faq updated 9 Apr 2017

What is the "Geek Room"?

It is james' ཟབ་སྦྱོང་ - workshop room - for doing and sharing computer tech.
more ...
  • Its main purpose is for James to have a stable place to meet with Tibetan techies (and others) to learn coding through making websites, share web development knowledge, and consult on websites
  • It is not a public space (and should not be linked to/shared in public spaces or websites). It is only for use of James, and local techies by invitation.
  • techie teachers and advisors can share at this room as well.
  • techie people can have a place to play with code or hardware
  • a place for related techie meetings, such as Digital Dhasa or HillHackers.

Please note: "Geek Room" and "Tibetan Geeks" are not businesses; not organisations; and most definitely not any kind of centers of Tibetan tech world. The names represent the people who i serve. That is all!

What is the big picture?
To serve Buddhism and His Holiness the Dalai Lama through the Tibetan exile community in India, with the small skills i have.
Why are you doing this?
Because dharma.
But ... there aren't usually many people there.
I know! Isn't it great? :) That is a Good Thing.
Coding is hard. A lot of people like to take classes about programming, and talk about programming, and read about programming, but there are very few people who are writing code and building things that last. James and the Geek Room are for those special few people.
more ...
Also: 1. over half my work is with people online. 2) some people, when seriously programming, find it easier to juggle those puppies and chainsaws without distractions. So when people are really working and learning, you probably won't see them :) 3. A lot of people who like to do programming, tend not to hang out with other people a lot.
So there are many people using the Geek Room, even when you don't see them.
But ... You aren't doing this right. You need to have an organisation / write project proposals / spend more time socialising / hang out with non-techie people ...
Yep, that is all great and necessary stuff. Go for it!
There are many ways to learn tech stuff and many ways to build websites. This way works for me and the people who work with me.
What is your Big Deal about money? There's nothing wrong with people making money from websites. Or for the Geek Room getting some.
You are absolutely right. Nothing wrong with those things at all. I got to experience making hecka money, and it was fun. We all have different paths, and this is mine for the past 15 years.
more ...
The things with which we build — Linux, HTML, the Web, the Internet, PHP, MySQL/MariaDB, and many many more — are all given to us for free. Without them, we wouldn't be building the web — or making money!
The people who gave their precious time to help me when i was learning, didn't have to do it, and didn't get anything from it (i was a very slow student!). Without them, i wouldn't be here.
Now is my time to give back a little, and the energies that guide me, keep whispering that money energy is on obstacle on this path. I don't argue with them. :)
I'm a techie; to me it's all about what works!
Why you have this website about it, if geek room is private?
Because Web is what we are about.
Because this way i can share info with the people i work with, who are all over the world.
Why you have events listed that aren't local, or aren't even techie?
Because they may be of interest to some of us, and/or because they may impact others' or my activities at the Geek Room.

What is "coding"?

Writing words in languages that computers understand
Notice those words: "words". "languages". "understand". Those are human things!
Wow, really? That's great -- it's just writing and words. Then what is so hard about that?
Well, it's the "computer" part that is the hard part.
Talking to a computer is like talking to a 2-year-old child with the powers of Iron Man and Spider Man. You have to be very very clear, explain exactly what you want, and be prepared for some huge mistakes or temper tantrums if it doesn't understand.
Not everybody has the kind of mind to deal with that more than a few times. :D
How long does it take to learn php, making websites, wordpress, ...
1) In general, it takes two or three months to get the idea of one of those things.
2) In general, it takes about 10 years to become good at it.
3) I have been building web for 20 years, programming for 16 years, and developing in WordPress for 6 years. And i am still learning, every day.
How to do it:
  1. Start reading, listening to others, watching videos, and as soon as possible start doing.
  2. Then do some more. And read and listen and watch. At this point, you’ll start to understand it, but you’ll suck. This stage could take months. (For me, it took many!)
  3. More more more. After a couple of years, you’ll get good at it.
  4. And more and more. Find out that you still never stop making mistakes, and there will always be new things to learn.
  5. And all along, keep checking: Is your heart still really in it? If you don't love it, don't do it – it's too hard!
    more: Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years
Why is making websites hard? It's just some words and pictures.
Because websites are made with codes: HTML and CSS, which are getting more complicated every day. And behind that is a lot more coding (see above). To be useful at all, we have to learn them all, and well.
But that sounds too hard.
Yup. Anything really powerful, in fact just about anything worth doing, is also really difficult.
People who find that "It's too hard." or "It's too much trouble" should hire a web developer, and get on with doing things that they love.
What is your Big Deal about coding and security? Sheesh, it's just chatting with my friends and looking at cute photos, c'mon.
For you, maybe. For others, it's a little more than that.
Example: the government of Communist China spends more money on Internet security and censorship than it does on its armed forces.
Example: the government of the United States spends some huge amount of money on personnel and facilities for the same thing, including tracking almost everyone in the world, including its own citizens.
Example: People with names like Manning, Snowden, Assange, and more are in exile or prison or dead because governments don't want you to know about those things.

