A Shortcut To Becoming a Computer Guru

In my book, a computer nerd is someone who uses vi not MS Office, Python not MATLAB, and can be seen mostly using a cmd prompt typing syntax which would give most people a brain hemorrhage. Most people, however don't seem to have such exalted standards for 'a computer expert'. I am not much of a 'computer expert', but definitely a lazy computer user. If my hands are on the keyboard, I like them to stay there. If they are using the mouse, I like them to stay there. So, to save precious calories I try to learn as many shortcuts as I can. My academic sounding excuse is that Knowing keyboard shortcuts is more ergonomic . With mouse gestures browsing has never been so much fun.

I have realised that knowing shortcuts has another added benefit - people think 'you really know computers!'. I have seen quite a few people completely amazed to see how I moved stuff around on the screen. The next level after the Shortcuts 101: CTRL + S,A,X,Y,Z,C and V is making stuff bold (CTRL+B), Italicizing (CTRL+I), Justifying, left, right and center (CTRL + J, L, R or E) and renaming files(F2), etc. These might impress some people but not all.

If you really wish to be revered as a computer guru then the next step is knowing the Windows (or system) shortcuts. Your average user's estimation of your expertise will take a quantum leap if he(*) sees you can minimize the desktop windows ( Windows + M), or access the desktop (Win + D), cycle through active windows (ALT+Tab) or close apps ( Alt+F4) in less than an eyeblink. If they have not reconciled to the fact they will, once they see you open the Run window to start Firefox ( Win + R, firefox). If you wish to add to your mystery use mouse gestures. They are so subtle and wonderful that most don't catch on and think are a magician.

I have a labmate who really knows computers inside-out. He is a master of networking, XML, Java, C+, hardware setup, 'you-name-it'. The kind of guy who chews 200 lines of code for breakfast. A few days ago, we were working on a grant and we had this complicated equation to add. He was trying to add a subscript to a term and was fumbling for the button in Word. Then I chipped in with the shortcut (CTRL + '=') and he raised his eyebrows, "Goddamn Hirak, you really know THAT shortcut!". In two keystrokes I was instantly elevated to 'someone who knows computers' by someone who really knew them. How easy it has always been to be instantly raised (CTRL+SHIFT+'+')to computer guru level! If only all things in life had such easy shortcuts.

* Such knowledge somehow does not impress chicks at all. They seem to have more practical and realistic expectations. Unless you want to drastically reduce your chances for this Saturday night do not reveal or revel in knowing shortcuts in front of the fairer sex.


Siddharth Rege said...


Thanks for the warning in the end. While reading the blog, I was almost tempted to make notes to mug up and later use to impress the wife. As most married people will agree, impressing the wife gets exponentially more difficult with the passage of time, but I felt here was my chance. Nonetheless, I shall now desist from such a venture.

Hirak said...

But if your wife is an electrical engineer then it might work the other way.

Ashutosh said...

I still have to learn many of the great shortcuts for my Mac. As for the girls, I have experienced that they are only impressed with you when you give them information on a need-to-know basis!

Schrodinger said...

The fairer sex can stand to be impressed by computer finesse. Only condition being that you have to portray that you are a tech guru and can help her or anyone with any tech problem ever, and portray it within 45 seconds without using a single term she doesnt understand and not harp about it ever again!

pyro said...

Well, if you want to be both a computer guru AND impress (techy) chix, use OS X - you will get to use a real operating system, and they'll LOVE all the cute eye-candy and GFX.

(Oh and by the way, I don't see how you can compare Matlab and Python. Even with numerical python, developing signal processing algorithms in Python is a pain in the ass. And reversely, anything high level or symbolic cannot be done with Matlab. Both are specialists' tools used by equally qualified people working in distinct fields)

kunal thakar said...

A real computer expert uses Linux along with Emacs (or vi), perl, python and shell scripts :). If only the fairer sex were impressed by the ubercool geeks!

Hirak said...

Among other things!!

Perhaps I have use MATLAB so much that I don't think it is that hard. Python looked too complex when a 'geek' showed it to me.
I hope you know that your geekiness implies your chances for Saturday night have been drastically reduced.

Vinayak: I have data to confirm your results!

Uv said...

Man.. i was hoping some tips on vi...aahh u too got sucked into the bloody, commercial, monopoly bearing, tight ass, $#^%^%$$%^ WINDOWS :(

Uv said...

potato - potaato - usless - MS... whatever ;)

Santosh said...

Hirak Parekh?

I agree OS X is the way to go :)... elitist and impressive.

Just thought I should mention it's C++.