Gill Smith
Gill Smith - Comedy Writer & Performer

Gill's Journal, Issue

Quarterly magazine of The ARM Club the Leading Independant
RISC OS Computer User Club.

Some months ago, in a Eureka far, far away, Dave Ruck claimed to be the spoddiest spod. Well, due to certain recent changes in his life, (he changed to a job that doesn't give him e-mail, and at about the same time, got a girlfriend), I think it must be time he was deposed from that position. This time, to be fair, the coveted position will be open to all the membership, by way of a points-based quiz. The one who scores the highest will be crowned 'Spoddiest Spod.'

Now, I know you're all raring to go, but I think it'd help to start with the rules. At the shows, I'm going to try to find few willing victims from among the committee, to give you a few example scores. It wont be Toby, as I've needed too much of his help with this. I should point out that this doesn't make him spoddiest necessarily, as some of the questions are 'lifestyle' issues. If all you know about lifestyle is that it's a section in the Sunday papers that you have to flick past to find the technical pages, then this quiz is definitely for you.

Gill Smith runs The Spod Quiz - How bad are you?


  1. This is taking the style of a Women's Magazine quiz, so basically, you have a series of questions, with possible answers a to e. If you haven't ever read 'Cosmo' or 'Elle', borrow one from a convenient passing woman. If you haven't got a convenient passing woman, then there's a question for you later…You pick which of the answers best suits you. Here's an example:

    Example: Do you program?

    1. Do I what?
    2. Yes, the video.
    3. Only spreadsheets functions.
    4. A bit of C++, BASIC and I'm trying to learn Java.
    5. You name it, I can program it.

    As you can guess, in this example, the person who voted (a) would be least spoddy, and whoever voted (e) would be in with a chance of becoming spoddiest spod.

  2. Write down, or circle your answers. You start with a basic score of 75. This allows you to score a minimum or zero points (Yes, we take them away too!) and a maximum of 300 points. When you get to the end, you can then look up what you scored for each question. Add or subtract the points for each to reach your total score. Anyone caught scoring 0 is recommended to seek help to bring you into this century. Anyone scoring 300 is even more strongly recommended to seek psychiatric help, in order to explain to you the term life, and then how to get one.

  3. You can then turn to my analysis of whether you are a spod, or one of those strange individuals with a life. If you think you're in with a chance of being spoddiest spod, we'd like to hear from you. We want to know who takes over the title!

  4. At the both Epsom and Birmingham shows, some of the ARM Club committee will try this out, and let you know their scores. Try to come along, and see how you compete!


  1. To start to write a letter you:
    1. Find your prettiest notelets and a pen.
    2. Get someone to get set up the computer for me.
    3. Turn on the word processor.
    4. Use my favourite text editor.
    5. handcode 'latex' into my emacs / vi session.

  2. You see the letters "http://www (etc)" on a TV/ billboard advert. What do you do?
    1. Ignore it and hope it'll go away.
    2. Tell my friend who's into computers.
    3. Scribble it down to look it up.
    4. Look at it for more information, and long for the day when you could just do that from your digital TV.
    5. You could connect to it using your palmtop and mobile, but it's beneath you to look at a site that can't properly follow web address conventions - that should be, not Yuck!

  3. How do you go about planning a journey?
    1. I can usually work out where to go - my strong intuition helps guide me.
    2. I'll find a map and work out a route.
    3. I'll look it up on a route planner website, or get some software that does it.
    4. I'll look it up on my palmtop's route planner, and before I leave, check out the traffic news websites.
    5. I've got GPS installed in my car, and run linux in it, so that all the traffic information gets gathered onto my laptop in the passenger seat, and I can dynamically re-plan my route where necessary.

  4. What's on your bookshelves?
    1. Lots of classical fiction, and some pretty china figures.
    2. Mostly novels, a bit of sci-fi, and some reference books.
    3. All sorts of things; some Douglas Adams, and a couple of 'Dummies' guides.
    4. Well, after the CD ROMS there's not much space left, but I do manage to fit the complete Terry Pratchett series.
    5. Just the O'Reilly 'Animal' series. That's all I need.

  5. How would you send a fax?
    1. I wouldn't want to try something that technical.
    2. I don't know, I can never get it to send the paper!
    3. Dial the right number into your fax machine and send it through.
    4. I'd e-mail to fax, it's more fun that way!
    5. Why bother? Doesn't everyone relevant have e-mail?

  6. What's a good meal out?
    1. TGI's, Chicago Rock Café, Wagamamas; somewhere it's good to be seen.
    2. I'll go anywhere my friends recommend.
    3. There are some good recommendations on the web.
    4. Pizza hut.
    5. Out? Medium Americano, as I try to revive the company's network.

  7. What is a "Smurf Attack"?
    1. Little blue people coming to get you!
    2. I thought this was meant to be a technical quiz?
    3. Is that like a virus?
    4. Network Denial of service attack.
    5. A denial of service attack using broadcast ping to a faked address on ICMP.

  8. You're looking for a new fridge, and the salesman is suggesting a new bar-code reading one. How do you respond?
    1. Does it still keep beer cold then?
    2. Isn't that a bit 'Big Brother'?
    3. Cool. How does that work then?
    4. Great - so it can e-mail the list directly to the shop, and I'll never need to shop again!
    5. So it'll plug into my house flood-wired LAN, and I then telnet into it, like a router, to configure it for my mail server's settings.

