Diary of a Network Geek

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

7/29/2011

Chicken or Egg?

Filed under: Art,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:46 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Personally, I find both to be delicious!

But, that has nothing at all to do with this post.
I’ve been thinking about a lot of stuff this week.  Mostly, though, I’ve been thinking about creativity and photography.  So, instead of just bringing you one link today, I’m bringing you two.
First, a little about creativity.  Some time ago now, Paul Zii wrote 29 Ways to Stay Creative on his Tumblr.  It’s worth reading.  I can’t promise you that it will fix your creative slump, but, really, the novelty of trying anything from that list is likely to stir something for you, even if it’s not today.  Besides, what can it hurt?
I’ve been thinking about creativity, primarily my own, for a little bit now.  My photography, I feel, has been getting stale.  For a while, going out shooting with other photographers seemed to help me, but, now, I find myself more stymied by them than inspired.  I shoot what they’re into, not because I’m all that interested, but because I’m with them.  Not that it’s a bad thing, by any means.  They’re mostly a good group of photographers and pretty decent people, too, so hanging out with them has been fun.  But, due to some interpersonal “stuff”, I found myself asking if that was really what I wanted to be doing with my photography.  Did I really want someone else to drive what I shot and why?  As it turns out, not so much.  So, change and its relationship to creativity has been on my mind a lot lately.  And, of course, I thought back to Paul’s list.  Some of those things, I did or have done, before.  Some are entirely new ideas.  All of them stimulated my thinking and creativity.
If you’re in a slump, try them.  They may help!

Second, a very creative idea for cameras.  Pinhole Egg Cameras.  Yeah, that’s right, it’s an article about making pinhole cameras from eggs, developing the photos from them and displaying them.
I have never done film photography, really, just digital, so these absolutely fascinated me.  In fact, seeing these made me give serious thought to taking an old-fashioned film photography course.  I have a film camera and I know it works because I’ve lent it to several people at the office when they were taking photography courses.
Well, maybe one day, when I have more time….

Until then, though, you might as well enjoy the links!  It is, after all, Friday!

7/22/2011

The History of Digital Photography

Filed under: Art,Fun,Red Herrings,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:07 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

You may have seen this already…

If you travel in the same tech circles on-line that I do, you probably have seen a lot of the same things I link to here on Fridays.  So, why do I still do it?  Well, for a couple reasons.
First, because maybe you missed it.  Or it didn’t seem like it was what it is so you didn’t actually look at it.
Secondly, because, well, I liked it, so I want to link to it so I don’t lose the link, even if you don’t like it.
And, thirdly, of course, because it adds search engine optimization “juice” to my tiny, little marketing tool, er, I mean, blog.

So, anyway, now that the business is out of the way, here’s the real stuff.
You all should know by now that I’m a little bit into photography.  (Yeah, yeah, I know, that’s like saying Shakespeare wrote a couple plays, but, still, you get what I’m saying here, right?)  And, of course, digital photography is “where it’s at”, as the hep cats say.  Well, as ubiquitous as it may seem today, it wasn’t always so.  Don’t believe me?  Okay, then hop over to ExtremeTech and check out their History of Digital Photography and see if that doesn’t change your mind.
Also?  It’s Friday and you’re obviously slacking if you’re reading this blog anyway, so you might as well go see something fun.

7/15/2011

Stolen Camera Finder

Filed under: Art,Fun,Red Herrings,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:12 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Regular readers may be familiar with my photography obsession.

A number of years ago, I spent some money I’d hoarded on an entry-level Canon DSLR, instead of some medical bills.
I’ll be honest, sometimes I worry that I should have spent the money on the medical bills, but, my shots are getting better.  I take great comfort in the idea that it’s the photographer, not the camera, that takes the photo.  Mostly because the majority of my gear is, well, let’s just say, not “top flight” and leave it at that.  But, still, if my camera were stolen, I’d be quite devastated and I’d want to find it again.  Well, that’s where the Stolen Camera Finder comes in.

First, you should know that this is NOT something you install on your camera.  Nor is it some kind of insurance.  Rather, it’s a webpage.  And, it’s free.
Here’s how it works: You get a photograph which you which you took with missing camera.  You take that photo to the website I linked to above and drop it on the target, per the instructions.  Then, the website does a search, based on the metadata from you photo, which includes the serial number of your camera, to find all the photos it can which match the starting photo.  If, or when, it finds photos posted by someone else that have the same serial number embedded in them as your source photo, it shows you the sites.  You can then go track down the person who used your stolen camera to make some of those terrible Facebook photos, or, I guess now, Google+ photos.

How you handle it after that is up to you.
All that matters is that Stolen Camera Finder helps you find your camera.

Okay, maybe not the “funnest” Friday Fun link I’ve ever posted, but, still, helpful if you’ve had a camera get stolen!

7/12/2011

RIght Sourcing

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Geek Work,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:05 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Regular readers know I’m not a big fan of outsourcing.

