Sharing a broom closet with a million gizmos
At 2 am a few weeks ago, I was sitting in my office with a phone line wrapped around my neck, up to my elbows in various power cables and connections cords, trying my best not to slam my fists on the desk in frustration.
How, pray tell, did you find yourself in this awkward position, you ask? Well, 520 square feet and two bedrooms may be a lot of space for one person by Hong Kong standards, but us geeks need a little more elbow room than most.
You say you find it difficult to stuff your stuff into your overpriced abode.
But just think about what I have to deal with. Geeks have special problems.
Its not just me that lives here, after all. There is me, my computer, 17-inch monitor, my scanner, my printer, my removable media hard drive, my modem, and a fairly large pair of speakers.
Throw in all of the usual stuff that one needs to get by these days, a bed big enough to comfortably accommodate my 190-centimetre frame, a laser disk player, stereo, espresso maker and drawer filled with unused 10Base-2 transceivers and RCA cables, and suddenly things get pretty damn crowded.
On top of this, I have visitors on a regular basis.
Last month, my apartment was temporary home to no less than eight flatbed scanners and a rather portly, heavy set dye-sub printer. There were scanners, boxes, cables, CD-ROMs and disks strewn from hell to breakfast. My place looked more like a warehouse than a home.
Even now there is my girlfriend's Mac SE sitting on the living room floor.
The hard disk needs some work. I was going to suggest turning the old beast into a rather funky fish tank, but how's a geek to resist a beautiful woman in need of help with her computer.
But let me tell you about the most persistent thorn in the side of your average Hong Kong geek - lack of power outlets.
My office has exactly two outlets to handle all of my toys, which need a total of 10 sockets. Plus there is, of course, no phone socket.
Which brings me to why I was sitting in my office at 2 am in my pyjamas. My nearest phone socket is in what the landlord calls 'the master bedroom'.
That meant I needed a phone cable about 10 metres long to hook up the modem, to which I then connected my telephone.
Unfortunately for me, the phone cable was only about eight metres long. This meant that some of the cable had to take a short cut through the middle of the room rather than running safely around the edge.
And cutting across the room meant going under the bed.
Now I don't know about your bed, but the space under mine is about the biggest storage area in my whole apartment.
Among the many most forgotten bits and bobs chucked beneath my bunk, there was, unfortunately, something sharp enough to cause a short in the phone cable.
So there I was at 2 am desperately trying to find out where the short was in the line so I could fix it and make an important phone call to New York.
In the end, I was able to isolate the short, find another cable in the drawer filled with unused 10Base-2 connectors and RCA cables, and I made my call.
But the next time time you see a dishevelled, surly looking individual with bags under his eyes, a PDA stuffed in his back pocket and a briefcase bulging with floppy disks and back issues of MacUser, give him a little room.