Diary of a Network Geek

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


More Free Music for Projects

Filed under: Fun,music,On Creativity,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 a Third Quarter Moon

I can’t believe I didn’t include this last week.

Okay, so this may be a little boring for people who aren’t thinking about creating videos or setting their home movies to music, but, boring people with this blog has never stopped me from sharing something before, so I won’t let it now.  This free and mostly unrestricted resource requires a Google account of some kind to access, but I think it’s worth setting up a Gmail account to get to this amazing collection of audio.  It’s the free, YouTube Audio Library.  Notice, though, that I called it an audio library, not a music library.  That’s because half of this is music, much of which you can use without restriction.  But, the other half of it is a collection of relatively high-quality sound effects.  Now, I wouldn’t want to make a whole movie with this library, but, conceivably you could.  This has everything from music for every kind of emotion and scene, but also pretty much every generic sound effect you could ask for, from bullets to kids to Summer nights to pocket change hitting a wood table.
As free audio libraries go, it’s pretty complete.

Also, it’s been kind of a long week and y’all are lucky to be getting anything at all from this blog this Friday.  Maybe next week will be better.  Maybe not.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.


Evernote Add-Ons

Filed under: Fun,Red Herrings,The Tools — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:06 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I’ve become a huge Evernote fan since I started using it for the Getting Things Done a couple months ago.

And, as I find more and more things I can do through Evernote to keep me organized and efficient, I find I love it more and more. I’ve been focused on templates recently, both finding them and making them myself. But, as it turns out there are all kinds of add-ons for Evernote, too. Here are two.
First, for those of us who want to keep a map of the area around an appointment, or some other entry we may want to put into Evernote, there’s MapClipper, which will let you take a small slice of Google maps and save it into your Evernote notebook. And, if you’ve paid for one of the better-than-free subscriptions for Evernote, you can save these maps off-line, too, which can come in handy sometimes.
Then, if you want to improve your mind, but only in short, condensed bits, there’s Blinkist, which will give you non-fiction books summarized into a fifteen-minute executive summary right into your Evernote notebook. The free subscription gives you one condensed book per day, which they choose for you, but if you upgrade to one of the paid versions you can pick books and get more than one per day. I’m not a big fan of executive summaries, but for certain business or trendy books, I might prefer it.

So, there you are, two free add-ons for Evernote to make your life even better!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.


Submarine Google View

Filed under: Fun,Marginalia and Notes from the Editor,Personal,Photography — 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

Those who know me best, know my obsession with submarines.

I have loved submarines, especially the World War II era subs, since I was a kid growing up in Chicago and going to the Museum of Science and Industry.  There I would always want to make sure and tour the famous U505; a German U-Boat that was captured intact and towed through the Great Lakes to her final resting place in Chicago.  I’ve probably been through the U-505 more than a dozen times.  It’s incredible.
If I’m ever in a city where I can tour a submarine, I do my best to make it a priority.  For instance, the last time I was in San Francisco, I made sure to see the USS Pampanito, a retired U.S.N. submarine.  Similar in many ways to the German boats, but not quite as cramped.
I’ve read a number of books about World War II submarines, as well as modern subs, from both the Allies and the Axis.  I’ve never been aboard a Japanese submarine or a British submarine, but, now, thanks to the magic power of Google, we can take a virtual tour of one.  The HMS Ocelot has been pretty completely mapped by Google and you can get a really good look at what she was like.  Nothing replaces actually being in one, but this is about the next best thing.

Besides, it’s Friday and you’re probably avoiding work like most everyone else is, so why not have some educational fun and do a virtual tour of a piece of history!?
Enjoy and have a great weekend!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.


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.


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!


WordPress – Blogging, CMS and more

Filed under: Never trust a Network Admin with a screwdriver — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:17 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

So, my “Tools for Tuesday” posts are getting a bit more challenging for me time-wise and quality-wise.

That’s why I missed last week, actually.  I was just too busy to get a good review post done and shared in time.  And, I think maybe it’s time I start scaling that feature back, just a bit, to one post every other week.  I hope it will let me maintain both the quality and quantity of “Tools for Tuesday” posts.

