Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

8/10/2018

Existential Frog

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

More strange, short movies for you.

I tend to think of movies with special effects as something relative new and modern, but that’s just not really true. I also have to admit that I think of color movies not being a “thing” until after The Wizard Of Oz, even though I know that’s not true either. I honestly don’t know when color started to be a regular thing in movies, but I know that “special effects” of one kind or another have been around almost as long as movies themselves. Of course, just like today, limited budgets had a direct effect on the amount and quality of special effects in a film. And, also, just like today, artists who are driven to express their creative vision find a way to get that vision made, regardless of the limitations. What’s more, the very best of those artists stretch the possibilities of what can be accomplished.
One of those artists is Segundo Chomón, a Spanish director and cinematographer who lived from 1871 to 1929 and pioneered some incredible effects, camera tricks and optical illusions in film. I found him recently via Boing Boing, who shared his deeply weird short film from 1908, titled “The Frog”. I can promise you that it is strange. What’s stranger is how modern the effects seem. What’s mind-boggling, to me at leas,t is that it was done 110 years ago! You can see a larger selection of his work at The Segundo de Chomón Collection at The Internet Archive. They’re definitely worth checking out.
And, they’re certainly better than whatever you were doing that led you to this website on a Friday!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

8/3/2018

More Free Alternatives to Photoshop

Filed under: Art,Fun,Linux,Photography — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but things change.

Okay, some things don’t change and one of those is that Adobe Photoshop is still the leader in graphics editing software, especially for photographers. But, it’s also pretty expensive, which means everyone is always looking for a cheaper alternative. Frankly, for years, I was no different. Most of the time, I used GIMP, but there are actually a lot of other packages that are out there now. In fact, the fine folks at the Photo Argus have posted a review of 11 Outstanding (Free)Alternatives to Photoshop, one of which is GIMP. I used GIMP for years, in part because it was the first “big” photo editor that was available on Linux. My thinking was that Linux was the wave of the future, so I might as well learn the software package that ran on it best. Sadly, that dream has never come to fruition,but GIMP is still free, so it’s not all bad. I’m not as familiar with the other ones, but since they’re all free, why not download them and see which you like best?
Personally, I started subscribing to the Adobe Photographer’s Pack, which gives me access to Photoshop and Lightroom for a relatively low monthly fee. Definitely worth it, I think.

By the way, I’m trying something new with my writing workflow. I’ve been writing posts in a software package called Scrivener, queuing them up and archiving them once I’ve scheduled them in my blog software. So far, it’s worked pretty well and it’s helping me get used to writing in Scrivener. Of course, I’ve only done two posts, but my intention is to get into a habit of writing this way so I can extend it to fiction. That was why I bought Scrivener in the first place and has been my goal since I was in the Fourth Grade and transformed the amazingly dull writing exercise “My Adventure At The Circus” into a tale of subterranean mythic adventure. I think it was good preparation for writing pulp fiction, but we’ll just have to see what I manage to produce.
In any case, I’ll keep these weekly posts coming!
See you next week!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

7/27/2018

Making Neon Signs

Filed under: Art,Fun — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

As promised, I’ve got fun videos for you this week.

I’ve always loved those “how did they make that?” shows and videos. Even the most mundane things in our modern world can seem miraculous when you can see the incredible way that they’re made. As a survivor of a Marketing education, I am still interested in advertising and signage. And, in my opinion, the most magical signage is still the venerable neon sign. Even in science-fiction movies, like Blade Runner, neon signs still show up to give us that sense of gritty reality and solid commerce that underlies whatever environment they inhabit. All of which is preface to say, “Hey, look! Cool videos about how neon signs are made!”.
The link I’m sharing is to the blog post Watch this short film on the art of making neon signs on Boing Boing. But, don’t be fooled, there’s more there than one short film. And, more than that, all the films of artisans creating the most amazing and gorgeous neon artwork are fascinating to watch. At least, they were to me.
I hope you enjoy them!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

7/20/2018

The Greatest Time To Be Alive

Filed under: Fun,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

In many ways, the world is actually improving.

I know this isn’t my usual Friday Fun Link fare, but, frankly, with terribly depressing news media and the horrible sense of that everything good is long behind us, not to mention the dumpster fire that is U.S. politics these days, it just seemed like maybe it was time to share something that was more positive. Sure, I could have given you another simple distraction, like videos about chocolate production or the fascinating science behind flatulence, but it seemed like maybe sharing some good things that are a bit more meaningful was appropriate this week. So, here are just five ways that the world is actually showing some improvement.

1. Over the last 20 years, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty has almost been cut in half.

2. The share of homes that had electricity in 1870 was exactly zero. Today the proportion of people with electricity is 85%.  I, personally, have known two people who were born before electricity in homes was normal or common and they both said it was life-changing in ways we can’t imagine.

3. In 1800, among all babies who were ever born, roughly half died during their childhood. Life expectancy was just 30 years and no country had a life expectancy above 40. Life expectancy at birth was only 45 years in 1870. The average life expectancy around the world today is 72.

