Diary of a Network Geek

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


Rainy Coffee Shop

Filed under: Art,Fun,music,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:14 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Remember two weeks ago?  When I was talking about ambient coffee shop sounds?

Well, now someone has come out with an improvement, at least in my mind; rain.
So, really, this one is even simpler than the last one.  There’s just two buttons; one to turn on the “cafe sounds” and one to turn on the “rain”.  That’s it.  Though, I assume if you want some music, you can just go ahead and play your regular MP3 player of choice as well…
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Guess Who’s Coming To Town?

Filed under: Art,Fun,music,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:09 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

No, not Santa.

Well, I suppose Santa is coming to town, soon enough, but I’m talking about something else entirely.
No, I’m talking about your favorite bands.  This past weekend, my girl and I went to see one of her favorite musical acts, who were playing at a real, Texas dance all over in Winnie, about an hour outside of Houston.  But, we only knew about it because one of her friends had been lucky enough to catch an announcement about them coming.  What if he hadn’t?  These guys are pretty old now and, frankly, there’s no telling when, or if , they’d ever come to our area again.  If we hadn’t gotten lucky like that, we might never have seen them!

Now, though, there’s another option; Songkick.  This app, for either iOS or Android, will scan your music collection on that device, or check your Last.FM song list, and tell you when those artists are coming to your area.  It will also tell you who else will be playing with them and serve you up a map of where the venue is.  And, on top of all that, the app will let you add the concert to your calendar to remind you to buy tickets.
Frankly, I think this is a genius idea and I wish there was an app like it that would do the same for your favorite authors!

So, what the heck, it’s Friday and if you’re reading this, you’re not working any more so you might as well go download the app for your phone and see who’s playing near you or coming soon.
And, have a great weekend!


Writing Music

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Art,Fun,music — 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 Waning Crescent

Some music to create the Great American Novel by.

Or, you know, whatever it is you need to write.
Back in October, I brought you a link to soundtracks for your books, but this week, it’s music that will hopefully inspire your writing.  I know a lot of people who write to music, whether that’s PHP code, or fiction, or even blog entries.  And, of course, there are as many opinions about not only whether to listen to music or not, but what kind of music to listen to, as there are writers.  When I was writing more than I do now, I have to admit, I always had something on in the background, whether it was music or television or something else, just to keep part of my mind busy while I wrote.  And, when I got stuck, changing the music, or other background noise, often is what got me “un-stuck”.
So, whether you’re stuck or not, why not check out this article at NeuroTribes titled “Music to Write By” and see what ten very different writers have to say on the subject.  Who knows?  You may pick up some new tunes to help you the next time you get writer’s block!

Besides, you know if you’re reading my blog, you aren’t working any more this week anyway, so you may as well check it out.
Have a great weekend, y’all!

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"When written in Chinese, the word 'crisis' is composed of two characters - one represents danger and the other represents opportunity."


DupeGuru, Music Edition

Filed under: Fun,music,Red Herrings — 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 Waxing Crescent

Do you have a lot of music?

I’m not a huge music person, really.  At least, not in the pop-music on the radio all the time kind of way.  But, I am sort of a digital pack-rat, which means I’ve actually got a surprising collection of MP3 files.  And, of course, moving those from computer to computer means I’ve ended up with a surprising number of duplicates.  So, what to do?
Well, now there’s DupeGuru, music edition.  Pretty much what it says; a program to help you remove duplicates and this one is the “special” edition for music.  Though I have to admit that I’m not sure what the difference between the editions could be, really.

In any case, since I’m sure you’re not working on a Friday, you might as well check it out and get your music sorted for the long weekend!


Free Music

Filed under: Art,Fun,music — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:01 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

No, really, free and legal.

Okay, granted, it’s probably music from indy bands that you’ve never heard of before, but, hey, it’s free.  And?  You have the joy of knowing that you’ll be discovering bands that your hipster friends have never heard of before.  For real.  Also, did I mention that it’s free and legal?  Yeah, so, why not go check it out.
The site is Epitonic.com

C’mon, it’s Friday and not like you were really working anyway….



Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Filed under: Art,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Movies,music,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is in the late evening or 10:56 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

The movie so good it got me to blog a review after months of slacking.

Yeah, I loved it.
So, right, this movie is based on the award-winning and very popular independent comic series of the same name. The comic, and the movie, follow the love-life of the title character, Scott Pilgrim, played by Michael Cera as he tries to avoid his under-age Chinese stalker, Knives Chau, played by Ellen Wong, and date, instead, the girl, quite literally of his dreams, Ramona Flowers, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead. The only problem is, to date Ramona, Scott has to defeat her seven evil ex’s in a battle to the death. But, nothing is quite as easy as it seems, and each ex is more difficult to defeat than the last, much like a video game.

In fact, as Scott defeats each villain, he’s rewarded in video-game fashion with a glowing numeric display of points and then they burst into coins. Yes, coins. Oh, and there’s plenty of video-game themed music, too. But, don’t think you have to be either a gamer or a comic fan to “get” this movie! I mean, if you’ve participated in pop culture at all and are under the age of 60, you shouldn’t have any trouble keeping up.
But, speaking of music, the sound-track on this film rocks! Literally! For starters, a significant contributor to the soundtrack is Beck. Not only as a solo artist, but also as part of Sex Bob-Omb, the band to which Scott and his friends belong. And, that band participation is significant to the plot as they battle other local bands to get a recording contract and a big gig at a big club. Seriously, though, the music is all great and adds a lot to the film. At least, I enjoyed it. Mostly a rock soundtrack, but with the addition of video-game tunes, which enhance the movie.

The whole thing was fun.
Sure, it was sort of a chick-flick, but not in a bad way or as much as you might imagine. I mean, yes, it is about dating and romance and the trials and tribulations of ex’s, but it’s far more fun than it sounds. Because, it’s a comedy, in case Michael Cera being in the cast didn’t give it away. Frankly, the whole thing is just fun and, wow, I can’t remember the last time I saw that in a Summer movie! Seriously! I mean, that’s what Summer movies are supposed to be all about, right? Well, this one actually is! Honestly, I wish I were dating someone so I could have taken her to see it, because it was such a cute, fun film that I’m confident it would have gotten me laid. Seriously.

Mostly, I can’t go into the plot too much, because it would be 100% spoilers, but it’s all about Scott and Ramona, and dating, and love, and music, and the band, and defeating evil ex’s. But, the basic plot is, well, that last sentence pretty well sums it up. I mean, Scott trying to get Ramona and make music with his band and, well, again, defeat those evil ex’s, is pretty much everything that happens in the movie, but, somehow, that paltry description doesn’t capture the fun and adventure of this movie. Trust me, though, when I tell you that it was fast-paced, filled with action, and romance and even a life-lesson or two.

Long-time readers of this blog know that I rarely see movies more than once in the theater, so, they’ll get the impact of this statement; I would happily see this movie again, at full price. I loved this movie that much.
If you like pop music, or if you’ve ever been in love, or if you’ve ever fought against impossible odds to pursue the companion of your dreams, you will love Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Go see it.
Trust me.

Update: Want to see what I’m talking about with the music?  Check out some selections from the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Soundtrack.


iPod DJ Mixer

Filed under: Adventures with iPods,Art,Fun,music — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:12 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Ever want to be a DJ?

Back in the day, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and I was of an age to attend house parties, DJs spun records.  But, those days are long, long gone and everyone uses MP3 players now.  So, what’s an aspiring DJ to do?  Hit UrbanOutfitters and grab a $120 iPod DJ Mixer.  I recommend getting a book to go with that called The Pocket DJ.  It’s a little dated, but a good place for newbies like me to start.  The two are the key to your digital DJ success!


Ultrasonic Ringtones

Filed under: Art,Fun,music — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:04 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Oh, sweet Jesus, I’m old.

So, some time back, there was this article about how kids could hear these ultrasonic tones that older adults couldn’t.  Shopkeepers in the UK were using that to their advantage to drive away teen-age loiterers with ultrasonics.  Well, those sneaky kids have turned the tables and are using ultrasonic ring tones in school.  They can hear them, but the teachers can’t.  Sneaky.

