Diary of a Network Geek

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

9/10/2013

Against Digital Sharecropping

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Ooo, shiny...,Pressgram,Rotten Apples — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:16 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I like being free and independent.

I like the idea behind Instagram, but not the proprietary nature of it.
I don’t like giving up my rights to work I create.   Even when it’s just a little photo of a little moment captured with my iPhone.  I dislike, as Nicholas Carr called it on his blog, “digital sharecropping”. And, of course, now the ads have finally started on Instagram, solidifying my discomfort with it.  Why should I let them profit from even the smallest amount of my work without compensation?

Well, now, there’s a new program called Pressgram, that’s a free iPhone app, which allows an Instagram-like experience, but uploads the photos to my WordPress blog. You can upload them to your WordPress.com blog, or, as I do, to my self-hosted WordPress blog.  Word has it that there is an Android version in the works, too.  It’s a new app, so there are some on-going refinements, but it really is a great start, I think.

Obviously, I’ve been using it here and at my other site, JKHoffman.com, so I believe in it.  Yes, it took me a little fiddling to get the setting just the way I want and to sort out a couple other things, but, now that I have, I think this is going to work just fine.  I can already see the difference in my site stats!
Anyway, worth checking out if you’re leary of another ad-supported system that lets you share, but not much else.

8/9/2013

Simulated Camera

Filed under: Fun,Ooo, shiny... — 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 Waxing Crescent

What good is a virtual camera?

Funny you should ask.

So, my regular readers, both of you, know that I love photography.  But, at the same time, you’ll also notice that I haven’t been posting as many photos as I used to post.  There are a lot of reasons for that, but one, and the one I’m going to focus on today, is that I’m rusty.  Rusty in the sense that it’s been so long since I was shooting regularly that I’ve…
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2/22/2013

Two Random Blog Design Tools

Filed under: Fun Work,Ooo, shiny...,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:11 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Are there really any websites that aren’t essentially blogs?

Okay, I know there are, but, considering that some people estimate about 1 out of every 5 sites runs WordPress, it amounts to the same thing.
In any case, these two tools I’m about to share can actually be useful to any website design.

First, there’s the graphic “place-holder” generator, lorempixel.
Using their tool, you can find and download “place holder” images that are generic, in either color or b&w, and the size you need…
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2/15/2013

Color Scheme Designer

Filed under: Art,Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work,GUI Center,Ooo, shiny... — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:52 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I am not a designer.

This may be painfully evident from the look and feel of this website, which, I did not code myself.  It is a WordPress-based website which, at best, I have “themed” myself, but with lots of help from code “borrowed” via Google and other sources.  In fact, there are so many code sources it would be hard to link to them all or list them all or thank them all.  It’s the way of the web, I’m…
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6/15/2012

Mother of Invention

Filed under: Fiction,Fun,Ooo, shiny... — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:42 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

No, not a real mother.

Maybe, not even a real invention, either!
I think science-fiction has changed a lot.  I don’t mean that it’s different today than it was when I was a kid, though, I think that’s true, too.  No, what I mean is that the intrepid science-fiction authors who have entertained us for so many years have actually changed things with their stories.  One way I think they’ve changed things is via invention.  They’re constantly coming up with crazy, new, almost magical inventions for their stories.  Devices that do things we’d like to be able to do or at least do faster or easier.  Some of these are pretty Earth-shattering, like a personal communication device you can fit in your pocket, and are so incredible that they actually inspire someone to invent them, like the cell phone.  (Okay, yeah, there may not be a direct link between science-fiction and cell phones, but, you have to admit, it existed in sci-fi before we had it in our hand!)
Well, a little site called Technovelgy has put together a timeline of science-fiction inventions.

It’s fun and I think if you look at some of these things, you’ll recognize their modern equivalent.  But, maybe most interesting of all is the stuff that’s been talked about in science-fiction that doesn’t exist… Yet.  So, here’s your chance, you freshly graduated engineers and hopeful inventors, pick something from the list and make it come true!
But, for the rest of us, check out the list and day dream your Friday away.

2/10/2012

The Best 404 Pages

Filed under: Art,Fun,Fun Work,Ooo, shiny... — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:02 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Not all 404 pages are created equal.

Most of us will never see a 404 page.  In fact, if things are going well on your website, 404 pages shouldn’t normally come up.  (For those of you not familiar a 404 page is the error page you get on a website when the page you’re looking for is missing or can’t be found.)  In the old days, 404 pages were pretty much blank, outside of the error message itself.  They were meant for developers to troubleshoot and debug their websites, really.  They were a kind of place-holder page and, at best, an irritant to the average internet browser.
But, as the web grew up and became more sophisticated, so have 404 pages.  On many sites, they’ve become a kind of “Easter egg“, offering a look at the wit and sense of humor of the site designers and programmers.  What was an annoyance has become a fun bit of art!

