Diary of a Network Geek

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

11/30/2012

PriorityDigital Free Utilities

Filed under: Geek Work,Red Herrings,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:50 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I don’t know about you, but I love free stuff.

I do a lot of stuff on the web every day.  Yeah, I know you can’t tell that from how neglected this blog is these days, especially compared to the old days when I was posting pretty much every day, but, trust me, I’m always buzzing around the web doing something.  Sometimes, it’s building websites like this one.  Not very pretty, but pretty functional and sometimes, not even sites for me.  When I build a site, I generally leave it to the owners to come up with the actual content and just help them get the framework setup, including all the legalese that seems to be pretty much de rigueur these days.
Well, now, thanks to PriorityDigital.com, I think I have a slightly better solution.  They have a page of free utilities that include a Privacy Policy Builder, a Disclaimer Builder and a Non-Disclosure Agreement Maker, among others.  So now, you, or I, can go to these utilities and fill in a few relevant details and quickly get a fairly generic, but still useful, privacy policy, general website disclaimer or non-disclosure agreement without having to pay a lawyer!  Granted, they are pretty generic, but, still, for most of us, they’ll handily take care of our needs.

So, okay, yeah, kind of lame for a Friday, but, still it might give you a little something extra for your side project this weekend.
Enjoy!

11/23/2012

Rules for Writing

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Fiction,Fun,NaNoWriMo,Red Herrings,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 4:51 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

The first rule is to WRITE!

No, seriously, in honor of NaNoWriMo, I thought I’d link to things about writing and inspiration this month and, even though, I’m no great fan of rules, especially about writing, some people are.  So, with that in mind, I thought I’d share the Guardian’s Ten Rules for Writing Fiction.
They asked several authors, some of whom I am more familiar than others, and got each of them to list their “10 Rules for Writing”.  Some are funny, and some are a little too truthful, but one of them may help you break out of writer’s block, or just whatever writing rut you may have worked yourself into this month.
My favorite of the bunch, outside of all ten of Leonard Elmore’s rules, is “The way to write a book is to actually write a book. A pen is useful, typing is also good. Keep putting words on the page.”  That comes from Anne Enright, who I confess I have not heard of before, but who is entire correct.
So, get back to writing, okay?

Well, get back to writing after you click the link and read the other rules they have there.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Never tell your girlfriend that her diet's not working."

11/16/2012

Generate Story Ideas

Filed under: Art,Fun,NaNoWriMo,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Are you stuck for ideas?

It may be a little late for those people attempting NaNoWriMo this month, but it’s never too late for the rest of us to come up with some great story ideas.
IO9 gave these as “10 Tips for Generating Killer Science Fiction Story Ideas“, but some of them are just interesting ways to bump up some conflict and aren’t limited to science-fiction at all.  Here’s the short list of them, before I go into details on a couple:

  1. Look at the big unanswered questions
  2. Imagine a new scientific or technological discovery — and then imagine it ruining your life
  3. Take your biggest fear about the future and take it to an extreme
  4. Instead of speculating about science, try sociology or philosophy or theology
  5. Think of an act you would never approve of, then imagine a sympathetic character doing that act
  6. Why can’t you just go and get what you want, in real life?
  7. Get into a fight with a famous science fiction author
  8. State the obvious
  9. Come up with five non-obvious consequences of a technological or scientific breakthrough, and focus on one of them
  10. Think about something you used to believe, and then imagine what if it was true

Now, first, a quick note about Number 7 there.  Don’t go hit a famous author!  What they mean, is decide how wrong one is and write your story to disprove the conclusions they made (*cough* Ayn Rand *cough*).
But, look at that list.  The article on IO9.com is focused on killer science-fiction ideas because they’re a science-fiction website, but, outside of Numbers 2 and 9, really, you could take out the sci-fi element and still have a good story.

Yes, even Number 3, “Take your biggest fear about the future and take it to an extreme” can make compelling fiction in pretty much any genre, including literary fiction, if you handle it right.  And, if you’re stuck, maybe it’s time to try writing outside your normal genre anyway.  I mean, what if that’s the whole problem in the first place, right?

So, whether you’re doing NaNoWriMo or not, these are great ways to generate ideas for stories.
And, either way, it’s Friday and you’re clearly slacking if you’re reading this, so you might as well click that link up there and have some fun.
Happy weekend and happy writing!

11/9/2012

Creative Generators

Filed under: Art,Fun,PERL,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:20 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

So, in keeping with the theme this month of NaNoWriMo, I bring you creative time-wasters!

Okay, so maybe I call them “helpful utilities” when I use them, but, still…
Back in the day, I was much more of a Renaissance man that I am now.  I dabbled in all kinds of things not least of which was either writing or programming.  And, I tend to live by the dictum that one cannot really learn anything worthwhile without a project or goal.  When you combine those things, well, you get some interesting projects.
The first programming language of any real weight I taught myself was Perl.  Perl has sometimes been called the duct tape of the internet, because so many system administrators use it to keep old, clanky systems running.  That was also the reason I learned it, because I often found myself maintaining old, clanky systems!  But, mostly, I used it for my various webpages.  Then, of course, came WordPress which ran on a fancy new language called PHP.  Naturally, I set about teaching myself PHP.

Well, the projects I used were random generators, primarily to help people who were writing and needed a little help.  One of my earliest was a little tool, originally inspired by shareware, that let you randomly come up with what might be in fantasy character’s pockets.  If memory serves, the shareware program was developed as a utility for Dungeon Masters in AD&D campaigns that had a lot of thieves who were always wanting to pick the pockets of townsfolk!  But, it was fun and useful as an exercise.  You can find that one here: Fantasy Pocket “Litter” Generator.
Recently, after adapting that to the new PHP language I was mentioning, I got the idea to extend that idea to a more modern setting and came up with the Random Daily Carry Generator.  So, instead of having magic frying pans and enchanted daggers, a character may have an encrypted USB drive and a loaded Glock 21.  Just the thing to fill the pockets of random story characters, as needed!  Also, this one is still under development a bit, so as I think of things, I’m adding them in.  Visit often for new stuff!

And, of course, all those things and more can be found at my old World-Building page at my almost defunct writing site; Fantasist.net.
So, if you’ve hit that first week stumbling block on your NaNoWriMo project, go check these pages out and see if anything helps.  But, most of all, have fun!

11/2/2012

Opensource Writing Tool

Filed under: Art,Fun,GUI Center,Linux,MicroSoft,NaNoWriMo,The Network Geek at Home — 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 Gibbous

In honor of the first Friday of NaNoWriMo, I’m bringing you a free writing tool and not from my usual main site.

This week, I’m originating my regular Friday Fun Post from JKHoffman.com, where I hope to move most of my more creative work, instead of my regular Diary of a Network Geek.
If you’ve given serious thought to writing, you have probably heard of both National Novel Writing Month, AKA NaNoWriMo, and a writer’s program called Scrivener.  Personally, I’ve done most…
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