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Allright. As if Fundraisers weren’t scary enough, this Friday is Friday the 13th.

Occurring between one and three times each year, the day is superstitiously believed to bring bad luck.

Anyone want to take a shot at the clinical word denoting the fear of Friday the 13th?

Friggatriskaidekaphobia. While anyone who took some Highschool Latin can pull out the base words for fear and the number thirteen, Frigga may be unfamiliar to those not sporting Viking heritage. Frigga is the Norse goddess for which Friday is named. Pretty Friggan cool, huh? Oh yeah, I’m going to abuse this every chance I get, starting with June’s Friggan Geek Gathering. Yeah – probably best just to walk away before that gets out of hand…

Although the number 13 has had a negative connotation since Biblical times and the sixth day of the week has been considered a bad day on which to travel or to start new projects since the 14th century, the combination of the two can’t be found until the 19th century. As far as superstitions go, this one is a bit of a noobie.

While I can neither confirm nor deny this particular superstition surrounding Friday the 13th, I can try to dispell one or two more current ones.

The first? Never turn your monitor on before your workstation. I’m not sure if there was ever a time when this was true, though in the early days of Linux, it was certainly possible to damage a monitor by using an incorrect refresh rate. In the day of Energy Star compliance, monitors tend to go to sleep rather than implode, if they receive power without a video signal.

I also know a number of people who are afraid to turn off their computers, especially if they seem to be working OK. While it probably doesn’t hurt anything to leave them up and running, that isn’t exactly green behavior. Unless we’re talking servers or network gear, nightly power cycles are generally a good thing, not an invitation for something bad to happen.

In Linux circles, this is even more of a superstition, as losing uptime is considered a very Bad Thing. For instance, a server with an uptime of 400 days is inherently better than a server with an uptime of 4 days, even though the fresher server probably has a newer kernel and more current hardware. I did some checking into this myth and found out that this one is *completely* *true*.

Some geek superstitions are actually borrowed from professional athletes and gamers…

If you’re into online sports games and are having a good season in competitive play, you may have a pair of lucky socks that go unwashed for far too long. I did some light checking, and while this behaviour may not bolster your team’s standing, it will do *wonders* for your chances of catching athletes foot.

Oddly, the notion of a lucky pair of boxers hasn’t really taken hold in the Geek world. I wonder why that is…?

Blowing on dice happens not only at the craps tables of Las Vegas, but at the gaming tables of tens of thousands of paper based gamers across the US. While the moisture from one’s breath may have made early dice more likely to stick on the side closest the blower, any actual effects are mostly mythical today. There’s no harm in continuing with this one, provided you’re equipped with the appropriate breath care products.

Another one? Crossing the streams is usually considered to be bad. Outside of the realm of Proton Packs, Neutrona Wands and Particle accelerators, this is a myth. From a Geek’s perspective, the Transmission Control Protocol takes care of streams of packets getting crossed
while traversing the Internet. The only real danger is getting KPFT’s audio stream crossed with that of FOX News. Supposedly, life as we know it would stop instantaneously and every molecule in our bodies would explode at the speed of light. Actually, that sounds kinda fun on a slow Saturday night.

Anyone else have any other geek or tech superstitions?

I’d mention the superstitions about partaking in sex, drugs and rock’n’roll while spending your summer as a camp counselor at Crystal Lake, but I don’t think that any of us are in any real danger there. You probably caught that that was a reference to original Friday the 13th movie, which was actually pretty scary the first time I saw it. Of course, I was seven, so your mileage may vary.

If you *were* a kid in the early 80s, it’s entirely possible that you saw a movie starring Richard Benjamin and Jeffrey Tambor named Saturday the 14th. The premise of this 1981 work is that Friday the 13th is for noobs; the true danger doesn’t arrive until the following day, Saturday the 14th, when it’s possible to open an ancient tome that will spill forth an odd assortment of creatures, as evidenced by the the first of two monthly meetings of the Houston Linux Users Group. While power users of the Linux Operating System may seem scary to some, they’re actually completely safe to be around, provided you follow some basic rules.

Dress down. Suits and other trappings of the corporate world tend to spook Linux geeks. It’s best to go with a t-shirt, shorts and some sandals (socks are a bonus) when moving amongst large herds of linux types to avoid causing a stampede.

Linux users are primarily dossile creatures, but, just as bulls are enraged by the color red, Linux users charge and trample anything between them and a blue screen of death in an attempt to both mock it and document it with their camera phone so that the pics may be pored over during those lean periods when Microsoft happens to deploy a solid OS. This is especially true in public spaces where web kiosks, smart vending machines and public terminals may be close by.

And lastly, once you’ve become fairly comfortable moving among the monolithic kernel’d masses, be wary that you don’t become *too* comfortable. Linux users will often turn on their own when it comes to disagreements over text editors, window managers and file system choices, so it’s best to maintain an air of ambiguity if your preferences are ever called into question. “I run them all” usually works for me.

The Houston Linux Users Group gets together at two in the afternoon every second and fourth Saturday of the month at the HAL-PC Headquarters located at 4543 Post Oak Place Drive for a two hour talk that will drop some new knowledge on your superstitious self, but for now, that’s it for your Friday the 13th 411 and that’s that for BarretTime.

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