Diary of a Network Geek

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

4/7/2017

Blog Posts

Filed under: Better Living Through Technology,Fun,Geek Work,On Creativity,Stimulus and Production — 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

My creative blog posting well is dry.

So dry.
Seriously, if you count my original blog, I have been doing this blogging nonsense for almost 17 years. My first blog post went live May 4th, 2000. How crazy is that?  Back then, I hand coded every page, making the HTML myself with Microsoft Notepad.  Then, I installed Moveable Type.  That was followed by a definite upgrade to WordPress during the great licensing debacle of 2004.  So, yes, I’ve been using WordPress since version 1.2  A lot has changed since then, but I can tell you one thing that hasn’t; the terrible struggle to create new and interesting content.
My wife, The Organizing Decorator, and I were talking about this very thing recently.  She just finished moving her site to her own hosting and content management system, so that I wasn’t responsible for her site as well as all of mine, and she told me how she need to stop tweaking and tampering with it.  My response was that it was a lot easier to mess with formatting than it was to actually create content.  And, after 17 years, I’m really feeling tapped out.

So, what’s my response?  To share with you two links about generating content!
First, a post from the very brainy and entrepreneurial Growth Lab titled How to find 20+ blog ideas your audience can’t wait to read.  It’s a process, but it’s a process that will help you generate content tailored to your blog, brand, or business.
The other is How To Think Outside The Box with 200+ writing prompts by CoSchedule.  And, it’s just what it sounds like, a list of prompts with blanks to get you started on a blog post.  They’re pretty generic, but they may not all be applicable to your chosen subject matter.

Well, there you have it.  Two links that are free and useful, if not exactly “fun” for non-bloggers or content producers.
Maybe I’ll have something better for you next week.
Maybe not.  Only time will tell.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

10/31/2014

Tools for NaNoWriMo

Filed under: Art,Fiction,Fun,GUI Center,NaNoWriMo — 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 First Quarter Moon

I won’t be participating in NaNoWriMo this year, but if you are, here are some tools that might help those of you who are.

First of all, for those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, which is, according to their website, “… a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.”  If you’ve never heard of it, and would like…
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9/12/2014

Download The Latest Themes From Automattic

Filed under: Art,Fun,Fun Work,GUI Center — 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 Gibbous

It’s a great time to be a blogger.
No, seriously!  For one thing, if you’re an old guy like me, who’s been blogging for ten or fifteen years, the golden time we all knew was coming has arrived; according to The Atlantic, Millennials are finally craving long-form reads.

So, you can finally setup that blog you’ve been dreaming of and write to your heart’s content.  And, while you can always setup a free blog on WordPress.com, I would personally suggest that you…
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7/26/2013

Open Source Digital Darkroom Software

Filed under: Art,Fun,GUI Center,Linux,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:55 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I would imagine by now the few regular readers of this blog have figured out that I love both photography and free software.

I, personally, use Lightroom.  And, yes, I paid for it.  I’ve gotten used to it and I understand the workflow and I can get the little bit of editing I do to photos done that way.  But, I am always on the look out for software that I can recommend to people unwilling to make that kind of…
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2/24/2012

As easy as 123!

Filed under: Art,Fun,Fun Work — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:19 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Well, maybe a little more difficult than that…

My “day job” is being the IT department for a specialized engineering, design and manufacturing business.  In a very simplified nutshell, we design and build huge cranes, primarily for off-shore work in the petroleum industry, but not limited to that.  As such, we are heavily invested in AutoCAD.  And, by that I mean, we couldn’t really function without Autodesk products any more.  So, I try to stay in touch with what’s going on in their world.  That personal imperative led me to contact with Autodesk 123D.

This is actually free software, reviewed at the link above, that will let you design and prototype relatively simple 3d objects.  It can import things from AutoCAD, though, if you’ve got a lot of AutoCAD files, like we do.  What’s more interesting, however, is that this software has links to Autodesk’s 3D printing services.  So, if you don’t have a 3D “printer” of your own, you can get an estimate from Autodesk on producing a 3D prototype right from their software!  How cool is that?!  You can essentially do a 3D “print preview” and they’ll give you a quote on actually producing whatever 3D object you just created on their free software.  And, it seems to be relatively reasonable, too!
What’s even more interesting, I think, is that there’s an add-on which allegedly takes a series of high-resolution photographs you provide it of an object and then creates the 3D model for you!  Now, I haven’t tried this out yet, but I can think of a number of small statues around my house that I would love to have recreated in ABS plastic.  Oh, right, that’s pretty much the only material available through their service; various forms of ABS plastic.  Essentially, the only options are color; white, ivory or black.  Or, if you want to use their more expensive “high-resolution” service, a single color option; a kind of funny greenish color.  Still these can all be painted like any other plastic model, so there is that.