And, now that bit of house-keeping is out of the way, on with the big show!WordPressThreePointNine-2
Or, at least the main post.  This week, I’m sharing something that is probably familiar to many, if not most, of my readers; WordPress.  WordPress is the blogging software that I use to run this blog, not to mention my other old blog at Fantasist.net, as well as the entire site at JKHoffman.com and my wife’s site at OrganizingDecorator.com.  It will also be what I use to run two other projects that I’m working on developing, Find My Photographer and Find My Decorator.
As you fellow devotees know, this past week saw the release of WordPress 3.9, but I’ve been using this free, open source software since version 1.2!  Before that, I used MovableType like many early bloggers, but with their “great license debacle”, many of us jumped ship and found our way to WordPress.  I know one reason I, personally, chose to go that route was because the lead developer of the project is Matt Mullenweg, who happens to hail from Houston, where I live currently.  I liked the idea that I might run into him at one of the local computer groups that were around at the time.  I never did, but I did go to DEF*CON with someone he used to play in a band with back in 2012.

In any case, I’ve used WordPress for a long time, especially in “internet years”.
Back in the day, it was really only a blogging platform, but it was super easy to setup and maintain.  And, perhaps more importantly to me, especially back then, it was easy to extend.  I haven’t written any plugins lately, but WordPress is so easy to use and code for that even I could write add-ons for it.  I’ve even done some pretty significant modification of themes, and anyone who knows me knows that I’m about as far from a designer as you can get.
WordPressThreePointNineSince those early days, though, WordPress has really grown up!  Now, not only can it handle simple blogging, but it can run your whole site.  There are detractors, of course, who say that it’s not really a full-featured content management system, but they’re wrong.  WordPress has built-in features that make running an entire site easy, like the ability to set a static home page and super-simple page management.  Add to that a completely customizable appearance through themeing, limited only by the designer’s vision and ability and you can see why WordPress runs about 19% of the internet and has been downloaded at least 46 million times.  But, what’s even better is that there are so many people doing add-on development in one for or another that there is a theme, widget or plug-in that will pretty much do anything else you could want that’s not already rolled in.  And that’s really saying something because WordPress “ships” with a pretty robust gallery and media management system already rolled into it.  Other important features include good, reasonably secure user management, a commenting system and an easy to use interface.  Granted, the interface is always being worked on and improved, so it’s always changing, but it’s never been a distraction for me.

WordPressFourPointZeroOther features include autosave, spell check, automatic upgrading, built-in plugin installation, sticky posts, comment threading/paging/replies, bulk management of posts and comments, image editing, a Trash/Undo feature, bulk plugin and theme updating, a multi-site option allowing multiple custom blogs to be run from the same installation, it comes in at least 70 languages and it’s even pretty optimized for search engines!  But, it think what matters most to me is that WordPress has a huge community around it, supporting it going forward, developing for it and making it better, even though it’s free.  I can download the latest version of this beauty any time I want, install it on the webserver of my choosing, and make my voice heard on the internet.  I can build with it or I can build on it to make it do whatever I need or want and anything I create with it is all mine.  No one owns a piece of it and, as long as I write my own posts and pages, I keep and maintain all rights to all the data that I shove into it.  That’s pretty incredible when you think about it.

And, yes, it really is easy to install and use, so if you’re thinking about starting a website, I highly recommend using WordPress to do it.  Don’t listen to the nay-sayers that claim WordPress isn’t up to the task either, because a lot of really incredible websites use WordPress.  You can check some out at the WordPress Showcase.  You might be surprised at some of the high-profile sites that you have already been to that use WordPress!  All that power can be yours, too, if you just take the time to download, install and use WordPress!


A Word On Writing Well

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,The Network Geek at Home,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:09 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Okay, a bit more than a word…

“Content is king”, they used to say. The idea was if you wrote enough compelling material for your blog or website, then the readers, and search engines, couldn’t help but find you and rank you well. Sounds like a great idea, right? Then why do so many people write such bad content?

I don’t know either.
What I do know is that everyone and their brother have an idea about how to write good, compelling content for your blog or website. Take SEO Book, for instance, who ran a post about writing better blog posts back in December of 2008. They, in turn, referenced Seth Godin and a book titled On Writing Well.
Now, I’ll grant you, I tend to share links to other resources, offering an opinion about them usually, but not as much original content as I’d like.  But, still, I think that even those posts are written reasonably well.  And, I think it’s worth taking the time, even on a blog, to write well.  Not to improve my rankings in search engines, but because writing well, communicating clearly, is a worthy pursuit.  It may not always be obvious here, but I actually worked quite hard to become a competent writer well beyond things like English class in high school.  One way or another, I’ve written for years and take pride in my ability to write clearly, concisely and in an entertaining manner.

