yourself by learning if you ever feel like you don't know where to go next. These skills range from really obvious "Computers for Dummies" type material to next-to-impossible feats that only a total wizard would be able to pull off.

Disclaimer: Some of the things on this list may be illegal depending on the jurisdiction and circumstances. I am not responsible for any criminal activities you decide to partake in as a result of reading this list.

Okay, now that that's out of the way, here's my list of 212 essential skills for computer nerds:

Turn a computer on
Log in
Use Windows
Use Mac OS X
Use Linux
Use a smartphone or tablet computer
Use a word processor
Pirate TV shows or music from YouTube
Pirate software through BitTorrent
Subscribe to and manage RSS feeds
Take a screenshot
Record your desktop
Use the DOS prompt
Use the Windows Powershell
Use the Unix CLI
Test network connectivity with ping
Build a computer
Upgrade hardware components
Install an operating system
Install a device driver
Boot up from a live CD
Access and edit the BIOS settings
Write C/C++ programs
Compile C/C++ programs
Create a web page in HTML
Format a web page with CSS
Script a web page with Javascript
Script a website with PHP
Manage a LAMP server
Manage a SQL database
Interface between a SQL database and PHP
Write formatted documents in troff
Write formatted documents in TeX
Write formatted documents in Postscript
Code in a functional language
Code in an assembly language
Program a floating-point unit
Write a BNF specification for a programming language
Change the DNS server from the default
Manually configure an IP address
Solder electronics components
Use a multimeter
Build software from source using a makefile
Write your own makefile
Use a text-based package manager
Free up memory by killing processes
Edit a routing table
Crack trial software so you can use it forever
Use a virtualization platform
Jailbreak an iPhone or iPad
Jailbreak an iPhone or iPad without downloading a jailbreaking app
Reverse-engineer binaries
Effectively use a packet sniffing program
Connect a home computer to the Internet
Set up a home network
Wire an RJ-45 connector
Trace a trojan back to its source
Write a trojan
Read other people's email
Validate a web page for HTML and CSS
Do basic image editing
Create a transparent or semitransparent image
Create a Flash animation
Create an HTML 5 animation
Use a 3D modeling program
Use a 3D printer
Create and/or extract a tarball
Create and/or extract a RAR file
Utilize loadable kernel modules
Utilize shared libraries
Program in the POSIX API
Program in the Windows API
Mount a remote filesystem through NFS
Use a breadboard
Build Arduino projects
Write an adventure program
Write a database system
Write an accounting package
Write a GUI program
Set up a firewall
Set up a managed switch
Set up a CISCO router
Use a vintage computer (pre-1995)
Repair a vintage computer
Program in BASIC
Set up a honeypot to mess with script kiddies
Create and delete user accounts
Use a proxy server to hide your IP address
Use the TOR browser
Recover deleted files
Securely erase files so they can not be recovered
Recover data from a damaged disk
Write a browser extension
Use Vim or Emacs
Create your own colorschemes for Vim or Emacs
Use ed
Program in Fortran
Program in Lisp
Renew an IP address from a DHCP server
Access gopherspace
Run a gopher site
Run a BBS
Use Usenet
Effectively edit the Windows Registry
Read a crash report
Write a sorting algorithm
Implement a linked list
Implement a binary search tree
Write a compiler
Use regular expressions
Implement a regular expression parser
Use Processing
Clear the cache
Delete cookies from your browser
Browse the Internet in incognito mode
Prevent buffer overflow vulnerabilities
Exploit a buffer overflow vulernability
Encrypt a file
Crack an encryption scheme
Copy a copy-protected disk
Boot into safe mode
Use a revision control system
Use a debugger
Write an XML parser
Write self-modifying code
Write a self-reproducing program
Use a disk backup utility
Secure a private WiFi network
Crack a private WiFi network
Connect a TV to a DVD player
Program a universal remote
Hide files on your computer
Effectively edit a video
Back up data to network storage
Use a cloud service
Play a MUD
Use the IRC
Join a multicast group
Launch a denial-of-service attack
Implement a graph traversal algorithm
Find very large prime numbers
Calculate pi or e to a thousand digits
Log into an anonymous FTP server
Set up your own FTP server
Write a batch file in DOS
Write a shell script in Unix
Patch together different scripting languages
Use sed and awk
Partition a drive
Format a drive partition
Wipe a hard drive
Defragment a hard drive
Clone a disk with Clonezilla or similar
Clone a disk with dd
Turn filesystem journaling on and off
Securely erase the free space on a hard drive (without effecting the filesystem)
Securely erase data on a solid state drive
Burn an ISO file
Create an ISO file from a disk
Create an ISO file from a directory
Create and extract a floppy image
Set up a swap space
Do a remote login with Telnet
Do a remote login with SSH
Run fsck in Unix/Linux
Overclock a CPU
Implement error detection and correction
Implement a compression algorithm
Write a command shell
Write a text processor
Write a device driver
Write an operating system
Write an expert system
Read and understand other people's code
Utilize Ajax
Use a content management system
Use a sound editing program
Make an SVG image
Use NMap or Nagios Core
Synchronize backups
Build a custom Linux distro
Use a text-based email client
Use the Windows Recovery Console or Windows RE
Set up a RAID system
Reinstall an OS from the recovery partition
Use a directory service
Implement a directory service
Make an animated GIF
Use fork-exec to spawn a program
Write a daemon
Write a cryptanalysis program
Spoof a MAC address
Test a TCP/UDP port with Telnet
Emulate Finger with Telnet
Forge mail with telnet
Program in the X Window system
Write a CLIST
Utilize the OpenSSL API
Utilize UML
Use a logic probe
Read and understand a datasheet
Simulate a finite automaton
Simulate a pushdown automaton
Simulate a Turing machine
Use a multithreading library to implement concurrency
Write a real-time program
Write a Sendmail configuration file
Trace someone's IP address from a forum post
Set up a Kerberos authentication system

