Diary of a Network Geek

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

6/10/2016

Lunch Read

Filed under: Fun,Marginalia and Notes from the Editor,The Infinite Library — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

More self-education at lunch.

This is a little less work oriented than last week and certainly less technical, but it’s still the same idea. It’s an email newsletter, which seem to be gaining a bit in popularity again.  In this case, it’s a curated email, sent weekly, filled with content that the site owners claim will broaden your perspective called The Lunch Read.  I don’t know about that, but it does have videos, articles and music that you might not have heard yet, all sent to you, regularly.  You can read more about it at About: The Lunch Read.  And, if you’re not quite sold yet, even though it’s free, you can see recent past newsletters they’ve sent out at The Lunch Read Leftovers.  Judging from that content, it’s not a bad newsletter.

Besides, it’s Friday, and if  you’re reading this, you’re not working anyway.  Might as well sign up and see what it’s all about!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.

6/3/2016

SysAdmin Screencasts

Filed under: Fun,Geek Work,Never trust a Network Admin with a screwdriver,The Day Job,The Tools — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Not my usual Friday Fun, but great for system administrators trying to get ahead.

And, not too bad for power users trying to figure out some of what the professional system administrators are talking about when they’re trying to talk over your head.
What I’ve got for you this week, gentle readers, are “bite-sized” system administrator screencasts.  What that translates to are relatively short screencasts, usually 20 minutes or less, on professional computing topics ranging from using Ansible to implementing Docker to writing incident reports to project planning.  So, pretty much, a series of short, hyper-focused courses that you can sneak in during your lunch hour at your desk.  How awesome is that?

Okay, so only awesome if you’re a professional computer geek like me, but, still, if you are, it’s pretty awesome.  Also?  Free.  So, yeah, free professional development you can squeak in on your lunch hour.  All in all, not a bad deal.
But, hey, it’s Friday, so bookmark that and start your self-education program on Monday, okay?

5/27/2016

Remember the Galactic Warfighters

Filed under: Art,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Photography — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:16 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

So, with Memorial Day coming up, I was sort of thinking in a military mode this week for a link to share.

Some time back, I saw an article about Matthew Callahan on IO9.com.  Mr. Callahan is a combat correspondent with the U. S. Marines, and you can see some of his combat photography at that first link.  I know Memorial Day is meant to remind us of those who gave their lives in military service so that we can enjoy our freedom, but I still like to thank those who served and are still serving, too.  I can’t imagine what Mr. Callahan has seen, and possibly photographed, in combat and I respect him for what he does for a living.  It’s hard enough to be a photographer, but I can’t imagine how hard it is to take photos while getting shot at and wearing full battle rattle.
But, all that aside, what I really want to share is his side project, Galactic Warfighters.  Mr. Callahan uses his experience and expertise gained from actual combat photography to create the most incredible and imaginative tableaus of science-fiction combat using Star Wars figures that you’ve ever seen.  Seriously, this is art at a level you rarely get to see.  Go, look.  You’ll be stunned at the level of realism he gets with his little toys and some know-how.

And, this weekend, don’t forget those who serve, who served and who paid the ultimate price for our way of life.

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.

5/20/2016

Science Fiction Short Films

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Also, they’re free.

In 2015, Sploid, a sub-site of Gizmodo, had a short film festival. Just to be clear, that’s a festival of short films. There were 21 films, many of which include some actors you may recognize. All the films were creative and, frankly, pretty amazing.
And, let’s face it, it’s Friday and you’re reading this blog, which means you weren’t doing any actual work anyway, so you might as well head over to YouTube and watch all of them. They are, after all, short films, so it won’t take too terribly long.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for you this week, because I’ve been a bit sick and didn’t have a chance to get anything better together.
But, I think this will be good enough.
Enjoy, and I’ll see you back here next week!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.

5/13/2016

Another Friday The Thirteenth

Filed under: Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

At least once a year, when it rolls around, I try to write about Friday the Thirteenth.

And, actually, I try not to write about it more than once per year, but, sometimes, I get stuck for a creative idea and I admit that I recycle the post.  Kind of like I’m doing right this week.
Back in the old days, before the internet or Google or I was always searching for words to fill the void on my blog, I used to assume that Friday the Thirteenth was considered unlucky due to some Biblical association.  It’s not a big stretch, really, since so many superstitions seem to tie back to some obscure custom related to religion. Personally, I assumed it had something to do with Judas being the Thirteenth Apostle or some other Apocalypse-related numerology that I hadn’t bothered to dig into before. But, I’ve since found out that nothing could be further from the truth. Apparently, Friday the Thirteenth is considered unlucky because of its association with the plot to suppress the Knights Templar, according to this article on GlobalPsychics.com. No, seriously! And, I quote:

The modern basis for the Friday the 13th superstition stems from Friday October the 13th, 1307. On this date, the Pope of the church in Rome in Conjunction with the King of France, carried out a secret death warrant against “the Knights Templar”. The Templars were terminated as heretics, never again to hold the power that they had held for so long. There Grand Master, Jacques DeMolay, was arrested and before he was killed, was tortured and crucified. A Black Friday indeed!