I am, however, even less of a fan of off-shoring.
Now, before someone calls me racist again, let me say that I have no problem at all with non-US citizens making money, no matter what country they’re from.  Honest!  I’m friends with more than one proud Green Card holder!  But, I’m not a big fan of shipping jobs to a foreign country when someone right here in the United States is out of work and can do the job.  In fact, for years I’ve advocated what one company I worked for did; Rural Sourcing.

Of course, at the time, we didn’t call it that, but, as it turns out, that’s what it is.
We had a call center in a very rural town, connected to our data via a satellite.  In fact, they were connected to the same service bureau that we were.  It was a pretty good deal, all the way around.  We got decent, cheap labor, that spoke English without an accent to our American customers.  They got better jobs than the local sugar beet canning factory.  Yeah.  That was our employment competition.  Can you guess where the majority of the people in town wanted to work?  I’ll give you a hint, it wasn’t standing on a production line with high-speed machinery.

So, while this isn’t new, it is, apparently, a newish idea for corporate America at large.
In any case, take a look at the article on Tech Republic; First Rural Sourcing Effort Proves Successful.
As I mentioned, it’s not new at all, but it must be a new concept for the author of the article.  I think it’s a great idea.  It CAN be cost effective to use local developers and local call centers in rural areas.  I don’t think it’s wrong to try and pull some of this business back from overseas.  I think it’s good, smart business.

7/8/2011

Canon Quick Guides

Filed under: Art,Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:05 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

I am, in spite of what some shooting buddies may have thought, a Canon shooter, and always have been.

I understand the crazy devotion that Nikonians have to their brand, but I do not share it.  So, for all you fellow Canonites, I have a special Friday treat; Canon Quick Guides.  These are guides right from the Canon mothership on how to use their gear, the right way.  They are, per the website, “a free downloadable resource for EOS cameras and accessories. These PDF cheat sheets are helpful tools to carry around in your camera bag for quick reference, or to read from your computer for step-by-step guidance on specific product features and techniques.”  And, they are pretty damn cool.

Incidentally, they were first pointed out to me by Syl Arena of Speedliting.com and The Speedliter’s Handbook fame.  Trust me on this, he knows Canon!

So, anyway, go print some out to throw into your camera bag before you go shooting this weekend!
And, enjoy the rest of your Friday!

7/6/2011

Updated Linux-based Disk Imaging

Filed under: Career Archive,Geek Work,Linux — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:53 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I’m always looking for short-cuts.

No, seriously, there’s only one of me and my time is in HUGE demand, especially at the office.  So, I’m always looking for ways to automate stuff so I don’t have to do it myself.  Back in 2008, I cobbled together an imaging system that relied on Linux and a whole lot of personal documentation.  (You can read that, in two parts, here and here.)  It worked pretty well and I was pretty damn proud of myself for both figuring it out and saving me a whole lot of time doing each individual install of a machine.

Well, recently, we’ve started upgrading our engineers and draftsmen to the latest version of AutoCAD and Windows 7.
Naturally, Windows 7 uses disks in a totally different way than Windows XP, so all that work I did is now pretty much useless.  Which, frankly, is par for the course in our line of work.  IT is always changing, so we have to adapt, whether we like it or not.  In this case, I don’t mind so much.  Why?  Because Clonezilla pretty much does everything that I was doing by hand, only it does it almost automagically.  Just to be clear, I’m using the Clonezilla Live version and saving the images to my server.  Now that I’ve upgraded the storage capacity to a little over 4 terabytes, I’m not so worried about saving images there.  Especially because I still have most of the office convinced we only have a single terabyte of storage and that they need to keep their directories on the server lean.  It doesn’t help much, but it’s enough.

Seriously, if you have to image machines, go check out Clonezilla.  It works and, best of all, it’s FREE!
(Also?  It’s pretty damn fast on my network, which is a huge bonus!)

7/2/2011

Inspiration, Motivation and Synchronicity

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is mid-morning or 10:05 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Can I call myself a writer, if I’m not writing?

Long-time readers of this blog will remember the days that I used to post virtually every day.  That was, it seems, a very long time ago.  That was before I got divorced and before I almost killed myself through self-neglect.  It was also before I met and dated a dear, sweet woman who will always have a special place in my heart and before I bought my camera.
I couldn’t tell you why I used to write so much and why I don’t now.  I only know that something changed.  Some elusive thing changed, escaped me, slipped from my grasp.  Maybe it was a lack of motivation.  Maybe it was that everything seemed so hollow and pointless after spending a year doing the horizontal mambo with Death that any words I might spit on the page seemed like a waste of my time and yours, dear readers.  Maybe it was a lack of what every “wanna’ be” writer thinks will get them off their lazy butts and in front of a keyboard; inspiration.
I honestly don’t know.  But, I’ve felt the itch again.  I’ve felt the urge to chew up a bit of whitespace on the Internet and spit out the stuff that makes me choke.  I’ve also discovered Tumblr.  Yes, another blogging platform.  And, yes, I’m sure I won’t stay there long, because this is my blogging home, but until then, I have found my little slice of Tumblr oddly inspirational.  I suppose it has to do with thinking differently about how I do what I do, but all that really matters is that it’s gotten me writing again.