Clearly, not even all “fun” 404 pages are created equal, so here are the best 404 Pages according to Gizmodo, one of the premiere gadget and technology blogs.  My favorite is the one they feature first, which strikes me as especially funny, considering my frustrations with Match.com lately.  There are some really good ones there, some more fun and some more useful than others, but all worth another look.  And, even though I know these are Gizmodo’s favorites, there are plenty of good ones that haven’t been listed here.  If you have any, please, leave a link in the comments!

And, hey, why not go check out that gallery today?  It is, after all, Friday, and surely you’ve earned some slack time by now!

10/24/2011

Light Field Camera

Filed under: Art,Fun Work,News and Current Events,Ooo, shiny... — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:31 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Well, this is interesting…

Some time ago, I read about a revolutionary new idea in cameras; focusing after taking the photograph.
Having had autofocus occasionally grab the wrong thing in a photo, this idea intrigued me.  The idea that a camera could simply capture all the available light, store it in a photographic format, and let you choose later where you wanted to focus seemed, frankly, like an impossibility.  It seemed like science-fiction.  Well, apparently, the future is now, because this camera…
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8/26/2011

Muse – Free Web Publishing Software

Filed under: Art,Fun,GUI Center,Ooo, shiny... — 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 Waning Crescent

I love free!

So, most everyone in my business has heard of Adobe.  Mainly because they’re the top design and graphics software publisher in business right now.  Well, they’ve released a FREE program called Muse that lets you layout and publish webpages without having to write code.  Now, myself, personally, I’m okay writing the HTML code behind simple webpages, but, frankly, it’s a lot faster to do it in a nice graphical user interface that’s filled with point-and-click tools.  Also, since this comes from Adobe, you know that they’re going to have a great interface and make it easy to use for the novice.  Not sure how the output is, but, frankly, for most users, as long as the page looks nice when they’re done, the code behind it doesn’t really matter.

The program itself runs on their Adobe AIR platform, which means it’s pretty lightweight and fast.  You can read about all the features on the Muse website.
Oh, and while this is free right now, it will, eventually, be for sale in 2012, when they’ll be charging by the month for it.  So, you’d better get this while you can!

Hey, free, creative software just in time for the weekend, how can you beat that?
Well, enjoy your Friday, in any case.

3/11/2011

A Closet In Outer Space

Filed under: Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Ooo, shiny...,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:42 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

One of the many problems I’ve always had with the majority of science-fiction is space.

No, not outer space, but, rather, the space they use on spaceships and the like.  Something like the U.S.S. Enterprise is fantastic and fun, but, frankly wholly unrealistic in their use of available space on a star ship.  Those high ceilings and vast gardens are wonderful, but, really, they add so much mass to a deep space vessel  that I have to wonder if they’re really a good use of materials, not to mention the fuel to move it all and maintain it.
Even Battlestar Galactica seems to have incredibly high ceilings for a military vessel.  I mean, compare it to, say, an aircraft carrier, or, perhaps more reasonably, a submarine.  Granted, modern submarines have vastly more space available to them than their predecessors from World War II, but, still, space is at a premium.

In our only actual space installation, the International Space Station, space is certainly at a premium.  Granted, it’s not something that we still seem to be spending a lot of money on to improve or expand or even replace or duplicate, but it is the only real off-planet installation we currently have.  As such, it’s all we have to use as a guide for how future space craft or space stations might use their space.  So, if you’re a science-fiction writer, a future or hopeful science-fiction writer, or even just a fan, you owe it to yourself to check out this tour of the ISS.  Trust me on this, it will be an “eye opener” for many people seeing it for the first time.

Also?  I think it’s incredibly cool that people are living in space, even in cramped quarters, even for relatively short periods of time.
We live in the future.

12/9/2010

42nd Birthday of the Mouse

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Ooo, shiny... — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:29 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

It’s not quite the “birthday” of the mouse, but…

Today is the 42nd anniversary of the first time a mouse made its commercial debut, though the patent was actually granted just a few weeks earlier on November 17th. That’s right, the mouse, that marvel of modern technology that most of us use daily is just a little older than I am. Invented by Douglas C. Engelbart and the group of 17 researchers working with him in the Augmentation Research Center at Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, CA, the original mouse was little more than a square, wooden box, but the little device would change the world. Engelbart showed how the mouse could let a user jump from text on one part of the screen randomly to another section without having to scroll through the text inbetween. Doesn’t sound too revolutionary to us today, does it? But, think about how you navigated to this page to read this little blurb, then try to imagine doing it without a mouse. Or, imagine trying to use Photoshop or any other graphic design program for that matter without the point-click-and-drag of a computer mouse. Yeah, pretty much everything cool you can do on a computer these days involves a mouse or similar pointer. Now, of course, to me, that’s the real genius of an invention like the mouse; it seems so obvious that we wonder why we didn’t think of it sooner!

So, happy demo day, little guy. Thanks for giving me a job and us a way to waste time at work.

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