Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Have you seen them driving around town, parked side by side and talking through open windows in parking-lots or just in the road when the traffic is slow? Have you heard the beat of bass before you heard the engines of their cars, and smelled burned oil and rubber long after they are gone? Have you wondered about the furry dice, the "wonderbaum" (little tree-shaped cardboard pieces smelling of air-freshener), noticed the stripes and flames painted on the cars and wondered why your old Volvo never looked like THAT? If that's the case, you have seen a "råner". Råne is the Norwegian word for male pig - not castrated. It's also a verb: å råne, which means to spend as much time as possible on outfitting your car with things like a huge stereosystem or extra-wide tires, and then drive around and show off. A råner is a person who does what the verb indicates - normally a young man from a industrial-, fishing or farm-background, most common or at least most visible in the countryside.

Some råne-links for those who read Norwegian:
Er du en råner?
Råning fra A-Å
Rånernes 10 bud

But, ladies and gentlemen: Råning is not restricted to cars!
This week-end I learned of a new phenomenon: styling your computer. This is the nerd version of råning.

First of all: don't buy a ready-made computer. You want to order every little piece of it seperately, and assemble it yourself. You do this by mail-order, because you live far away from the speciality stores you'd like to visit. This often leads to the pieces being outdated by the time the computer is assembled, and you need to order new and better ones. No, to a real råne-nerd this is not a problem, it's the most important aspect of the entire process.

Second: there's no standard cabinet which can fullfill your vision of tasteful design. To amend that a real råne-nerd orders a cabinet which can be polished down to the metal. Then you cut the sides out and replace them with plexi-glass (what's the use of your artfully assembled interior if nobody can see it?) before you put on three layers of coloured laquer and three layers of clear.

Third: Economical or efficient does not exist in your vocabulary. Read english instruction books on coding language before you have learned english, and then start programming as soon as possible - or perhaps earlier than that. However: if your program takes up too much space on your computer, that's not because you have programmed un-economically, but because you need a new processor/hard-disk/memory-chip.

Fourth: the aesthetic value of the computer and the programs on it, as well as the use you put it to, is a lot more important than function. The blinking lights do not have to actually indicate something, the icons on your opening screen do not have to lead to anything useful or important, and there's no reason to make the log-on process itself quick, easy or understandable for other people. After all: this is your personal expression, your project, the only place where you can be yourself.

I fear that the nerd chicks are as unimpressed with the råne-computers as they are with the råne-cars. Råne-nerds are no good when a standard computer breaks down, since a råne-nerd has nothing but contempt for people who don't build their own computers - just like a råne-car is the one you want to flag down - not for help, but if you need a ride to the closest car-shop. The person behind the wheel would be able to style your car beautifully and tell you which polish to use - but is not a problem solver unless you have a really esoteric problem.

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