4. The violent crime rate has been on a downward trend since 1990 in the U.S. Just under 14.5 million crimes were reported in 1990. By 2016 that figure was well under 9.5 million.

5. Retirement is still is a relatively new concept. In the past most people simply worked until they died. In the year 1870, for those who lived past age 65, the labor force participation ratio for males was close to 90%. Today it’s less than 20%.

You can read 45 more ways the world is getting better at the same place I got these; 50 Ways the World Is Getting Better, by Ben Carlson.
So, this weekend, when someone starts in on how terrible things are in the world, remind them that, actually, things have gotten better in the last 100 years or so.
Next week? Back to the videos.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

7/13/2018

Nerf Bazooka

Filed under: Art,Fun — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

Can a home-made Nerf gun be too big and powerful?

Possibly, but it will probably still be fun.
I’m pretty sure the biggest sticking point for my wife when she moved in with me was my rather impressive Nerf weapon collection. I am both proud and a little embarrassed to say that I had more than one fully automatic, battery-powered Nerf machine gun, including several that were still in the box. (The ones that were still in the box are currently up for sale on eBay through a broker, if you’re shopping for the perfect gift for a favorite nephew, by the way.) And, I’ve always been given to extremes, especially when it comes to pushing that very thin line between “child-like” and “childish” behavior in my hobbies. So, naturally, when I came across someone who had made a Nerf bazooka, I had to share it.
I found Ryan and Dave via Gizmodo’s article, but I highly recommend that you check out their R&D YouTube channel for all their other builds, too. There’s not much on the making of the Nerf bazooka, but there’s a lot of great video of them firing it. And more of their semi-deadly creations on their YouTube channel.

Either way, a great way to waste some time on a Friday instead of working!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

7/6/2018

Industrial Accident Game

Filed under: Art,Fun — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Industrial accidents are no joke, but they can be a fun theme for a game.

At least, I recently played a game on the web about an industrial accident that was, in fact fun.
The game was called, not surprisingly, Industrial Accident. The setting is an automated factory, where you play an artificial intelligence worker who experiences a little difficulty. And, it’s best if I don’t say any more, because it might spoil the fun. Seriously, I know it just seems like I’m being a lazy blogger during a holiday week, but knowing no more than what I’ve told you will make the game a bit more fun.
Also, keep in mind that it’s free and a pretty short game, so, even if you have a lot of work due to the short week, you have more than enough time to play.

Enjoy! And, help keep the workplace safe from malfunctioning AI!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

6/29/2018

Hurricane Season Preparations

Filed under: Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,News and Current Events,Personal Care,Red Herrings,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

The Gulf Coast is well into Hurricane Season. Are you prepared?

Here in Texas, hurricane season is kind of a big deal. And, with global climate change making tropical storms more frequent and more severe, it’s getting to be a bigger deal all the time. Usually, we have more than enough time to prepare, if you’re paying attention, but it never hurts to get ready well in advance so you’re not fighting for bottled water, bread and canned food with everyone else at the last minute.
So far, since I’ve been in Houston, I’ve been through one horrible tropical storm, and near miss and two actual hurricanes. After that first tropical storm, since my ex-wife and I were looking for a house, I chose one that wasn’t pulling up carpet. That turned out to be a pretty smart decision as not far away the neighborhood has some flooding issues. Thankfully, in the 18 years I’ve lived in my house, that’s never been a problem. But, all that said, I still worry about hurricanes and do try to take some reasonable precautions.

There are a couple of philosophies when it comes to hurricanes. Mostly, it’s either stay or go.
If you stay, you need to think about what you need to get by for an extended period of time. Most emergency preparedness sources suggest that you need to have food, water and other supplies for at least 72 hours. A great resource to help you plan is the Ready.gov site for hurricanes. They go over what to expect and even have really helpful PDF downloads to help you plan and prepare. And, actually, Ready.gov has a lot of resources for other kinds of disasters, too, like Wildfires, Tornadoes, Volcanoes, Floods and more. It’s definitely a resource worth checking out.
If you’re in the Houston area, like me, the city has their own disaster preparedness site, Ready Houston. It’s a good site and they offer a free DVD you can use to help you plan for emergencies with advice specifically for the Houston, TX area. They have videos on the site, too, as well as links to training other places, like FEMA.
One thing to consider if you have pets, for instance, is what to do with them during an emergency. FEMA has a training course for helping you with your animals in an emergency situation, which I found via the Ready Houston website. (They also have a more general, but, apparently, pretty complete course in general emergency preparedness.)