You see, the thing is, as much as we love video and photos and graphics and the like, in the end, we use words to actually communicate.
The next time you’re driving down the street in whatever town you live, notice how many signs have writing on them.  Or, better yet, notice how many signs are, in fact, themselves, writing.  Words, and writing, is still the medium we use to express ourselves, even on the web.  How we write is an expression of how we think.  Writing well is an essential skill that displays our intelligence and our education.  Writing poorly, with sloppy grammar and with “text message” abbreviations, subtly tells people that we are not as smart as we claim to be, and not to be trusted or believed.  Writing well, on the other hand, assures our reader that we are smart, trustworthy and competent enough to be relied upon.  Our writing, especially on the internet, can be, as they say at Google and Wikipedia, considered “authoritative”.
I have argued with people via e-mail and comments who, when they found themselves in metaphorical quicksand, insisted that they would argue circles around me in person.  I questioned how that would be possible if they couldn’t write sufficiently to defend their position when they had all the time they needed to consider the argument at hand and edit their work before replying.

Which brings me to the real point of this little screed; editing and revision.
I know the web is a fast and furious place and that fresh content is the most important thing, but, I do think we have the time to edit and revise articles, even short ones, before making them public.  And, we can all use spellcheck now.  In fact, the version of WordPress that I’m currently running has spellcheck and grammar check built into it.  I would think more people would take advantage of this feature, as well as the ability to save posts in a draft format for later review before posting.
Granted, not every post is going to garner that sort of care and attention, but shouldn’t more of them get it rather than less?  If we are our words on the internet, shouldn’t we care more how we sound and what we say?  I think so.

I think it’s worth writing fewer words, or even writing fewer entire posts, so that a certain minimal attention may be paid to the content and style.
In short, I think if it’s worth saying, then it’s worth saying well.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing in the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment."
   --Lady Dorothy Nevill


Finding Jobs with SEO

Filed under: Career Archive,Certification,Geek Work,News and Current Events,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:52 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Search engine marketing for job search?

Sure, why not?
I mean, that is why I started this blog ten years ago.  I guess I’m a little ahead of the curve, though, because Channel Insider just recently ran a story listing 17 tips for using SEO and social media to get the IT job you really want.  Mostly, they’re good tips, too, though for anyone who’s internet savvy at all, they’re also mostly common sense.  In fact, I think most real, good search engine optimization is just plain common sense.  Granted, I may be biased because of what I do and how I spend my free time, but, still, it’s not rocket science, you know?

I’ll grant you, this blog has wandered away from my original purpose a bit, but I still talk about technology and some of the things I do at work.  Initially, I started do this so I could drop buzzwords on my page, like “networking” and Certified Novell Engineer”, with normal language to lure in the search engines.  It was easy, really, all I had to do was bore people with detailed descriptions of the IT stuff I did all week long.  Then, because that gets boring fast, I started to occasionally pepper those entries with more colorful personal anecdotes.  Not too colorful, though!

One of the best tips is, to me, one of the most obvious, too.
Be careful what you post.  People seem to quickly forget that the search engines find everything.  Every drunken picture you post or every off-color joke or skeevy thing you share on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere else eventually will get traced back to you.  Count on it.  So, be careful to share only the important information and just the details that relate to the image you want to project to get that job.  Treat the whole exercise as an extended digital job interview and put your best foot forward.

Oh, also?  Be honest.  Don’t over-share, but don’t lie either.  The other thing you can count on is that every lie you tell on-line will eventually be found out.

Other than that, though, the real secret is to just provide good content that people want to read.  That, by its very nature, will include all the SEO keywords that you’ll need and give you all the right kinds of links, and, most importantly of all, the right kinds of readers.
Trust me.  I’m telling you this as a guy who once got a call from another city from someone looking for a Novell consultant and was hoping I could help.  Why?  Because I was the number one hit for CNE on Google and they could get to me, but they couldn’t find similar help from Novell themselves.  So, yeah, I do know what I’m talking about and it really does work.  Just do the foot-work, and be patient while the rest happens.  It will.
Trust me.


10 Year Anniversary

Filed under: Career Archive,Certification,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Linux,News and Current Events,Novell,PERL,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 12:08 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Yesterday marked this blog’s ten year anniversary.

In ten years, I’ve made more than 1,700 posts and had more than 1,900 comments, many of those from years when I blogged almost every day.  But, it was ten years ago when I uploaded my first entry. I edited it in a text editor of some kind, probably Notepad, and used FTP to push it up to the server. That was back in the days before blogging software and when most of us still called them journals or diaries. I started doing it to try and game the search engines. Mostly, it worked, I think, since the majority of my readers have found me via a search of some kind.

