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BlueWolf's Howl

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July 17, 2002

Surrounded by Genius

There is a stereotype that exists in the minds of many. That stereotype portrays people of genius-level intelligence as socially inept and somewhat strange. Those gifted with creative genius are further burdened with the additional stereotype of depressing emotional drama bordering on mental illness. These myths have been created to help the majority of people feel better about their own “average” intelligence. After all, they may not be as smart, but they at least have common sense. Or so the story goes…

What has happened with this persistent myth is that it has somehow been turned on its head. The more current myth says that if someone is socially inept or somewhat strange, they must be a genius. If someone suffers constantly from depressing emotional drama (especially if bordering on or as a result of mental illness), well, then they must be a creative genius. And if we cannot see this, it must be from our own shortcomings.

Sit down for this one. These myths are not true.

Go to a Mensa open house party. In the US, I believe each local group has an open house party every month. Anyone can go if they have an interest in joining. (The invite is based on interest, not ability to actually meet the requirements.) Ignore the wannabes. Talk to the actual members (they have provided proof of being in the top 2%). You will notice that the members come from all walks of life, all social and economic backgrounds, and have a wide range of individual social skills. Yes, you will meet someone who fits the “socially inept” label – the members will probably be avoiding him/her too. You will also meet someone who is successful and socially well adjusted. You will also meet someone who is smart and has not achieved any sort of financial success. You will meet many different kinds of people. It will destroy the myth. Look at Geena Davis. She’s a Mensa member. And there are many others.

The place where I work has a “sister” workplace in an extremely remote area. There are a few workers at my present site that have spent a bit too long in that remote area and have developed some rather odd habits and idiosyncrasies. This does not make Mike a genius. He may be an expert at Excel spreadsheets and Access databases (because he works with them daily), but that doesn’t make him a genius either. And his paranoia does not give him the ability to understand NTFS (NT File System) and share permissions on a computer connected to a network. He believes he’s a genius and those moron LAN people are letting just anyone connect to his friend’s computer. [He looked at the hard drive properties and saw the Administrative C$ share.] Since he’s so much smarter, he’ll just fix that. And “fix” it he did…

He sheepishly showed up at the LAN office door trying to explain what happened before rebooting – knowing that he shouldn’t have done what he did and concerned that the computer might not reboot. He was merely trying to help his friend fix a Personal Folders problem.

I went to look at the computer to see if I could figure out what he actually did (versus what he said he did) to the computer. I demonstrated a “real” network share (you’ll see the little hand under the drive or folder icon) and explained administrative shares (hidden – hence, the $ symbol), which could only be accessed by the LAN Administrators and various server services. I also explained how this did not enable Joe User to access his friend’s hard drive from across the network, but would enable Joe User to log on locally to any computer on the LAN – a mission requirement. [It’s not really yourcomputer. It belongs to the company.]

Since he changed the permissions, changing them back would only complicate matters. There are too many folders with too many permission entries to know what goes where. Some of them are necessary for the system to function properly. No, no one I know has them all memorized. This is going to require a reinstall of the operating system. Gee, I guess I wasn’t busy enough – I must have needed something to do instead of the 4 other top priorities I was trying to work on while he was tinkering with the permissions.

I put a new image on the computer and helped the original user with his Personal Folders. I also had to use the Inbox repair tool on his 3 large *.pst files to correct a problem he was trying to work around. He finally gets settled with his computer issues (a few hours later) and I go outside for a smoke break. About midway through the cigarette, another smoker comes out for a break. It’s that strange guy from the 3rd floor. He’s another computer genius because he bought Windows XP and tinkers with his computer at home – and can’t even figure out how to set up an email profile. I put my cigarette out and quickly went back inside.

Genius has its limits.

Posted by BlueWolf on July 17, 2002 11:54 PM