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What’s a geek to do in town?

I’m going to be moving to Duluth in the next couple months and was wondering what kind of nerdy stuff is around town.

What’s the best computer store in town for components? Somewhere where they’ll know what a GTX680 is. Are there any hacker/maker clubs? I’m also interested in volunteering; does anyone know of a computer refurbishing program? Are there any local tech websites or handouts?

I know there are more nerds like me; what are you up to?

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33 Comment(s)

  1. Don’t know about computer stores- I don’t game, so I don’t bother keeping up with hardware.

    Don’t know if any maker/hacker clubs or spaces, but would love to hear about it if there were. Recent project was replacing my broken dishwasher control board. Currently running on Linux and an Arduino, but will be able to ditch the Linux when I make a proper board with the RTC and an Atmega328. Recently got a Raspberry Pi, don’t have a project lined up for it yet.

    Welcome to Duluth!

    rev | Aug 2, 2012 | New Comment
  2. I’m all about the Rasberry Pi .. I’m making a TV computer for net video streaming. as far as nerd culture, you’re moving to the home of the original GeekProm so … you cant lob a holy hand grenade hereabouts with hitting some etsy knitters, theremin builder, a robot club or steampunk fashion shoot. Only thing missing, LARPers … I want to get my Darkon!

    baci | Aug 2, 2012 | New Comment
  3. Good luck with that.

    We have several computer stores, from your Computer Renaissance to A+ computers in Superior, but none of them really specialize in your high-end gaming components. Mostly because there is not a huge market for them here, and everyone just orders off Newegg. We used to have a group of people who did lan partys, mods and other such things but they seem to have disappeared.

    As far as volunteering, there is not much available on the tech/nerd side of things.

    Dorkus | Aug 2, 2012 | New Comment
  4. Duluth has lots of nerds and nerd-friendly activities, but many of us are introverted. You might want to get in with this group: Nerd Nite.
    Also, prep yourself for Geek Prom.

    BadCat! | Aug 2, 2012 | New Comment
  5. Whatever happened to the Ronin Motorcycle Collective?

    Barrett Chase | Aug 2, 2012 | New Comment
  6. Donating computers, ala rebuilding linux boxes for non-profits. Sounds like a cool project or opportunity. Throw out some ideas and meeting places; Duluth has a lot of people who are looking to pitch in and learn.

    adam | Aug 2, 2012 | New Comment
  7. We’ve tried to get a hackerspace going, but nothing has come of it yet. I’d be in for some tech meetups if anyone was interested….

    Alyssa | Aug 2, 2012 | New Comment
  8. Barrett, the motodojo is now active. As it’s currently organized, it won’t be suitable for a hacker space location. Just too many individual tools and expensive (dangerous) gear. We’ll be advertising as a heated / secure storage location for scooters/cycles over the winter (buck-a-bike-day with possibility of lift rental). Also, I just don’t have the time to be the organizer of a hackerspace. I’d happily contribute time and energy along with a team, but I can’t be the sole driver.

    baci | Aug 2, 2012 | New Comment
  9. I wonder whether Rogue Robot would be a good place for such meetings… | Aug 2, 2012 | New Comment
  10. Superior a few years back had a pretty decent LARP community, but alas, a few rotten individuals ruined it for us all. Now my cloak and great sword sit collecting dust waiting for their next adventure to come along.

    As far as computers, what you heard above is accurate. Plenty of shops and ways to order, but no real specialty places, especially when it comes to getting cpus or the higher-end gpus like the one you mentioned in your post.

    Jadiaz | Aug 3, 2012 | New Comment
  11. Without saying too much -- approach the local computer shops with care, experiment and decide which one is for you. But yeah, it’s all about internet ordering.

    Carla | Aug 3, 2012 | New Comment
  12. It looks like the entire state of Minnesota, not just Duluth, is lacking a 2600 meeting.

    adam | Aug 3, 2012 | New Comment
  13. Pub Quiz is pretty nerdy (and drunken) and takes place every Sunday at 9 p.m. at Carmody Irish Pub.