So, there you have it, Friday the Thirteenth is a global conspiracy, though, for a nice twist, the Knights Templar or Freemasons aren’t behind it, but, rather, the victims of it! Which I appreciate, incidentally, because I am both a Freemason and, via another Masonic body, a Knight Templar, ironically.  Although, to be fair, that same web page I link to there also goes into the fact that 13 is generally considered unlucky due to the number of people at the Last Supper being, you guessed it, thirteen.  But, aside from the number, which is considered unlucky in a lot of ways, it’s the association with the suppression of the Templars, which happened on a Friday, that makes the day unlucky historically.
Personally, I usually have better luck on Friday the Thirteenth, but, then, I always have been a little out of step with the world.  Besides, I’m not a very superstitious person, so I generally don’t buy into most of this nonsense.
Oh, and if you’re not buying the Templar story, here’s a link to some alternate ideas why everyone else is afraid of Friday the Thirteenth.

 

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

5/6/2016

MFA Quality Ideas

Filed under: Fun,Stimulus and Production,The Tools,Uncategorized — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

Well, maybe not quite, but, still, writing ideas.

I know my posts probably seem a little random these days, but that’s because I have a lot going on.  For instance, I’m trying to adjust my personal schedule to get up early enough that I can spend a little time writing in the morning before going to my day job.  If, and this apparently is a big if, I could get up just a few minutes earlier, I should be able to squeeze in as much as 45 minutes of writing.  One day.
Of course, the other half of that is writer’s block.  Which, honestly, I don’t have, really.  What I have is fear combined with a lack of practice and strong enough desire.  Unfortunately, it’s not a new problem.  One way I’ve tried to combat that over the years has been writing exercises.  And, since I’ve tried so many over the years, a lot of them get stale after a bit, which leads me to favor the random idea generators or random plot generators.
Since it’s Friday, I thought I’d share my most recent discovery; the DIY MFA Writer Igniter. It gives you a randomly selected character, plot, prop and setting to, hopefully, inspire you to write.  Give it a try!

And, while you’re on the site, check out their other features, too.  Some of the articles are pretty good.
Either way, enjoy your weekend!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.

4/29/2016

Evernote IT Documentation Templates

Filed under: Fun,Geek Work,Never trust a Network Admin with a screwdriver,Red Herrings,The Day Job,The Tools — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Prepare yourself for some high-intensity geekery!

No, seriously.
So, I’ve been contracting somewhere that has virtually no network documentation and what little they did have got destroyed in a catastrophic event.  For privacy and security, not to mention client confidentiality, I won’t go into details on that.  But, as a result, one of the things I’ve been doing is rediscovering their network and documenting it as fully as possible.  For that, I’ve been searching out and using various templates.
Also, in a seemingly unrelated course of events, I’ve recently started using Evernote as part of my Getting Things Done revival.  I’ve been re-reading Getting Things Done, originally in preparation for starting a new job, and trying to get it going again in all areas of my life to better manage my time and efforts.  My wife raved about both GTD and Evernote, so I splurged and bought the $10 document from David Allen’s web store on setting up Evernote so that it was optimized for GTD.  It was some of the best money I’ve spent in a long, long time.  This combination is so completely awesome!

But, what’s even more awesome is the power of Evernote templates.  Their templates are really just a blank document that’s formatted in a particular way that serves as a starting point for a regular note style that you make over and over again.  They’ve written up a whole article on it; How-to: Save Time with Templates.  If you’re working with Evernote, it’s definitely worth the time and trouble.  My personal template library is hitting 59 items right now, but I’m sure there will be more.
And, that, finally, leads me to my Friday Freebie; EvernoteITDocumentationTemplates. These are a collection of six templates, so far, that I’ve munged together to let you more easily record the basic information an IT professional might need to capture about devices on their network.  I have no doubt there will eventually be more.  In any case, go ahead and download these and enjoy them.
To get those into your personal Evernote, check out their article How to Backup and Restore Notes and Notebooks.  It’s got step-by-step instructions there for getting started.
Good luck and enjoy!

4/22/2016

Curing JetLag

Filed under: Personal Care,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Well, more like mitigating jetlag by controlling one of it’s causes.