In any case, I can think of any number of uses for a service like this.  Low-end architecture models, for one.  Game pieces.  Custom replacement parts for various bits and pieces of electronic equipment.  Really, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination, budget and the strength of the ABS plastic!
But, the software itself is free, so why not go download it and try it out?  If you do, please, leave your experiences with how well it works in the comments.

1/6/2012

Free Installers

Filed under: Fun Work,Geek Work,Linux,MicroSoft — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:08 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Let’s start the year slow.

So, I’m sure a lot of you got new PCs or laptops, or upgraded your old ones, this holiday season.  Maybe it was a Christmas gift.  Maybe a Christmas gift to yourself.  Maybe you just took advantage of the post-holiday sales.  Whatever it was or how ever you got it, you probably are feeling the pain of reinstalling all those “essential” programs that you use on a regular basis.  Things like Firefox and Mozilla or Chrome and Skype or Winamp or Flash or .Net or iTunes or LibreOffice or any number of similar little things.  You’ll be feeling the pain of having to go to all those individual websites to collect the various install files to run.

Well, I have the solution to the problem you didn’t realize you had.  It’s a little site called “Ninite” and they call themselves “…the fastest way to install, reinstall or upgrade free software”.
You go to the site, check the different bits of software and click the “Get Installer” button and the site will serve up a downloadable installer file that will install the free software you checked on the form.  You run the file and your software gets installed.  That simple.  Oh, and the basic service itself is free.
Now, if you want to maintain that free software and keep it updated, they have a very reasonable service for that, too.  For the personal edition for a single computer, it’s just $9.99 a year, at the moment, but, of course, that may change.

Both the free and pay services are available for Windows or Linux, which I think is pretty damn extra cool.

Anyway, there’s your first fun/cool/useful link for the new year.  I think it bridges the fun, the free and the very geeky stuff that this blog is, I hope, known and appreciated for sharing.
Happy New Year everyone!

11/15/2011

Some Linux Distros to Know

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Career Archive,Geek Work,Linux,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:40 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

There are a lot of Linux distributions.

No, really, I mean there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of Linux distributions out there.
Frankly, it can get a little overwhelming sometimes.  But, I think about them and what they all are and what they do.  I think about them because it’s my job, and because I’m always thinking about what’s coming next in the IT industry.  So, what Linux installs do I think about?  Funny you should ask….
I think about Android.  Yeah, that’s right, the operating system that runs those Droid phones is a kind of Linux.  That’s kind of amazing to me, really, but there it is.  And, I think about it because Android seems to be on more and more devices these days.  Everything from phones to tablets to who knows what next in the consumer market.  But, I try to pay attention to Android because so many people at my office have Android based phones and they all expect me to help them figure their phones out.
I think about Fedora, which is the open source version of Red Hat, which enjoyed pretty good market penetration when they first got going.  They’ve got a lot more competition today, but, still it’s in an IT professional’s best interests to be at least familiar with Fedora.
That goes for openSUSE, too.  openSUSE was bought out by Novell some time ago, so there’s no telling where it’s going to end up with all the buying and selling around Novell’s bits and pieces these days, but it’s still a pretty heavily installed Linux distribution.  My brief experience with it was good, though, I have to admit, that was on older hardware for a personal project, not a corporate gig.
If you’re an Oracle shop, you’ll probably know about Oracle Linux, which is basically Red Hat Linux after Oracle has made modifications to it.  Oh, and jacked the price up.  Still, if you work with Oracle a lot, it’s probably worth looking into.
Eweek recently ran a slidwshow about these, and several other, versions of Linux under the title 10 Linux Distros Every IT Manager Should Know.  Obviously, I agree with some of their listing, but clearly not all.  And, I think they left some off.

For instance, what about the live CD editions?
Two I think anyone in IT should know are Ubuntu and Knoppix.  Knoppix has been around a longer, but Ubuntu has a slicker interface and, I think, is a little better at detecting hardware than Knoppix.  Also, you can install Ubuntu from the live CD media, if you would like, and plenty of people do run it as a desktop.  The real plus is that there’s a pretty healthy community around these two installations, especially Ubuntu.  So, if you need help with either one, there are a lot of resources on the internet to answer your questions.
I use these two all the time to recover data of damaged installs of Windows.  I even used one to build a PC imaging system before I started using Clonezilla, which is also, incidentally, based on Linux.