  9. Have you ever had a girlfriend/boyfriend?
    1. Yeah, but I change them every week.
    2. A few. The least said about some of them, the better!
    3. I had one a while ago, but it's been a couple of years.
    4. I 'dated' someone on a talker once, but they refused to ever meet up, so I'm worried they weren't the opposite sex.
    5. No, but I've set up a Philippa Forester fan club newsgroup, and we swap jpegs of pictures we get of her, swap any news about her, and sometimes meet on a talker. I've created her a world wide presence. I'm hoping she'll spot the site and realise how dedicated to her I am. My backdrop gives me a random different picture of her every day. One day…

  10. How many e-mail addresses do you have?
    1. Do you mean "Where do I live?"
    2. 1-2
    3. 3-5
    4. I have as many as I like on my dial-up account.
    5. Infinite within my domain,

  11. When you go somewhere on business, what's most important in picking a hotel?
    1. It's got to be the right sort of place that I'd like to be seen at.
    2. Nice comfy bed, and a gym.
    3. I like to have a phone, and somewhere I can put the laptop, in case I need to do a bit of work.
    4. I need to be able to connect to the hotel's network, so I can send and collect e-mails.
    5. Nothing really - I carry all the equipment I need my palmtop, phone, etc. I suppose it's always good to have a table.

  12. How do you plan your social life?
    1. I call a few friends, and maybe phone for cinema times.
    2. I'll often send an e-mail a few days before, but we check arrangements on the phone.
    3. I'll often check the websites for cinema times, before I suggest a few possibilities to my mailing-list.
    4. I'll check on the talker to see if anyone's got plans, and we'll all look up the relevant websites to see what we want to do.
    5. Well, first I set up the relevant mailing lists to send me details of cinema times and anything else that's on locally. There's an automatic process to cut out anything more than 15 miles away, unless it fits the criteria to be really interesting. That's all rule based stuff. Then my box automatically collects reviews of the films from uk.rec.films, and on anything else that it's received, and it matches the film reviews to the cinemas and times, creating me a series of web pages. Last week, some junk slipped through, but by the end of Saturday night, I'd the necessary extra rules set up. Now I just need to find someone who'll go to something with me…

  13. You're on your way somewhere, and you know you're going to be late. Do you:
    1. Not a problem - one likes to be fashionably late.
    2. Panic a bit, and try to rush the rest of the way.
    3. Phone ahead - you've got your mobile with you after all.
    4. Send an SMS message - sometimes just to give an ETA when you aren't late.
    5. Send them an e-mail - you know they'll still be at their computer.

  14. The number of women you know is:
    1. Count the female under 50's in Who's who, and that's about right.
    2. Loads. Why?
    3. A few I used to go to school / college with.
    4. Less than the number of computers I've got - but that's only because I've got so many computer's honest!
    5. All my machines are female and individually named. My latest machine is called Sandra, and I'm having a lot of fun with her!

  15. Name an Operating System:
    1. Brain surgery
    2. Is that something to do with computers?
    3. DOS
    4. RISC OS - by far the best, you can do so much more on this sort of platform.
    5. Well, tell me what you're trying to do, and I'll tell you which of the 103 I've used best suits it.

  16. At parties, what do you truthfully tell people what your job is?
    1. Yes, I tell them about my work at Daddy's firm.
    2. Yes, unless I'm trying really hard to pull.
    3. I tell them I'm in computers - anything but admit accountancy!
    4. No, I'm a techie, so I claim to be a freelance biscuit tester!
    5. Why not - everyone at the annual office party knows what I do already?


For each answer (a) take five (5) points off your score.
For each answer (b) you neither lose nor gain any (0) points.
For each answer (c) add five (5) points to your score.
For each answer (d) add ten (10) points to your score.
For each answer (e) add fifteen (15) points to your score.


Well that's pretty pathetic. Just what are you doing reading this magazine? I'm sorry if I mislead or excited you with the mention of Cosmo earlier. Tell me, have you worked out that Acorn refers to something more than those little things that fall off Oak trees?

Well, you're on this planet, which is a good start, but there might be a few occasions when you want to use the tech support number. You just have a bit too much of a life to really be a spod! Don't tell me you've even got friends - real physical ones, not just on the internet?

You seem to have actually got a balance; a bit of a life, but technically you mostly know what you're doing, and you can bluff your way in spod-land when you have to. You might even have discovered the joys of home-cooked food, not just take-away pizza. With other people. Be careful though; those other people might take time away from getting your house onto a LAN.

You really know what you're doing and have a job title with the word 'software' in it to prove it. You could well be a local spod-king. Be careful to hang around the right places (the local art school, your company's sales & marketing department) if you're really going to impress people with your technical skills. Now get practising your speed draw of the Palmtop from it's holster!

You're well and truly in the running for the crown of spoddiest spod. You wouldn't know a life if it painted itself pink, and danced across your screen singing "I'm a life, I'm a life." You'd probably wonder who you should kill file for sending you the animation. When did you last drink something that wasn't coffee, or eat something other than pizza?

See you at Epsom!

Written by Gill Smith. Published Winter 1999. Reproduced with permission.