Mostly, we think of jetlag as being caused by lack of sleep or a disrupted sleep cycle.  And, there certainly is validity to that, but it’s not the only cause.  It’s also brought on because travel messes up our eating schedule.  That, in turn, aggravates all the other effects of travel.  The way to beat it, according to Jessica Coen of FlyGirl, a Gawker Media site dedicated to travel, is to fast for roughly 12-16 hours before what should be the normal breakfast time at your final destination.  With long distances and time-zones, calculating that can get complicated.  Luckily, they made a handy, web-based, calculator to help you figure it all out.  Just type in your starting city, click the arrow and then type in your destination city and click the next arrow and the FlyGirl Anti-JetLag Calculator will tell you when to stop eating at your departure point and start eating again at your arrival point.

At least, that’s the theory.  Since I don’t really travel much these days, I haven’t tested it.

Also, as a side note, I’m testing a new bit of programming for the blog this week to help the search engines sort out where my writing originated from and where it’s ended up.  It’s important only to Google, so you can mostly ignore it.
Have a great weekend!

4/15/2016

Security In A Box

Filed under: Geek Work,Red Herrings,The Dark Side,The Tools — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

First of all, you should know I’m talking about computer security, not home security.

Secondly, know that “in a box” really means something more like “all in one place”.
I’m suggesting this site this week because security is on my mind.  Not only in a corporate sense, but in a personal sense.  In a professional setting, I’ve brushed up against something that could conceivably heighten scrutiny of my own personal foot-print on the internet.  And, I’ve had a particular address from a particular Eastern European country banging against on of my WordPress installations pretty hard this past week.  All of which added up to me checking my collected links for a security themed site I could share with you all.
The site is called Security In A Box and it’s a collection of tips, advice and links to programs meant to help keep you safe on the internet.  Their advice covers everything from creating good passwords to staying safe on social media.  And, they have group-specific suggestions for special interest groups who might have an additional level of scrutiny, either by other special interest groups or governments.  It’s quite a good site for everyone, of course, but of special interest to anyone who might find themselves at the sharp end of one of the many sharpened sticks running loose on the internet without keepers.

So, stay safe this weekend and enjoy the lovely weather while it lasts!

4/8/2016

Free Network Mapping Tools

Filed under: Geek Work,The Tools — 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 Waxing Crescent

This may not be a post for my regular readers.

So, I’ve been contracting for two weeks now and there’s a ton of work to do.
For those of you who know me, and know how I tend to approach what I do, one of my main goals is to get good documentation.  If you look at my resume, you know that I have changed jobs a lot.  And with every change has come a new, mostly-undocumented network for me to discover and, hopefully, improve.  As a result, I’ve used a bewildering array of network mapping and scanning tools.  Dark Reading has a list of free and low-cost network mapping tools, many of which I’ve used.  Since they review them all, I’ll only comment on the ones I’ve actually used and found useful.
First, there’s the venerable nmap.  Nmap has been around for a while and most of the more hardcore geeks, like me, have used it.  (And, yes, there is a Windows version of it, if you really want to use that.)  It’s probably one of the most complete, and oldest, tools on this list.  Though it’s more of a security finger-printing tool than a mapping tool in the sense that most of us mean.  Still, a security tool old enough and good enough to actually be used on-screen in The Matrix is pretty okay with me.
For simple listing of the IP addresses and hosts on a network, I really like Overlook Fing.  It’s pretty basic and actually command-line based with a Windows launching text interface to configure it.  The output is pretty basic, but you can quickly dump a list of device names and IP addresses, with probable manufacturer information to help identify the machines.  Also, they seem to have added a paid service that monitors your network and alerts you to changes, which seems interesting, but I’m usually on a budget, so I’ll stick with the free option.
If you want a nicer interface and more Windows-optimized IP network scanner, try Advanced IP Scanner.  Again, it’s pretty basic and simple, but it’s also free and super easy to use.  And, starting with at least a list of IP addresses with host names may be more documentation than a lot of new network administrators start with when they take over a network.
And, then there’s Spiceworks, which most folks think of as a helpdesk ticketing system, but actually has some fantastic network management and mapping tools built into it, too.  In fact, I initially installed it at my last full-time gig to keep track of all the user requests I was getting, but really ended up loving it for the reporting tools and ability to track machines on the network.  It’s free, and takes a little bit of work to get setup right for pulling in all the details of your network, but it’s totally worth it.  The user support forums are great and there are a lot of tools and custom reports being added for it all the time.  If you hunt a bit, you can find pretty much every answer to your question on the user forums.  I even found a way to automate emailing the weekly reports to everyone in IT and management.

One tool that Dark Reading does not mention that I find useful is Network Notepad.  Again, a free tool, but with a paid option.  The free tool, which is all I’ve used, is great for making an actual graphic map of your network. It takes a little getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, this is a pretty valuable tool.  For instance, if you add the IP address to the host on the map, you can ping or RDP right from the network map to the device.  In fact, I liked it so well, I whipped together an object library, using someone else’s free 3D icons, that I’ve attached to the bottom of this post.  So, enjoy that and enjoy your weekend!

3DNetworkObjectLibrary

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