I recently read a few articles on Digg that said what every ‘geek’ should know. While some of the lists had good ideas, most of the items on the lists are really specific to ‘computer geek’. I figured I would make my own list of what a techie should know.
I’m not saying that you need to know how to program, but at least learn a bit of HTML. It only takes a few hours to grasp the basics and it’s always a good resume booster.
The Basics of Hardware
When you say you’re a techie you better know a little about hardware. I don’t mean that you need to know about every single component thorougly, but you should be able to open up a computer and understand what is going on inside. If someone says their computer isn’t booting, you should be able to test each piece of hardware and deduce what is broken.
The Basics of Software
Like I said with hardware, you don’t need to know about every single piece of software, but have general knowledge about how it works. You should know what a boot loader is and how to install an Operating System. You should hopefully understand the differences between the major operating systems and be able to suggest what is best for a user based on their own knowledge.
I find this one very important. Technology moves so quickly nowadays, you need to stay up to date on the latest developments. I recommend getting a feed reader or use something like Google Reader and subscribe to some tech feeds. A few good sites to get started on are CNet, Slashdot, Digg, Techdirt, Engadget, Wired, TechCrunch, PCWorld, MacRumors, Technology Review, and Popular Science. I have about 50 feeds in my feed reader right now and they keep me up to date on the latest news.
Along with reading, you should really know some history behind technology. If you look at the past, you better appreciate what we have now and will give you a bigger picture of how technology has advanced over the years. While Wikipedia is always a good place to start, you can find a lot of books in your library or off Amazon.
Know Best Practices (Also Practice What You Preach)
A lot of people ask me for advice about what kind of anti-virus software they should get or what they should do to protect there data. You should know that backups of data is essential for everyone and storage space is so cheap these days, there isn’t much reason not to do it. You should also actually do the same things so you can talk about it from personal experience.
There is a lot more you can do, but I think these are the basics every techie should really know. If you are intrested in this stuff then you obviously like to expand your horizons and usually you like to get smart in a specific subject. For me, I understand a lot of hardware, but I’m more of a software person. I program with some languages and I read a lot of software-related books that interest me. It’s up to you to find your niche.