    De man | Aug 3, 2012 | New Comment
  14. Wow good list, thanks. I’m waiting for time to get to my raspberry pi. I’ve got a list of projects for it lined up already including a pong clock, random song jukebox and old school ANSI art display.
    I won’t be here for a while but it sounds like a raspberry pi meetup could work. Allow everyone to show of their work and get some ideas.

    cbroughton | Aug 3, 2012 | New Comment
  15. Yeah I’m not much of a gamer either. But like most of you I’m sure, I’m the one everyone asks to fix their computer. So when someone’s hard drive needs replacing it should I be able to find basic parts in town do you think? Nobody’s website that I found had like stock or prices.

    cbroughton | Aug 3, 2012 | New Comment
  16. Yeah I noticed that. The back of the magazine was one of the first places I checked for local goings on. I think something to specific is tough to keep on going. The Ottawa meetings existed, but we’re pretty sparse a lot of the time.
    It sounds like there’s interest in something along those lines though.

    cbroughton | Aug 3, 2012 | New Comment
  17. Yeah I don’t go out much either. But recently I started going to a few meeting at an Ottawa hackerspace and enjoyed it more than I thought it would.
    It was pretty basic too. Not really a lot of tools or a great space but we all seem to have projects we’d love to show and tell with like minded people.

    Nerd Nite is sounding pretty good if heir still around. It doesn’t look like there’s been a presentation since march.

    cbroughton | Aug 3, 2012 | New Comment
  18. Thanks everyone for the suggestions they’ve answered a bunch of my questions. It sounds like there’s a really good community and that there are geeks out there, that’s encouraging. It sounds like the issue is probably the same as most other things, time and organization. When I get here I’ll volunteer for any group that will take me.

    One other question I’ve had. Who do you use as an ISP? Are Century Link and Charter the only options? Is there a better more local option?

    Thanks again everybody.

    cbroughton | Aug 3, 2012 | New Comment
  19. For pure, non-enterprise speed, Charter is pretty much the only option. They offer up to 100Mbps in our area, whereas CenturyLink DSL maxes at 7Mbps (if you’re lucky to have an upgraded neighborhood). Charter does have a local office here, so at least you can walk in and ask questions/pay your bill/etc..). There are other local ISPs:

    - Superior Broadband (wireless, point-to-point)
    - Nextera (business wireless, dsl)
    - Enventis (business fiber, data center)

    There was another wireless ISP provider that a friend of mine used for awhile in Superior, but for the life of me, I can’t remember. All I know is that they used Mikrotiks as their endpoint router, which was neat.

    aluminumpork | Aug 4, 2012 | New Comment
  20. More Geek News:

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: Kevin Curry
    Date: Mon, Aug 6, 2012 at 8:43 AM
    Subject: Let’s Get Coding for America in Austin!
    Cc:, Austin

    Greetings Civic Heroes:

    Since our launch in March, we’ve been developing and testing the 5 best ways anyone, anywhere can code for America. Now we want to help you make that happen where you live.

    Please read about the 5 activities then reply to this email to let us know which interests you most. If none interest you please let us know. Include suggestions if you have them.

    We are looking for leaders to organize a Brigade in your city. Check out our leadership & captains programs. Reply to this email or the links on the page to let us know if you are interested in organizing a Brigade. We are happy to create or please nominate a local forum. In any case, use our MeetUp Everywhere for Brigade to host an information gathering of like-minded individuals in your city.

    We are here to assist you, but we are counting on you to seize the moment and code for America in your city. Together, we can build a civic web for our cities and communities.

    Best Regards,
    Kevin & Jack
    Brigade Support Team

    Kevin Curry
    Program Director
    CfA Brigade

    Carla | Aug 6, 2012 | New Comment
  21. I’m a little late to the comment party here, but I’d like to point out Rogue Robot Games & Comics as a geeky/nerdy place to hang out. You only specifically mentioned computer/hacker geekery, and we only do tabletop, roleplaying, card and board games. But you asked what nerds and geeks do in Duluth, and there are geeks of all trades here all the time. We have a lot of events for Magic, HeroClix, Warhammer, D&D, and other games. I don’t know if you’re into any of that stuff, but for instance, if you want to meet geeky people, you could come to a Board Game Night on Monday. (Once we get a demo for it we’ll be playing Android: Infiltration, which is about thieves trying to hack their way into a huge computer system for a major heist, and it looks fantastic.) And in the future we’ll be doing trivia nights, and we’re trying to get in contact with the Nerd Nite people to host a Nerd Nite here.

