Diary of a Network Geek

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

2/14/2014

Creative Lists

Filed under: Art,Fun,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:35 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

This is not a new idea.

But, then, I remember hearing when I was in high school that there are no new ideas under the Sun, only new ways to implement them.  And, remember, every story you tell, is uniquely your own.  So, the age-old question about creative ideas, right?  Where do they come from?  The answer I got was that they come in a plain, brown wrapper from Schenectady.  (That was from Frank Herbert, author of Dune, via a phone…
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12/12/2013

Another Year Older…

Filed under: Personal,Red Herrings — 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 Gibbous

..And deeper in debt!

So, it’s my birthday again. It seems like they just keep coming, like an on-rushing train in that proverbial tunnel where the light isn’t quite what we think it will be when it arrives. Honestly, it seems kind of impossible to me that I’m still chugging along, but, according to the actuarial tables, I should expect about another 30-odd years of life. Which is a good thing because, in spite of being statistically middle-aged, I come from…
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5/31/2013

Writerly Advice

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:16 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

There is no shortage of advice for writers.

And, honestly, the advice you like least is probably the best for you.  Why do I say that?  Because the advice that rankles you the most is probably digging at the precise issue that you have as a writer and are trying to ignore.  Or, is that just my Freudian slip showing?
I hate to admit it, but I fall into the classic traps of wanna-be fiction writer all the time.  My biggest failing? …
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4/12/2013

Light Painting

Filed under: Art,Fun,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:58 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Cool light techniques.

I love doing tricky things in camera.
Look, I work with software all day long at my regular gig, so when I get home, I don’t really want to spend hours and hours working with Photoshop to make a “photograph”.  To me, the whole point is to make photographs with the camera, not with software.  I know, it probably makes me an antique, but, well, there it is.
I’ve done some work with light painting, though, thanks to my tragic…
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12/12/2012

Another Birthday

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life Goals,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:09 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

So, today marks another lap around the Sun for me.

Honestly, I don’t hang a lot on birthdays, especially my own.  I mean, for the most part, they’re just another day.  Another marker of many in my life and, frankly, a rather arbitrary one at that.  I’m more impressed with the fact that I’ve paid a third of my mortgage than that I’m turning 44 today.  Of course, the fact that I’ve made it this far is actually sort of an…
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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!

12/12/2011

Another Lap

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:18 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

So, today marks another lap around the Sun for me.

Honestly, it was more or less just another day today, except that it happened to be the anniversary of the day of my birth.
I had nothing special planned and, as far as I know, angels did not weep audibly with joy to know that I had navigated another year.  Of course, the fact that I’ve made it this far is actually sort of an accomplishment, I think.  There are many who haven’t, and, God knows, I’ve had my share of near misses.  But, it’s not altogether unusual, either.  In fact, according to the actuarial tables, I should expect about another 35 years. *sigh*  Which means I’m officially “middle aged”.  (If any of my younger, female readers are interested in a cheap, empty, meaningless fling, by the way, I’m pretty sure I’m entitled to my mid-life crisis now.  In case you were wondering.)

For the most part, this has been a pretty unremarkable year, which is, actually, good.
No major emotional upheavals, no catastrophic medical drama.  Financially, I could have done better, but, then, I could have done far, far worse, too.  Several sections of my car are new, though the rest is pretty old, but feel that’s balanced by my new camera.  Actually, come to think of it, I may have more invested in camera gear than I do in my car!
Still not dating and still a little heavier than I’d like, but I don’t feel particularly lonely or unhealthy, as the case may be.
So, nothing particularly interesting to cheer about or complain about this year, which suits me just fine.
Of course, I do have a few bits of mischief planned or in the works for the coming year.  So, who knows?  Maybe next year will be more exciting than I can imagine to make up for how relatively smoothly this year has been!

And, of course, my birthday wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention all the other famous people who had the good luck to be born on this particular day. Famous people like Frank “Chairman of the Board” Sinatra, Jennifer Connelly, Bob Barker, Gustave Flaubert, who is the author of Madame Bovary, the painter Edvard Munch, and Wells Fargo founder, Henry Wells. Not to mention, Mike Pinder of the Moody Blues, Tim Hauser of Manhattan Transfer, Dickey Betts of the Allman Bros, jazz musician Grover Washington Jr, and former mayor of New York City, Ed Koch.
All heady company to be sure, but for whatever reason, it tickles me the most that I share a birthday with Frank Sinatra. I guess it’s because he was such a unique and original character who really fought against and beat some long odds to become an amazingly famous, generally well thought of character. I can only hope to do the same, one day.
Also, I think it’s interesting to note that on this day in 1896 Marconi first demoed radio and, again on this day, in 1901 made his first Trans-Atlantic transmission.  (Though, of course, all right-thinking people know that Tesla was really responsible for those first advances in radio.)

So, I don’t know for sure what the coming year will bring, but I hope I’ll be in a different place than I am today.
Which is, of course, more or less what I said last year! But, this year, truly, I have no idea where I’ll end up going or doing.  I have few attachments or real responsibilities to hold me back or down, outside of those in my own head, so the field is pretty much wide open.  I’ve all but given up setting goals out load, on paper or via this blog, but I do have a few things I’d like to accomplish in the coming year, though I’ll be keeping those to myself, for now.  I really don’t know where the coming year will take me, but I’m sure it will be to places, inside and out, that I never would have suspected possible a year ago.
And, for that, I’m very thankful!
(And, yes, I am aware that the world is supposed to end next year, quite possibly on my birthday.  And, wouldn’t it be interesting if it did?!)

