Think of me as a hot date

It isn't true that all young people who find their way into information technology careers are skinny, wear thick glasses, and button their short-sleeve dress shirts at the neck ... without a tie. Still, in the popular culture we've come to know them as nerds, geeks, or – at the most polite extreme – "techies." Not the sort you'd expect to see in a TV commercial for rugged pickup trucks or a bottled energy drink. So perhaps it was inevitable that some institution of higher learning would get around to offering a course aimed at developing the nontechnical skills of such people. In other words, how to pursue a more robust lifestyle while attracting members of the opposite sex. Well, one has: Potsdam University in Germany. Classes begin Monday, and, according to reports, 440 people have enrolled. "We want to prepare our students to succeed," said a school spokesman, "in their private life" as well as – say – when they're devising a new operating system. Philip von Senftleben, the instructor, is expected to cover such points as confident body language, how to impress party guests (other than with one's knowledge of algorithms), writing flirtatious e-mail and text messages, and – should those fail – how to cope with rejection. He's a veteran conductor of seminars and a talk-show host, and his website claims that flirting is "key to any form of success for women, men, in business life, in business management." The new course is open only to master's degree candidates, perhaps on grounds that they've been at their studies so long that they're the ones who need the most help.

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