If you’re worried about security, Linux can help with that, too.
For quite some time, the National Security Agency has sponsored SELinux, which is a pretty secure, hardened version of Linux.  They designed it to be reasonably secure right as a default, since an insecure default install is usually where security problems start.  Of course, you may not trust the NSA.  And, while this is “sponsored” by them, it’s not actually an official US Government Linux install.
For that, you have to go to the US Airforce.  Their Lightweight Portable Security distro is the first official US Linux distribution.  I haven’t actually tried it myself, but ZDNet has a pretty good review of it.

So, as you can see, if you haven’t looked into Linux much before, there are a lot of things to investigate.  And, as a computer professional, I DO recommend that you check out at least some flavor of Linux.  It’s so prevalent and so flexible and handy to have that if you haven’t bumped into it yet, you will.  So before you need to know it, investigate it some on your own.  You’ll be glad you did.
(And, I’m sure every seasoned IT pro has their favorite distro, like Debian, but there are too many to list them all.  If you have opinions about any, please, leave comments!)


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"When the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail."

2/1/2011

LibreOffice Ready For Prime Time

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Geek Work,MicroSoft,News and Current Events — 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

Remember how I mentioned the new Microsoft Office replacement last month?
Well, it’s golden, finally.

A number of months ago, my favorite free office suite, Open Office, forked for various reasons relating to the “openness” of the open source of that project.  The forked code, or, for those of you not familiar with the terminology, the new branch of the on-going project, was called LibreOffice and drew most of the heavy-hitters development-wise from the old project.  They’ve been working quite hard and have gotten their new release out; LibreOffice 3.3.
There’s a pretty good review of what’s new and great about this latest release over at eWeek.com.  Check it out and then go download the latest version and install it for yourself.  Trust me on this.  It’s pretty great.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Be careful about the bridges you burn, because one might turn out to be the one you later want to cross."

11/22/2010

Some Collected Advice for Network Admins

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Geek Work,Linux,MicroSoft — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:33 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

So, I promised you more technical stuff here, right?

Well, stop yer grinin’ and grab yer linen, ’cause here come a fist full of links with some great advice for network administrators, all from TechRepublic:
First, if you’re a real network admin, you’ve dealt with traffic issues on file servers.  Issues that have hidden sources.  Unknown processes that jam up your network connections until your users scream for your head.  So, how do you deal with that when you’re on a budget and don’t have a lot of tools?  Well, one way is to use “netstat” to look at what process is running on what port and sending what volume of data.  If you’re on Unix, you probably already know about this tool, but if you’re on Windows, check out “Netstat tips and tricks for Windows admins“.  It may save your bacon one day.

Second, you probably have wireless in your network now, too, right?  But, it may not always work quite the way you want.  Once again, users will scream bloody murder if they can’t read their blogs on their iPhone, so, how do you find out what’s jamming up your WIFI network so that no one can connect?  Read through “Troubleshooting for wireless connectivity issues” to get you started on running down the problem.

Thirdly, if you’re a REAL network administrator, you probably have at least one Linux box in your network.  Something that runs an open source network inventory or monitoring tool or, maybe even, an actual Linux file server.  In any case, sooner or later, even that sad, little, neglected Linux box will have disk space issues, so here are “10 things you can do when the drive on your Linux box is full“.

And, finally, my personal favorite.  You hear a lot of buzzwords floating around these days in IT shops, but “the cloud” is the most common magic cure for all ills.  Personally, I’m not so sure.  I worry about things like, oh, you know, security and auditing and connectivity issues and little details like that which seem like they might be an issue for the magic cloud computing panacea.  Turns out, I’m not the only one.  So, go see why Patrick Gray says “The cloud doesn’t matter“.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers."

11/9/2010

OpenOffice Replacement

Filed under: Geek Work,GUI Center,MicroSoft,News and Current Events,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:38 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Speaking of free software…

Many of you know that I’ve long been a proponent of the spectacular free office suite, Open Office.  Well, there’ve been some shake-ups in the free software world and Oracle and the developers of Open Office have had a bit of a falling-out.  Nothing too serious, really, but enough of a difference of opinion about the future of Open Office that they forked the project.  Now, what that means to you and me is that they’ve taken the open source code to date and started their open development of it under a new name.  The new project is called “LibreOffice” and is being supported by the Document Foundation, who’s sole purpose seems to be continuing development of this fantastic office suite.
Follow that link and you can download the latest version to try for yourself.  I suggest you do because you may never buy another revision of Microsoft Office again.
Seriously.

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