8/19/2011

Alexandria

Filed under: Art,Fun,Linux,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:01 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

No, not some new chick I’m dating.

Sadly, it’s Linux software.   Okay, well, not so sad, because it’s Linux-based software to help you track your personal library.
Yeah, yeah, I know, what kind of geek has a personal library that’s worth cataloging, right?  Yeah, well, as it turns out, me.  I probably have a couple thousand books of one kind or another spread all over my house.  I’m pretty sure virtually every room in my house has a stack of books in it, if not a full bookshelf.  And, yes, I do lend quite a few books and they sometimes go missing.  And, yes, I have so many books, I have, on very rare occasions, bought the same book twice.  And, finally, yes, I’ve been talking about doing this for years, but this software actually looks like something I might use.  Besides, it’s free.

Among the features are the ability to search by ISBN, author, title or keyword so you can find just the book you’re thinking of in your collection; the ability to retrieve information from on-line bookstores and other sources; and the ability to use several different scanners, including the CueCat, for data input.  (You can read more about the features here at the Alexandria FAQ.)  There is more information, including a manual and screen shots at the Alexandria homepage.

So, yeah, a little geekier than my usual Friday Fun post, but it’ll probably excite the librarians among my readers.
(And, I really hope there are some sexy librarians who still read this blog!)
Enjoy your weekend!

12/12/2010

A Tattoo Old Enough To Drink

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:38 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

My first tattoo is officially old enough to drink today.

I got my first tattoo on my twenty-first birthday, twenty-one years ago, today.  It was Finals Week and I had a final exam the next morning, so I couldn’t do the traditional round of drinking myself unconscious.  Besides, that really wasn’t my style even then.  So, instead, I marked the day my own way.  I’d wanted a tattoo for a long time, longer, in fact, than I could remember.  And, somehow, I’d gotten it in my head that having a tattoo would make me tough, or at least, make me seem tougher.  I’m not sure that it did, especially considering that I hid it from my family for another six months.  Not very manly behavior, is it, being too scared to show off my big, tough, tattoo?

But, that’s who I was, twenty-one years ago.
I was a kid who was getting close to graduation, but didn’t know who he was.  That feeling of not being enough, not knowing enough, not having enough direction, would send me rushing headlong through life at break-neck speed, never slowing down enough to appreciate what I was seeing, or hearing or doing.  It led me to do many things that, in retrospect, I’m not particularly proud of having done.  Choices I would sometimes rahter I had not made.  I don’t regret the tattoo, though, only the original motivation that led me to get it.
I’m not really that man today.

Twenty-one years is a lifetime.
Time enough to change.  Since getting that tattoo, I’ve cheated death, more than once, and I don’t just mean the cancer three years ago.  I’ve faced a number of reversals of fortune, both in my favor and not.  But, I think, more importantly, is that I’ve learned I’m not my circumstances.  Who I am and how I am are both defined by the choices I make.
Today, though, I make much better choices than I did twenty-one years ago.  Not always, but, mostly.

And, of course, my birthday wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention all the other famous people who had the good luck to be born on this particular day. Famous people like Frank “Chairman of the Board” Sinatra, Jennifer Connelly, Bob Barker, Gustave Flaubert, author of Madame Bovary, Edvard Munch, and Wells Fargo founder, Henry Wells. Not to mention, Mike Pinder of the Moody Blues, Tim Hauser of Manhattan Transfer, Dickey Betts of the Allman Bros, jazz musician Grover Washington Jr, and former mayor of New York City, Ed Koch.
All heady company to be sure, but for whatever reason, it tickles me the most that I share a birthday with Frank Sinatra. I guess it’s because he was such a unique and original character who really fought against and beat some long odds to become an amazingly famous, generally well thought of character. I can only hope to do the same, one day.

So, I don’t know what the coming year will bring, but I know I’ll be in a different place than I am today.
Which is, of course, what I said last year!  But, this year, right now, it feels like things are changing and about to change far more than I thought possible last year.  I don’t know where the coming year will take me, but I’m sure it will be to places, inside and out, that I never would have suspected possible a year ago.
And, for that, I’m very thankful!


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Between saying and doing many a pair of shoes is worn out."
   --Italian Proverb

10/8/2010

Microsoft Security Book…

Filed under: Art,Fun,MicroSoft,The Dark Side,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:32 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

…for teens?

Okay, so according to LifeHacker, Microsoft has released an on-line book about internet safety and security aimed at kids and teens.  It’s called “Own Your Space – Keep Yourself and Your Stuff Safe Online“.  No, seriously.  They describe it as a way to “…[h]elp teens ‘own their space’ online.”  Apparently, also meant for adults to help their “tweens” and teens “… keep up with the latest computer and online safety issues and help kids learn to avoid them.”  The book was written in “partnership” with security expert and author Linda McCarthy, who I honestly have never heard of before.

So, it’s hard to argue with the alleged intent behind this free, downloadable book, but I’m wary of anything from Microsoft that claims to be related to “security”.  On the other hand, what little I actually saw of the book was okay and had fun illustrations, so it may not be all bad.  I mean, at least it’s a starting point for parents to talk to their kids about on-line safety and security.  But, Microsoft has a long way to go to make up for Internet Explorer and holes it created in so many systems over the years.

In any case, it’s a fun looking book and you’re obviously not doing anything important or you wouldn’t be here reading my blog this Friday, so why not check it out for yourself?


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