0x00-0x04: Computer-illiterate
0x05-0x09: User
0x10-0x1f: Knowledgeable user
0x20-0x2f: Geek
0x30-0x4f: Nerd
0x50-0x6f: Hacker
0x70-0x8f: Wizard
0x90+: Technological badass

Tell me what you got. :D

  • 0

I got 157 of them... so 9d

Some of them, I had to look it up on google


I hope everybody had Connect a TV to a DVD player :P


And I would hope people would work on thoses 3:

Use the DOS prompt
Use the Windows Powershell
Use the Unix CLI

Using the command line is faster and better... plus you look like a true hacker using it :D

    • 2

Aw, I only got 80 (0x50).  You scored higher on my computer skills test than I did.  Some of these are things I used to know how to do but forgot because I didn't do them for so long.


Connecting a TV to a DVD player should be easy, but if the person having you do it gives you the wrong A/V cable, it can be a pain.  That actually happened to me, and it took me a few minutes to realize that it just wasn't going to work (the cable set she gave me was S-video with one audio cable, but the TV took YPbPr with two audio connectors).  I ended up scrapping the RCA cables and using the HDMI cable from my Raspberry Pi kit to connect them.

    • 0

oh, a lots of them I know how, but I'm gonna need to refresh my memory...

If one day the internet is down, I'll become the worst programmer ever!

    • 0

Amusing game - I was surprised at my score 6c/108 -  Expected to fall in the Geek or Nerd range, so impressed with my knowlege.


Like Vaielab, some acronyms had to be checked on Google - funny how you know how to do stuff, but never learn what they are called.


Actually, that is my MO (modus operandi) -  I can find my way and direct people to many places in my local area, but can I remember the actual street names ...

    • 1

I should have included "Emulate the F1-F12, Page Up, Page Down, Home, and End keys on a Macbook."  I've found this skill to be really useful when running some MS-DOS programs in DOSBox, especially WordPerfect.  Though I suppose the ability to use WordPerfect and other vintage software instead of modern alternatives is more fun than practical.

    • 0
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