Diary of a Network Geek

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

12/18/2015

Star Wars Fun and Games

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is mid-morning or 10:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

The new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, opens today, and, in honor of that, I thought I’d share some Star Wars related links.

The first, which I hope is fun for everyone with a website, and who remembers the original Star Wars, Episode IV, A New Hope, is the Star Wars Crawl Creator. Do you remember the giant, yellow text “crawling” through space at the start of that movie?  Well, it was the first time we’d seen anything quite like…
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11/3/2015

Cutting The Cable – Streaming Services

Filed under: Better Living Through Technology,Cutting Cable,Movies,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Streaming content changes your relationship with television programming.

Of course, so did the DVR, but this is different.
I was probably a little ahead of the curve here, because I’ve been streaming Netflix since, at least, 2007.  So, back when it was still just starting to be a thing, really, I had gotten totally comfortable with the idea of streaming content.  In fact, the first of the three services I’m going to talk about might as well be Netflix.  As it turns out, when I decided to drop cable the first time, after Hurricane Ike in September of 2008, Netflix was the only service I had.  I didn’t realize at the time that had only really been possible since January of that year, but it didn’t matter.  I bumped my subscription up to the level which allowed me to have four discs out at a time and I actually watched more content that way than any other.  Let me tell you, binge watching Lost, four episodes in an evening, really opened my eyes.  Not only was it far more understandable and easier to follow the plot of an otherwise complicated and confusing show, but it let me indulge the obsessive side of my personality to my heart’s content.  Most of the time, I prefer movies to regular serial television anyway, but this really let me dive deep into whatever show was popular.  Well, whatever show was popular last year.  At the time, there wasn’t a lot available for streaming, but that changed pretty quickly and, for several years, I got caught up on  a lot of movies I’d missed and shows that I’d come to late in their life.
Now, Netflix has changed, but I still keep them.  And, I currently have an account that allows streaming and up to two discs at a time.  I have upgraded to the Blu-ray option, though, since I’ve upgraded my home theater system to a Blu-ray system.  I do that because there are a lot of things that I might want to watch which I can’t get via streaming.  That being said, for movie content, Netflix still has some of the best options around.  Currently, a streaming-only plan is $8/month for a single screen at a time, but will go up shortly.  I have a grandfathered plan that includes streaming on up to 4 screens and two Blu-ray discs at a time which runs me about $25 /month.  I expect that will go up at the first of the year, based on some news reports I’ve seen, but I think it’s still a bargain.  (You can check the latest prices at NetflixReview, though I don’t know how often the update them.)  Until I bumped up my network speed, we had a lot of issues with buffering if either of us were doing anything else on-line, but that’s not a problem any more.  If we start to have issues again, I’ll bump us up an additional tier, though.  We haven’t done it yet because at least one of our goals here was to save money.

When I first started asking people who I knew had cut cable what they streamed, a surprising trend emerged.
It seemed like all of them had Amazon Prime.  As it turns out, besides getting free shipping on anything that’s sourced from an Amazon warehouse, Amazon Prime includes a lot of free, streaming video. They also have a lot of on-demand streaming video you can buy.  So, the old cable “pay-per-view”, basically, only streaming and with at least as wide a selection, if not larger.  It really feels like Amazon is still building their video catalog, but they do have things that I can’t find on Netflix sometimes.  They seem to have a lot more television than Netflix does for streaming, too.  And, most of their stuff seems more current.  By that I mean, Amazon has more things that aired more recently.
Also, Amazon has some content that they produced.  Of course, Netflix does, too.  I have some those in my queue, at both Amazon and Netflix, but I haven’t gotten around to watching it yet, so I don’t have any comments.  Though, I know Amazon won several Emmy Awards this year for their work.  In fact, in celebration of that, Amazon Prime was on sale some time back, and I got it then for $67/year for the first year instead of the usual $99/year.