What is "james"?

In this manifestation: A coder, who likes to share coding
Why don't you teach
dreamweaver/python/ruby/javascript ...
this/that/other cool framework/system/technology ...
My priorities are defined by the needs of the people i serve, as well as my own skills/capabilities.
more ...
Of course it will be affected by my own coding preferences, views of web technologies, etc.
But in the end, every technology i choose to use and to share, has been carefully thought about.
1) it has to be useful in today's — meaning this year's — web building world.
2) It has to be something that is understandable to local web developers and to their colleagues, and can be passed on to the owner of the website.
Of course i enjoy playing with the latest Cool Web Trick, and i love to learn things. But if i build with something exotic, and the owners -- or myself! -- can't maintain the website, then i consider the work to be only an exercise in pleasing myself, and a disservice to the people whom i hopefully serve.
Why don't you use modern IDEs and frameworks, and teach them? This vim and shell stuff is way behind the times!
  1. Use: They work for me good enough to (currently) code, build, maintain, admin, and secure over 20 websites (most of them wordpress).
  2. more
    And i still find time to eat breakfast.
  3. Teach: The fashions in tools and implementations change quickly. The basic concepts have lasted for most of my lifetime (and all of yours :p).
  4. more
    Web is text and files. If people can get solid in those concepts, they can learn whatever tool they want, whenever they want. They have the power!
What gives you the idea you know about these things?
Been making websites since the Web was born. And ...
I type 90 words a minute.
I think hella faster than that.
Experienced enough to have made more websites than you.
Old enough to have made more mistakes than you.
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Your [mind] can't hit what your eyes can't see. Rumble, young one, rumble!
Why are there organisations or people that you no longer work with?
  • either the organisation found their own web developer (which is my goal),
  • or didn't need my services, or don't understand how to use me (which is fine, i have my hands full as it is).
In all cases, i am honoured to have touched so many pieces of the Tibetan world.
You say you "don't do, only teach" but we know you have built many websites for organisations, and especially for one person
yes — because if i don't do, i have nothing to teach. So i choose the "do's" very carefully ...
If an organisation or individual shows by their actions, not just pretty words, that they are fully involved in working on their website, then i can build to good standards, and show them how to whatever degree matches their own skills.
In this way i can also learn new things and then show others.
In the case of that one person, he is not a coder so the first requirement, of "showing how", doesn't apply. But he is the most precious of site owners: One who really understands the coder's role, and who really cares about his websites. His websites have continued and grown for 15 years, while in the same time many organisations have lost their domain names, their content, and precious code and apps that hard-working volunteers built for them. And he wants to share everything on his websites with the world, including the code, which he encourages me to share with my students. Without the extensive experience of working on his websites, i would have much less knowledge to share.
I have heard that you
are the real director of the Miss Tibet Pageant ... are really a woman ... have deserted children in the west ... are a tool of China ... go to Thailand all the time for the pretty girls ...
Oh yes! Absolutely. All true ...
... in alternate realities ... :)
and i have heard that the Dalai Lama has horns ... the Dalai Lama is a tool of the CIA ... Tibetans are all rich and live on money from gullible Westerners ... the Karmapa is Chinese spy ... Tibetans are "terrorists" ... exile Tibetans are lazy and don't do any big or difficult works ... my students are just using me and will never make real websites ...
Aren't rumours great? You can have so many exciting worlds!
What is the airspeed of an unladen swallow?
well now ... African or European?