Nerds Herd: Five Things You Should Be Glad Geeks Handle for You

Tech junkies can be really annoying. They are often condescending and consistently frustrated, and they sometimes even smell a little funky. I certainly don't condone condescension, and admittedly, stinky people are no fun, but there are plenty of times geeks have every right to be frustrated with you. You heard me.

The fact is, the personal computer is a relatively recent invention. People didn't have computers on every desk in the workplace until probably the late 1980s. There wasn't a PC in most homes until the mid 1990s. Less than 20 years ago, no non-nerd had heard of e-mail and the Internet was just a glimmer in Al Gore's eye. The point is, despite your everyday use of computers, you are likely still a novice and while IT guys might seem annoying, they do a bunch of stuff you should be glad you never even have to think about.

5. File Formats

Those three letters at the very end of a file name (note.DOC, for example) represent the format of a given file. You may or may not know that those things change. Sometimes it is because the company changes its naming conventions -- .doc became .docx. Often, however, it's not the extension that changes but the format. In the early days of the Internet, everyone used the .gif as the standard graphic. As more photos began to be used, there was a need for a better, more graphically rich format. In stepped .jpg. Now we have .png, but Google has introduced webP. That is just for image files on the Internet. Tech people have to keep track of all these things and help you adjust to changes you don't even realize you are making.

4. Code Standards

If you think that sounds complicated, imagine if every few years the words you used on a daily basis had to be radically altered for you to communicate. That's what happens when code standards change. The basic construct is the same. Just as you would still be speaking English, programmers tend to stay in the same programming languages, but the syntax can change, sometimes with little warning. Why should you care? Well, just as language holds together the fabric of society, programming code holds together the fabric of technology. Without it, you wouldn't be able to read this. Consider yourself lucky you aren't constantly in English class.

3. Technical Specifications

Inventors are constantly coming up with new and better technology. This is great for all of us. The advancements improve our daily lives in a myriad of ways from our communication to our very health and well-being -- hospitals rely on some pretty serious tech. But whenever there's a big change in the world of technology, everyone has to adjust. Remember when television went to digital and people with rabbit ears had to get converters for their old TVs? That kind of thing happens almost every day in the world of technology and engineers have to keep up.

2. Hackers

There are few annoyances greater or more dangerous than hackers. They can inflict a tremendous amount of damage on a wide range of technology. There are multibillion-dollar companies built on the security needs of consumers, businesses and the government. Engineers work nearly nonstop to police the world for the latest threat. It is a never-ending task, and few realize it exists until they are affected.

1. Spam

The only reason spam exists is because it works. People wouldn't still be sending out e-mails claiming to be princes from Nigeria if other people didn't still fall for it. But spam clogs up the "series of tubes" that connect the entire Internet. It slows down connection speeds and creates a whole host of issues, never mind what it can do to your bank account or credit score. Just as programmers spend countless hours defending technology from hackers, so too do they find new ways to beat spam before it reaches your inbox. If they didn't, instead of a few spam e-mails a day, you'd receive hundreds, maybe thousands.

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