The other streaming service I heard people mention a lot was Hulu.
Initially, I started streaming everything via my Sony home theater system and, since Hulu was one of the options available, I decided to try it.  I figured it was cheap, at $7.99/month for “limited commercials”, and they seemed to carry a lot of programming that interested me, like the SyFy Channel.  What I really like about Hulu, though, is basically two things.  One, is that it has a lot of the series I like and a ton of anime, which I love, but haven’t watched a lot of in recent years.  And, two, I can get a lot of shows that recently aired, like Agents of SHIELD, usually, the day after they aired on regular TV.  So, in some ways, Hulu has replaced a lot of what I used my DVR for in the first place.
Hulu also has a lot of more obscure shows, many from Canada, which I’ve never heard of or seen before, which can be fun.  And, the “limited commercials” are just that, limited.  On most shows, the ads are less than 30 seconds long and only show two or three times during an episode.  In some cases, like when my wife and I are watching different shows on different devices, only one of us will actually get ads that interrupt our show.  And, lately, the ad I see the most is from Hulu itself, trying to tempt me into upgrading my service to the “commercial free” level.  For an additional $4/month, I’m tempted, to be honest, but the commercials aren’t very disruptive as they are now.

All three streaming services we’re using have their own content.  So far, though, I’ve only watched original content on Amazon Prime.  Specifically, I’ve watched the first two episodes of Man In The High Castle, which is based on a book by Phillip K. Dick.  It’s been pretty good so far.  I’m also looking forward to watching Daredevil and Jessica Jones, which are both produced by Netflix and are Marvel properties.  They’ve gotten great reviews, even though the general public only has access to Daredevil so far.  Hulu’s original content is mostly comedy and doesn’t really appeal to me that much.  And, I have to admit, the original content is all just icing on the streaming cake for me.  None of the original work had any real bearing on the choices we made regarding streaming services.

All that being said, there is actually one more streaming service that I haven’t gotten yet, but plan to add; Sling TV.  They’re new, but they sound promising and they may be the only way we can replace some of my wife’s favorite programming, namely classic movies.  So far, Sling TV is the only way to get her favorite channel, Turner Classic Movies.
But, that’s going to be a post all on its own at a future date.

Hey, if you made it through all this and still have something to add about your favorite, or least favorite, streaming service, please, leave me a comment!

10/30/2015

Halloween Movies For Free

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Staying in this year? Why not watch a movie?!

No, seriously, why not watch a scary movie on Halloween?
Honestly, I’m not usually into scary movies, because, well, they mostly aren’t actually scary.  But, I do dig some of the classics, like George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, which is often cited as the true genesis of the current zombie craze.  And, the other classic, black and white film Nosferatu terrified me when I was a kid, even though it was…
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8/28/2015

Free Star Trek Movie

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:10 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Want to watch a free 90 minute Star Trek movie?

No, it’s not an officially sanctioned, studio-made movie, but it still looks pretty good.
And, it has some stars from the franchise in it, reprising their characters, albeit in roles that have changed or progressed from where they were in the series.  Yes, it’s entirely fan-made, and fan-sponsored via three Kickstarter campaigns.  (See?  Sometimes Kickstarter does actually produce things!)

The link comes via Space.com and the movie is on YouTube.  The movie is…
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3/27/2015

Independent SciFi Movies

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies — 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 have two for you this week.

Yes, that’s right, two independent sci-fi movies. One is a short that you can watch in it’s entirety on your coffee break. The other is really just a trailer for the longer movie. Both come to us via IO9.com

First, I’ll give you the shorter of the two, but with the greater potential.  The movie is called “Dust” and it’s about a very unpleasant evolutionary explosion and the ramifications of that in a science-fictional future. …
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7/18/2014

Photography Link Grab Bag

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies,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 Waning Gibbous

Since I start my new day job this coming Monday, I’m slacking a little and just sharing some kind of random links about basic photographic technique.

One of the things you see a lot of photographers do, especially if they want to “go pro” and shoot portraits, is something called “seamless paper”.  Basically, it’s a huge, long roll of colored paper that you tape up to a wall or hang from a pole to get a smooth, uninterrupted, but still plain…
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10/19/2012

Under Costumes

Filed under: Art,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Movies,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:21 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

What do  you wear under your Halloween costumes?