Since that first entry, a lot has changed.
I’ve been through two different kinds of blogging software. After months of doing it by hand, I converted to Moveable Type. I used that for several years, until the Time of the Troubles, when there was a big fuss over how Moveable Type was going to charge for previously free software, even after promising to keep it free forever. Like most converts, I changed over to WordPress, which I still use today. Moveable Type does have a free version, but, frankly, after learning how easy it was to style and customize WordPress, I can’t imagine moving back. Not to mention how much easier it is to make plugins for WordPress. Frankly, I love it.
Ten years ago, I did quite a few entries from the road via my old Palm IIIc with a folding keyboard. I typed them up and then synced that with my PC and pushed the entries from there. That old IIIc doesn’t hold a charge too well any more, but I’m still using the same PC I was ten years ago. Of course, I’ve added a much newer laptop, several other machines, and an iPhone to my technological stable since then. In fact, I was a beta tester for the new iPhone WordPress app!

A lot of other things have changed, too.
For one thing, I married and subsequently divorced the woman I was living with at the time. I’ve changed jobs, count it, five times, finally staying at my current company for about five years. I survived cancer. But, ironically, after several ups and downs with weight, I’m probably in better shape now than I was ten years ago!
Sure, I’d have liked to had a few more dates in the past ten years, but, I think I’ve done okay considering the divorce, not to mention the less than stellar marriage and, you know, the cheating death and all.  You’d be surprised how tired you get dodging the Grim Reaper!

I’ve upgraded my Novell certification at least once in that time as well as added a Linux certification.  My original plan of using this blog to boost my rankings in the search engines has largely paid off, as I’m consistently the number one or number two hit on Google for the search term “network geek”.
In that time, I’ve taught myself Perl, which is a scripting/programming language that’s been called the “duct tape of the Internet”.  In fact, as of this post, I’m a Level 8 PerlMonk.  (It’s a geek thing.) I’ve also gotten reasonably proficient at PHP, since that’s the technology which makes WordPress go.  At least, I’ve gotten good enough to write a few simple plugins and even a rough theme.  Frankly, I hope to do more of that soon, too.

I’ve taken up photography since starting this blog, too, and I think I’ve gotten fairly good at it.  Naturally, there’s room for improvement, as I’ve only been doing it for about two years, but, still, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long, long time.  I’m not very artistically skilled, but photography lets me tap into that in a less intimidating way.  I suppose, in a way, so does my obsession with blog themes and logo design.

And, of course, I’ve started several other blogs or websites in the ten years that I’ve had this blog.  But, don’t worry, those sites have been languishing just as badly as this one has the past several months.  It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write, or even had things to write about, but I’ve just been too busy to sit down and do it.
Though, I do have to admit, part of that sort of writer’s block has been about my audience.  I mean, if you hit that search function over in the sidebar, you can get pretty interesting access to my life for the past ten years.  Oh, sure, not everything makes it into the blog, but I’ve been pretty candid posting here.  I try to keep it clean, mostly, and nothing that would embarrass my mother, but, I have been honest enough to shock a few friends.  So, if there’s something you want to know about me, just search for it.  You may be surprised what you find here!

So, wow.
It’s been an interesting experience blogging for the past ten years.  I started before the trend was as huge as it was and kept on even when the shine had worn off for many.  I can say for sure that I didn’t anticipate many of the twists and turns this blog took over the past ten years, much less my life, but it has been an interesting ride.  Many of you have been with me for quite some time now and I appreciate you reading along with me here.
I don’t know what the next ten years will bring here, or elsewhere in life, but I do hope you’d come along for the ride.  I’m sure it will be as big a surprise to me as it is to you!


30 Tips for Bloggers

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,Red Herrings,Things to Read — 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 Waxing Gibbous

But, just two links.

Okay, so I’m kind of cheating with this, but, still, if it gets some of this in front of people who can use it, I think it’s worth gaming the system a bit.
First, I have a link to the Search Engine Journal post on Link Baiting, or How to Build Links in ANY Niche. For those of you in a hurry, I’ll summarize: write really, really killer content, if possible with tie-ins to other major blogs. (But, to read the article anyway.)
Secondly, the other 29 tips and whatnot are all at ProBlogger. Sure, the post title is 29 Tips, Tutorials and Resources for New Bloggers, but there’s plenty there for old-timers, too. (I keep meaning to read the ProBlogger book, too, but, it’s hiding under an exercise book, so I haven’t gotten to it yet.)

Okay, and yes, I’m hoping that the search engines will find this post and jostle me up a bit in the rankings. I am Googlerank whore. There, I said it. Happy now?

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