When nerds collide

The MagPi’s Lucy Hattersley tells us how a chance encounter with a group of nerds down the pub led to a chat of monolithic proportions.

I was chatting  in the pub – remember those? – the other day to a friend who has started work in a new coding job. Like many people I know, they picked up programming and, after a few courses, quickly found work in the area.

freaks and geeks
What’s the collective noun for a group of nerds?

Coding certainly beats digging a ditch. I can’t recommend highly enough learning to code or going on a boot camp.

The aforementioned friend started with a smattering of Python and, after some teaching work, now works for a prestigious, but somewhat contentious, institute that I shall not name here. They do incredible data science and will probably cure cancer. 

Fortunately, in this instance, they did not have to fend off too many questions. I doubt if they have the ‘Mulder and Scully’ level of clearance just yet.

Possibly TV’s sexiest nerds? God love ’em

Another coding friend develops regression tests for a food delivery firm and has to explain constantly that: “no they don’t deliver food; no they don’t ride a bicycle; and no they can’t personally help with that order that went wrong,” and so on. We all have our crosses to bear.

Dry January being over, I’d had a few wines and therefore explained animatedly just how much I hate the R programming language with its first-indexed arrays. I get that this rant isn’t quite normal, but starting arrays at one instead of zero. “Really, R, really!?”

They responded with “Java? So wordy.” An ironically succinct answer. We agreed on Python. But then, doesn’t everybody?

When two nerds chat, the world around them glazes over or rolls its eyes. And all our friends certainly did plenty of both. But, it’s so rare I get to talk to people in the pub that know what a zero‑indexed array is. Or a NAND gate. Or regression testing. So I went full Sheryl Sandberg and ‘leaned in’ to the chat. It stopped me from falling over at any rate.

Raspberry Pi delight

Like many a geek, they were delighted by Raspberry Pi, and my friend explained how one had been used to time-lapse the office construction. Time‑lapse is one of my favourite projects because it shows a lot of what you can do with Raspberry Pi and the Camera Module. Raspberry Pi is small, reliable, and easy to set up and leave in the situation for a few days, weeks, or even months. Attach a battery and you can leave it going all day, snapping one shot after another.

raspberry pi 4 pink background reflection

For bonus points, my friend had used machine learning to select the daytime from night-time images and ditching the dull night shots.

Maybe that’s why I spend time evangelising about learning to code, and why Raspberry Pi is the best way to go about it. I just want more people to chat to down the pub. 

Let’s hope 2022 is a more sociable year.

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First-indexed arrays… Have you looked at for-loops and lapply?

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Is there any raspberry pi product that is useful for Minecraft?

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Alex Bate

We see people running their own Minecraft servers on all manner of Raspberry Pis.

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