    I moved to Duluth about 1.5 years ago, and I’ve made a lot of geeky friends and heard Duluth referred to as a “geeky city” a handful of times by different people. I think you’ll fit in well. :]

    Naleri | Aug 18, 2012 | New Comment
  22. Please please take on organizing a hackerspace. Yu’ll have lots of support! I’ll assist as I can. Time is my only hindrance.

    baci | Aug 18, 2012 | New Comment
  23. Dude, it was worse when the 2600 meetings in the Twin Cities were at the food court at the Mall of America. I kid you not.

    We need a Nerd Nite presentation on quarter tones and phone phreaking. | Aug 18, 2012 | New Comment
  24. What would it take to constitute a “hackerspace”? | Aug 18, 2012 | New Comment
  25. There have been at least three Nerd Nites since March:

    I know another one is scheduled, but I don’t remember when.

    Lithis | Aug 18, 2012 | New Comment
  26. Nerd Nite 18:

    Tuesday, 11 September 2012
    19:30 until 21:30
    After a summer hiatus/break (featuring some small shows at the Collector’s Connection, or in support of The Prisoner and One Man Star Wars) Nerd Nite Duluth is back!

    For your learning pleasure, your team of Alpha Nerds are brewing up something special featuring:

    + Members of the The HARBOR CITY ROLLER DAMES demonstrating the strategy, rules and culture of flat track roller derby!
    + BLACKLIST BREWING shows off their upcoming art and brew projects.
    + JESS McCULLOUGH and his study of Norse Mythology and Procreative Myths!

    Plus Games! Mirth! Door Prizes! Laughter!

    As always:

    Doors at 7:00
    Show at 7:30
    Entry: 5 Dollars! | Aug 18, 2012 | New Comment
  27. There used to be 2600 meetings at the Barnes and Noble here in Duluth.

    Lithis | Aug 18, 2012 | New Comment
  28. Thanks for pointing out Rogue Robot Games and Comics. I’ll have to check them out next time I’m up. I did find Collector’s Connection out by Best Buy while driving around. I’m addicted to pinball so I’m glad I found at least a few machines in town. I’ve also heard there’s a Dragon Port Games downtown I’ll have to check out.

    Personally I’m not that into D&D but I’ve been thinking about taking up Magic:TG again to get out and meet people. It’s been 15 years since I last played but it sounds like there are plenty of games going on.

    cbroughton | Aug 19, 2012 | New Comment
  29. @Carla I heard about CodeForAmerica through the Spark podcast and I think it’s a great idea. I didn’t know about these smaller brigades, it’s exactly the kind of thing I had in mind. Thanks for posting.

    cbroughton | Aug 19, 2012 | New Comment
  30. I’ve been to Rogue Robot a few times. The owners are nice. The game room looks good, too, but I haven’t played there yet.

    Dragon Port closed a few months ago.

    Dungeon’s End, in West Duluth, is another local game store. I’ve never been there, though.

    Lithis | Aug 19, 2012 | New Comment
  31. Dungeon’s End is a nice little store. Staff is friendly. Good selection of tabletop accessories. Right across the street from Beaner’s, so you can get jazzed up and then kill hordes of space marines.

    adam | Aug 19, 2012 | New Comment
  32. Dungeon’s End is also across the street from Central Sales, “the handyman’s candy land,” a must for people in the market for weird hardware, parts, and surplus.

    Barrett Chase | Aug 19, 2012 | New Comment
  33. Right — Central Sales is the closest we get to Ax-Man Surplus or American Science and Surplus — though I’ll be clear, nothing is as cool as American Science and Surplus. | Aug 19, 2012 | New Comment

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