The other thing, I think, that compels me is the fact that I’ll be 43 this year.
Something changes again when a man feels the fetid, stinking breath of middle-age on the back of his neck and realizes that he has achieved less than the lofty goals he set for himself at 18.  Granted, many great artists of various kinds have come into their own only after having turned fifty, and, given my family’s record of longevity, I probably have another good 45 years or more of intelligent, intelligible output left in me, but, still, not having produced even a single work of long-form fiction nags at me.  You see, as good as I have gotten at extemporaneous non-fiction, thanks in no small part to this blog, I seem to have almost completely lost the knack of producing fiction.  And, trust me, as someone who worships the great storytellers of literature, I find that disappointing, to say the least.
It does not help, either, that many of my literary heroes are, in fact, dead.  Most of them, unfortunately, died before they were 50.  And, almost all of them, produced their greatest work before they were 40.
When I was younger, I tried to emulate those writers in many ways.  Unfortunately for me, one of the writers who’s work I respected the most was Ernest Hemingway.  Now, don’t think that means I purposely drank hard for years, because I didn’t.  Oh, I drank pretty hard, but not in conscious imitation of Hemingway.  And, certainly, I haven’t run through wives the way he did!  What’s more, I’m pretty sure I haven’t achieved his level of misogyny.  (In fact, I recently checked with several female friends on just that subject for reasons inappropriate to go into here and they all assured me that, whatever my character flaws may be, misogyny of any kind, much less at the level of “Papa” Hemingway, was not one of them.)  Nor, I hope you will be pleased to learn, do I plan to commit suicide via shotgun at 50 the way he did.  For one thing, I know pretty much everyone who might find the body and I like them, so I won’t subject them to that.  For another, I neither plan to give my detractors the satisfaction of my untimely death nor do I own a shotgun.

Now, you may ask why, in a post about inspiration and motivation, I would dwell on Hemingway’s death.  Good question.
You see, last night, I queued up a quote from Hemingway on that Tumblr I recently started.  By the time you read this post, in fact, it should be up, so feel free to pause for a moment and go read it.  It’s one of my favorites.
The thing is, though, this morning, I got my regular e-mail from the Writer’s Almanac, which lists today’s literary events of historic note.  Today, as it turns out, in a weird bit of synchronicity, is the anniversary of the day when Hemingway, suffering from cancer, did himself in with his trusty, manly shotgun.  Killing himself as he might have killed one of his heroically tragic characters.
What does that have to do with the price of tea in China, or anywhere else?
It’s a reminder.  A reminder of how many times I have almost given up.  A reminder of how many times I have, in true Hemingway hero fashion, faced death, or, worse, my own internal demons, and, rather than giving up or giving in, set my jaw, dug into the mud and just kept plowing forward.

You see, I forget, sometimes, who I am.
I forget that there is more to me than who I see reflected in the vision of others.  In my own insecurity, I forget how strong I can be.  I forget that love is the answer to all my problems.  Not being hard and tough, like I think Hemingway thought men, especially himself, should be.  I forget that it takes great strength of character to care, and I do care, about so many things and so many people.  I forget that what I see as my weakness is, in fact, my strength.  I forget that I have gotten up, as the saying goes, one more time than I have been knocked down.
And, so, as I imagine many of my dead heroes have done, I do my best to set aside doubt and fear and the perceived  judgement of others and do what I was taught as a child; I simply am trying again.  Trying to learn from the mistakes and failures of my past, not forgetting them, but not letting them get in my way, either.
And, as you can see, if you’ve stuck with me this far, I’m starting to write again.

 


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"After a time, you may find that 'having' is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as 'wanting.' It is not logical, but it is often true."
   --Spock, "Amok Time," stardate 3372.7..

7/1/2011

Out of Gas

Filed under: Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:06 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

How far can you get on a tank of gas?

You know that when the little, red light showing that you’re out of gas on your car comes on, you have a couple miles before your car dies, right?  Oh, well, I know none of my readers have ever let their tank get down that far, but, you know, theoretically.   But, how far can you get?
Personally, I try never to get lower than 1/4 tank before I’m pointed at a gas station, but, well, with it being payday today, it occurred to me that, sometimes, people don’t have a choice!  As cash-strapped as I’ve been over the years, sometimes, I’ve had to think about whether or not to drive someone and spend money on the gas.  Thankfully, that’s not quite so true any more, but, I do worry about adding in some padding to my budget to allow for suddenly inflated gas prices.

Still, it is an interesting question, isn’t it?
When you’re down to that last little drop of gas, how far can you get before refueling?
Ponder no more!  Instead, go to Tank On Empty, find your car, and find out.  Or, at least, find out a fairly good estimate.  And, of course, if you are one of those people who like to, or have to, push their luck, add your results to the site to help others!
(If you’re interested in specifics, check out how far a gas guzzler, the Crown Victoria, like I’m currently driving, does!)


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