If you decide to make a run for it, you may want to put together what’s alternately called a “go bag” or a “bug out bag”. Personally, I feel the name “go bag” seems less paranoid and crazy-survivalist sounding, but it amounts to the same thing.
The idea is simple, really, it’s just a bag with all the things you need for anywhere from three days to a couple of weeks, ready to go on a moment’s notice. Not unlike a hospital bag for a pregnant woman, the main thing is that it’s packed and ready so when panic hits, you can just grab the bag and, well, go. Personally, I do NOT have a regular go-bag already prepped, because I frankly don’t have anywhere I’d run to in an emergency. And, if I did, I’d be neck deep in other people doing the same thing. But, again, you can take this as far as you’d like, assuming anything from temporarily relocating to another city and staying in a hotel to running off and hiding in the woods for a couple weeks. It’s up to you. But, either way, consider what might go into that bag. For some good examples, check out Scott Kelley’s Bug Out Bag on Kinja, who even provides links to what he bought so you can get it easily, too, and the oddly less woodsy approach to a bug out bag by American Rifleman Magazine, though I’m less convinced that you really need to be overly concerned with being armed. Remember, it ultimately comes down to just being ready for what ever you think might happen wherever you are.

I would also suggest that you have some long shelf-life food on hand, like every good IT guy has in his desk. In the past, I’ve used Millenium Food bars, actually, since they provide a lot of calories and energy with a five-year shelf-life, but really any good protein bar will do in a pinch.
One really good idea is to scan important documents, like a home-owner’s insurance policy and financial information and IDs and put them all on a LaCie USB key Flash Drive, or something similar that you keep on your keys, in case all the original documents get destroyed during a disaster or when you’re not at home.

So, in short, the idea here is to be like the Boy Scouts, prepared.
Have you gotten ready for hurricane season yet? Start now!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words by J K Hoffman.

6/22/2018

2018 Writing Contests

Filed under: Art,Contests,Fun,Stimulus and Production — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I used to write a lot. Actually, before I blogged, I used to write quite a bit more. My first blog, Diary of a Network Geek, was really an attempt to game the search engines into ranking my website higher so that recruiters would find me. That was in the era before all the job search websites were around. And, it worked, frankly, as my site was the number one hit on Google for “network geek” for years. My second blog, though, was The Fantasist’s Scroll, and was dedicated to writing. The name implies fantasy, swords-and-sorcery writing, but it was all kinds of fiction, including fantasy, science-fiction and more contemporary work. I find, though, that the older I get and the busier my life is, the harder it is to find time to write fiction. Obviously, I keep up with this blog regularly, albiet only on a weekly basis most of the time, but I’m always trying to find a way to trick my internal critic into unchaining the muse and letting me write fiction again. One way that I used to do that was working to a deadline. When you’re not actually a professional writer, that can be hard to do.
That’s where writing contests come in. Even the ones that happen every year have a deadline. A goal to work towards so that work can get submitted. And, that’s what I’m bringing you all this week; The “Complete” Guide to 2018 Writing Contests.
And, yes, I know this isn’t the absolute most comprehensive list of writing contests, but there are quite a few and near the top of the article there’s a link to sign up for email updates when they add to the list. I suspect it’s actually a marketing scheme, but it is free, so maybe it’s worth it.

Either way, if your goal is to write more this year, maybe working something up for submission to one of these contests will help keep you motivated!

This post first appeared on Use Your Words, my newer blog, which is why there are two self-referential links in it.  The internet is weird, isn’t it?

6/15/2018

Practical Effects

Filed under: Art,Fun — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

In this case, I’m talking about practical effects in film.

These days, we’re so used to seeing everything done with computers that we forget there are other ways to accomplish things. I know it tends to be a blind spot for me because I work with computers. And, let’s face it, computer graphics have gotten really, really good and let people do amazing things for relatively little amounts of money. Still, I’m old enough to remember the days when movies relied on practical effects, instead of digital. And, that’s why this surreal, little film titled Club Palace caught my attention. It’s a little surreal, but it was created entirely with practical effects. It’s short at just about four minutes, but it’s also beautiful and well worth those few short minutes of your time.
Besides, it’s Friday and you could use at least a short break, right?

 

This very short post originally appeared on Use Your Words, my other, newer, blog.

6/8/2018

Free Film Noir

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I’ve mentioned Open Culture before, but they’re a great resource.

This week, I’m thinking about movies. Dark movies with rough “heroes” that smoke too much and chase after femme fatales in stories that have grim endings. Yes, I’m talking about “film noir”. The best kind of old movies, in my opinion. The peak of the film noir movement was in the 1940’s and 50’s, but there are certainly examples of great film noir that reach well into the 60’s and even more modern times. I think I identify with the hard-luck heroes from these movies, who are worn down by life and are always scrambling for enough money to get by. That’s why I was thrilled to see that Open Culture has a collection of 60 free film noir movies that I could share with my faithful readers.
There are some I know and some I don’t know there, but there’s also the classic D.O.A. and He Walked By Night, which are well known to fans of the genre. Even if you don’t recognize all the films there will be plenty of stars who you WILL recognize, and there are a lot of movies here to check out.

Besides, they’re free and it’s Friday, so take a look and feel free to leave comments about your favorites!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

Next Page »

Powered by WordPress
Any links to sites selling any reviewed item, including but not limited to Amazon, may be affiliate links which will pay me some tiny bit of money if used to purchase the item, but this site does no paid reviews and all opinions are my own.