About the Manual

The Nerd Manual is meant to be both a useful resource for nerds and a guide for the people involved with nerds. If you're a nerd you can find information here that will help you improve your life and perhaps better understand yourself. If you're close friends with, dating, or married to a nerd, I want to give you insight into things nerds do that a lot of people have difficulty understanding.

I hope to avoid offending anyone--either nerd or non-nerd--but please understand that the manual will get into some sensitive topics, stray into contentious territories, and even use stereotypes to illustrate points. It's OK to disagree with something, but keep your comments civil.


Superpowering Girls!

The BBC's New Doctor Makes Girls Believe they Can Be Anything
The Women's Media Center and BBC America had a question: what are the roles for women and girls in science fiction and superhero films and television? Actually, they had several questions about the visibility, inclusiveness, and representational presence--or absence--of women in the superhero genre, and what that means to the imaginations of viewers and readers.

The answers come in a series of reports that seek to expand the diversity and representation of women and girls in front of and behind the camera. The first report “SuperPowering Girls: Female Representation in the Sci-Fi/Superhero Genre” considers how the depictions of women on screen impact girls between the ages of 5 and 19.


Well, here's the obvious one: kids want to see heroes who look like them. 

But there was also a desire to see more female heroes across every demographic, even among boys.

The study found that heroic representation can impact kids' confidence and self-image, as well as influence their career choices.

Another finding: teen girls are significantly less likely than teen boys to describe themselves as confident, brave, and heard, and this is even more significant among girls of color. 

Julie Burton, president of the Women's Media Center said, “at this time of enormous, sweeping, social change, it’s important that television and film provide an abundance of roles and role models for diverse girls and young women." The research shows "that female sci-fi and superhero characters help bridge the confidence gap for girls, making them feel strong, brave, confident, inspired, positive, and motivated.”

BBC America president Sarah Barnett agrees. "If you can’t see her, you can’t be her. It’s time to expand what gets seen, and we hope this report will contribute to sparking change in the stories we see on screen.”

Fortunately one of our favorite time traveling heroes is ahead of the game and recently regenerated as a female, and 81% of the girls surveyed said that seeing a female Doctor on Doctor Who makes them feel like they can become anything they want.

You can download your own copy of the report from the WMC Reports site.


Story Time...from Space!

Astronaut Kate Rubins Reads Rosie Revere Engineer
Have you ever wanted an astronaut to read your kids a bedtime story...from orbit?

Well, you can make that happen for your children, or perhaps yourself, with the Story Time from Space project.

Part of the Global Space Education Foundation, Story Time From Space sends children’s books to the International Space Station where astronauts make videos of themselves reading to the children of Earth. The videos are archived on the Story Time From Space website in their Video Library. The astronauts also conduct educational demonstrations to go along with the books.

The books cover a range of space and science related topics, feature a diverse range of characters, and are read by different astronauts on the ISS. There's nothing quite like watching astronaut Kate Rubins floating in front of all the ISS equipment, the hum of the station's machines filling the background, as she opens a copy of Rosie Revere, Engineer. As she reads Rosie's story, you can hear the Russian's talking to Earth on the com system...not something you're likely to hear in your house.

At the moment, there are only thirteen books in the Story Time from Space project library, which is understandable, considering that the only way to get books up there is via rocket, but hopefully the project can add more with each launch.


Library Ninja

Ninja Among the Books - Ben Dalton

There was a time when ninja were the badasses of popular culture, then the market reached saturation, things took a turn, and the only people who were interested in ninja anymore were people actually practicing ninjutsu...and nerds.

Maybe ninja are cool again--there was that whole ninja pirate thing, and the Ninja Turtles seem to be hanging on--but I believe they still have some nerd cred.


Nerdism: MOTD

ASCII Talking Cow
In nerd circles, MOTD is an initialism for Message Of The Day (although it might mean Match of the Day in sports talk, so consider the context carefully).

MOTD dates back to the earliest days of computer connections when system administrators wanted to make sure all users got a message, but didn’t want to send the message to each person individually. The solution was to set up an automatically executed file that displayed a message when a user logged into the system.

A Pony by Mattbas

Usually the MOTD didn’t change much, and included things like rules for using the system and basic instructions such as what to type to get help documentation, although the MOTD might also spit out information about the user’s last login, the system uptime, or even the weather. Admins sometimes got creative with their messages, offering pearls of wisdom in the form of fortune cookies or the ubiquitous talking cow. Some MOTDs even included complex ASCII art depicting anything from dragons to flowers to portraits of musicians, or even ponies of the friendly magical variety.

In the early days you could find MOTDs on UNIX systems and dial-up BBSs--both of which are difficult, but not impossible to access as of 2018--but MOTDs can still be easily found on multiplayer games such as Call of Duty or Battlefield, and of course you can see the MOTD at the beginning of all the Nerd Manual podcasts.


Real-Life Nerds: NerdBurger Games

I lost a friend at the Southern Fried Gaming Expo (not tragically, I just misplaced him), and while I was walking around looking for him I passed this vendor's table with a few books on display. I'm telling myself, "it's just RPGs, you have enough of those already and you need to keep walking," but the title Murders and Acquisitions grabs me by the collar and turns me toward the table.

While I was a little surprised at being manhandled by an RPG manual, I'm glad it happened, because the guy at the table, Craig Campbell, was really cool and also happened to be the game designer for NerdBurger Games. I talked with Craig for far to brief a time, because I had to go find my aforementioned friend, but I picked up his business card (more on that later) so I could look him up online when I got home.

If you've never heard of NerdBurger before, you need to go visit the site. Like, now. Just stop reading this and go spend some time over there. You'll find descriptions of Craig's games, you can purchase Murders and Acquisitions as well as NerdBurger's newest title Capers--an RPG set in the roaring twenties featuring super-powered gangsters, and listen to the NerdBurger podcast, which will give you an idea of why I'm so glad I stopped and talked to Craig.

This guy is a gaming genius.

Remember that business card I mentioned? He's got the entire RPG manual for Lucky Dino-Robo-Pirates on the card. How does he do it? You'll have to get a business card from him to find out.

It's worth it. Check out NerdBurger and have some fun.