How to get hardcore geek jokes (without a CS degree)

NICK DOUGLAS — "Make me a sandwich." "No." "Sudo make me a sandwich." "Okay." Ahahahahahaha I don't get it. At least I didn't until I checked Wikipedia, which explained that "sudo" is a command that tells a computer you're a super-user. A command prefaced with "sudo" is a command to be obeyed. "Isn't a computer supposed to do what you tell it anyway?" you ask, because you are stupid. Rule #1: Don't question the logic. If you were good at doing that, you'd already be a computer geek, and clearly you aren't. To hide among the geeks as I have, scan this cheatsheet for "getting" their jokes.

Perl is for idiots: Programming language stereotypes
Coders argue about languages like gearheads argue about car brands. Think of Perl and C++ like Ford and Chevy. Some characterizations gleaned from the Joel on Software forum and the helpful, exhaustive list, Shooting yourself in the foot in various programming languages:

  • C++: "A good way to turn a 1-month project into a 12-month project;" "masochist language."
  • Lisp: Ugly, old, and full of parentheses.
  • Ruby on Rails: For webheads who think it's God's gift to programming. (See this RoR joke.)
  • Visual Basic: Cute to play with if you're not a programmer
  • Java: Clogs up a computer's memory (remember those old Yahoo Java games that would break your browser?)

Unix is funny, and not just for ball jokes
Almost 90% of the world runs Windows, but the geeks who run the world often wrangle with hardier operating systems. Here's a breakdown:

  • Windows: Windows jokes center around the OS's bloated size, proprietary nature, and unfixable errors.
  • OS X: Apple's latest OS doesn't elicit many jokes, now that the Mac is no longer a toy.
  • Unix: The preferred OS for running servers and shared workstations. Jokes center around puns using Unix commands and clueless users.
  • Linux: The open-source OS used in all sorts of devices, with variants that do a decent job running a PC. Linux can arguably do everything (except games, movies, and anything "fun"), so Linux jokes are about how much Windows blows.

Confederacy of dunces: The human characters

  • The programmer: As Valleywag's Paul Boutin explained, geek humor follows logic because that's how the geek mind (or a computer, and isn't that the same?) works. The most-spotted species of logical geek is the programmer. Thus logic-based jokes like: "How do you trap a programmer in the shower? Give him shampoo that says 'lather, rinse, repeat.'"
  • The project manager: Doesn't do anything but earns more than the programmers. Not necessarily dumb, but not helpful. Best joke: the monkey joke.
  • The sysadmin: The guy who runs UNIX. Picture Comic Book Guy reigning over his domain, and check out these variants.
  • The Microsoft, Intel, and Sun programmers: See here.

Nick Douglas writes for Valleywag, Blogebrity, and Look Shiny. The only language he writes is English.