Diary of a Network Geek

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

11/29/2013

DIY eBook Cover

Filed under: Art,Fun,NaNoWriMo — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:22 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

So, at this point, you should be just about done with your novel for NaNoWriMo.

If you’ve kept pace, in the next 24 to 48 hours, you should be wrapping up your 50,000+ pages and breathing a giant sigh of relief.
You’ll want to step away from the writing tools of your choice and take a break before editing your fledgling star into something that people will want to not only read, but tell their friends about having read.  But, first, you’re…
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11/22/2013

Virtual Characters

Filed under: Art,Fun,NaNoWriMo — 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 Waning Gibbous

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this month, and you’re reading this post, you’re either so far along on your book that you have time to burn, or you’ve given up.
Please, don’t give up.

In 2011, John Scalzi wrote about “being fictional”, which was his take on Elizabeth Bear’s post regarding how she is, in the minds of fans who have not met her, essentially, a fictional person.  It’s an interesting thought, I think, that someone can think they know us so well…
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11/15/2013

Turkey City Lexicon

Filed under: Art,Fun,NaNoWriMo,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 4:24 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

The infamous science-fiction workshop lexicon of “things to not do”.

Over the years, so much has been written about what to do and what NOT to do in fiction that it’s a little overwhelming sometimes.
Personally, when I write, I’m almost always trying to write fantasy or science-fiction, or what is sometimes referred to as “speculative fiction”.  On the surface, that seems easier, since, essentially, a writer can make up virtually every and any aspect of their fictional universe, but, good speculative…
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11/1/2013

Let the writing begin!

Filed under: Art,Fun,Life Goals,NaNoWriMo — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:58 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

NaNoWriMo starts today, but I won’t be participating this year.

Maybe next year, after my life is just a little more settled and I’ve spent a year getting my writing chops back.
Writing here, or any non-fiction, is relatively easy for me these days, but writing fiction is another kettle of fish.  I used to write all the time and, especially right after college, it flowed easily and well.  I would say, in my own estimation, that I was writing fiction at…
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7/26/2013

Happy Sysadmin Day!

Filed under: Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:04 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Yeesh!  Can you believe I was so busy this year, I almost didn’t notice?!

No, seriously, I was so busy running around at the office and trying to get my lovely fiance’s website squared away that I totally missed that today was Sysadmin Day!
So, here are a couple of things for you to read, especially if you’re NOT a system administrator.  First there’s a link to Ten Things NOT to Say to a Sysadmin.  Trust me, I’ve heard all of these things, many of them just in this week alone, and they all make me grind my teeth!

And, then an XKCD that captures just what it feels like to be an overworked, under-appreciated system administrator:

The weird sense of duty really good sysadmins have can border on the sociopathic, but it's nice to know that it stands between the forces of darkness and your cat blog's servers.

XKCD always knows what I’m thinking! http://xkcd.com/705/

So, if you haven’t yet, do something nice for your system admin. They really will appreciate it!

5/17/2013

Draft – Version Control For Writers

Filed under: Fun Work,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:27 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

I am a geek.

This may be self-evident based on the fact that I work in IT and maintain several websites including two blogs, but the implications of that may not be clear.
In software development, of which I have done very, very little, there’s a concept called “version control”.  In brief, it’s about keeping track of the latest revision of your written source code, so that you can revert, if necessary, to an older version for part of the code, when…
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5/3/2013

Write More Quickly

Filed under: 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 8:27 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

with the DASH method!

I hate to admit it, but when I write on this blog, or any of my blogs, really, I often find myself floundering about.
Sometimes, I just keep typing until something mildly coherent comes out.  But, the better posts are the result of me stopping for a few minutes and contemplating what message I’m trying to get across to my readers.  And, although I haven’t written fiction in many years, it used to work the same way there,…
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1/1/2013

Day One

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Life Goals,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:20 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

On this day, in 1660, arguably the most famous diarist in history, Samuel Pepys, made the first entry into his personal diary.

He kept his diary for approximately nine years, detailing everything from his personal life to the news of the day to even what he ate.  Although he clearly kept his diary purely as a personal exercise, he must have suspected that it may eventually prove interesting to future generations based on the care he took to bind it and…
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Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Men of few words are the best men."
   --William Shakespeare

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!

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