So, yeah, Halloween is just around the corner and that has me thinking about costumes.  Well, to be honest, costumes for adults, because, let’s face it, in all our repressed, Puritanical, American, adult bodies, live crazy hedonists that just want to dress up in silly, or sexy, costumes and parade around like the goofballs we all pretend we are NOT.  And, maybe because I have a girlfriend for the first time in ages, I’ve been thinking about what one wears underneath that superhero costume.

As it turns out, DC Comics has just the thing for that; sexy, adult superhero underwear and swimwear.  (And, if the number of times “adult” has appeared so far in this post isn’t a clue, some links here may not be completely safe for work, if you work in a repressive enough environment.)  And, yes, there are options for the guys as well as the ladies there.
For you Marvel fans, they have something more along the lines of sleepwear.  (And, apparently, only for the ladies to wear.  Sorry!)

So, now you have something to think about this weekend.  And, hopefully share with your significant other without getting into trouble!

9/21/2012

Cards as Weapons

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies,Red Herrings,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:35 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Pretty much anything can be turned into a weapon.

Regular readers here will know that I’m not only security and safety conscious, but into, well, some of the stranger aspects of culture.  If there’s an obscure method of self-defense, or a strange sub-culture, I probably know about it.  I tend to be that way with obscure and rare books, too.  But, when all three of these things overlap?  It’s like nerdvana for me!
And such a confluence of material and subjects exist: Cards as Weapons by Ricky Jay.

You probably have seen Ricky Jay in the movies, believe it or not, even if you may not have recognized him.  He’s been in a number of movies by David Mamet, but as a character actor, you may not associate his name with his face.  Either way, Ricky Jay is quite well known in the stage magic world and is one of the best card technicians who’s ever practiced the art.  His book, which retails for an amazing sum on Amazon, on the deadly art of card throwing is well known in some of the circles I’ve brushed up against in my varied and misspent youth.  But, it’s been so hard to find and expensive that few of us have ever actually read it.  Now, thanks to a, possibly pirated, copy that’s up on Scribd, you can download the entire PDF for free.  Free!  So, if  you like magic, or cards, or Ricky Jay, or obscure books, or strange self-defense weapons, or even just knowing cool, strange things, then download this book!  While you still can!

Besides, it’s Friday and you’re reading my blog.  What else have you got to do?

6/22/2012

Five Hundred Free Movies

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:07 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Yes, you read that right.

Clearly, I’m an internet junkie.  Those few brave readers who know a little bit more about me, know that I’m also a movie junkie.  I really, really love movies.  Not just the new ones, either, but the classics, too!  I love movies that, frankly, people would not necessarily associate with me.  I mean, I like everything from Westerns to Noir to Comedies to, yes, classic science-fiction.  Pretty much, if there’s a genre of movie, I’ll watch it, though I have to admit, I’m not a huge horror fan.
But, in this age of austerity where everyone is cutting back, and cutting the cord to the cable companies, how can you get your  movie “fix”?  Easy, check out the Open Culture list of 500 Free Movies Online.  Yes, you’ll have to stream these, but other than having an internet connection, they’re all free for your viewing pleasure.

So, hey, it’s Friday, right?  Go pirate yourself some wifi from the neighbors and stream a free movie!  You’ve earned it this week!

9/9/2011

Apocalypse Moby

Filed under: Art,Fiction,Fun,Movies,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:36 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I’ve never been a huge fan of Moby Dick.

But, I have to admit, the idea of mashing Moby Dick with Apocalypse Now seems like a pretty killer idea to me.  And, that, dear readers, is just what Apocalypse Moby is; an amazing mashup of these two very different stories that comes out amazingly well.  In fact, it almost had a science-fiction feeling to it.  Or maybe that was just my personal experience leaking through, but, either way, it was pretty cool.

Of course, it’s a play, stage-play or screen-play, depending on your bent, which may make it a bit challenging to read, but, I think it’s worth it.  And, trust me on this, it works surprisingly well.  Honest.
It’s just the thing to read on a weekend when you’re too hot to do anything else anyway.  So, go ahead, it’s free!  Go download it and read it!
And have a great weekend!!

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