Oh, and if you think you aren’t old?  Go to Ultrasonic Ringtones and see how many you can hear.  Thanks to my tinnitus from working in server rooms, my ears are all but shot in the high frequency ranges.  Also, I’m old, old, old.


Linux Home Theater PC

Filed under: Fun,Fun Work,Linux,Movies,music — 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 New Moon

No, I haven’t done it. Yet.

But, when I do, I probably won’t end up using MythTV, like I thought I would. Rather, I think I’ll be using BoxxeeBox. Where MythTV is geared toward making a DVR, like Tivo, BoxxeeBox is more geared toward making home theater/multimedia machine, which is really what I want.

So, yeah, there are options.  Check this one out if you’re thinking about building a home theater machine.  It’s worth considering.

(And, yes, I’m trying to clean out old posts that have been lingering as drafts again.  New Year and all.)


Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies,music,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:43 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

Well, I do, for one.

“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”, for those of you who don’t know, translates, roughly, to “Who watches the watchmen?” And, yes, it’s been made more famous by popular culture and a little comic book series, later gathered into a graphic novel, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons titled “The Watchmen”

The story, in brief, is about a group of retired heroes. Well, more like masked vigilantes, since only one of them, Dr. Manhattan, really has super-powers, per se. The story opens with a murder. The victim is a brutal man who went by the name The Comedian, though he was far from funny. The rest of the story then is the quest of a fellow “hero”, named Rorschach, to solve this murder. Naturally, he visits The Comedian’s old friends and enemies and gets into quite a bit of trouble himself along the way. And, as he follows his investigation, he stirs up old memories, which we see as flashbacks. One thing I liked about both the comic and the movie is that it took Stan Lee’s idea of showing us a more human superhero to the limit. We see so-called heroes being petty and brutal and sad. We see them love and hate and argue, just like real people would. Except, of course, these people move in a very different circle than we do indeed.
The entire story takes place in an alternate history where Nixon is elected for a third term in office and many other things have been altered or influenced by the addition of masked crusaders, super-science, mad geniuses, and at least one God-like super-being. It’s an interesting world, to say the least.
I won’t ruin either the comic or the movie by telling you how it ends, but, let’s just say that there are twists and turns and global plots involved worth of the best comic books and handled as well as any superior fiction can handle them. Both, I think, are well done.

Now, that being said, I’ll probably be at odds with the fanboys on this, but I liked the movie.
The movie followed the graphic novel quite closely, though there were many things that had to be edited out for time. The running time was fairly close to a full two-hours and forty-five minutes, but my understanding is that there is a giant “director’s cut” version planned for the DVD release that runs a full FIVE hours. I can see how they might manage that if they filmed every scene in the book. It’s quite dense. However, one reason to actually read, or re-read, the graphic novel before seeing the film is that doing so will help fill in the gaps that exist, by necessity, in the film. For instance, there was just a brief mention of Rorschach’s origin and no explanation of how he got his ever-changing ink-blot mask, which confused the person I went to see the movie with who was not a fan of the comic. (Though, I think it’s important to note that he is a comic fanboy, just mainly the Darkknight and more mainstream books.) Also, I think they could have cut some of the sex from the movie. Granted, I’m sure the scene where the Silk Spectre and Nite Owl get their freak on in “Archie”, Nite Owl’s flying car, helped get them their R-rating, they still could have trimmed it down to make room for something else a little more germane to the plot. The attempted rape scene, though it may seem a bit gratuitous, does at least have a central focus to at least one sub-plot, so I can see having it in there, but even that seemed… Well, they seemed to linger a bit longer on some of that than the plot really required. Oh, and as a word of warning, you do see quite a bit of Dr. Manhattan’s giant, blue, glowing penis, so if that sort of thing bothers you, well, you’ve been warned. The violence is, at times, extreme, though no more extreme than what’s pictured in the graphic novel. Of course, seeing it on screen does make quite an impact. My friend is far from squeamish, but I noticed he flinched several times, as did I, at parts of the ultra-violence. As an example, there’s a bit with a meat cleaver that really drives home just how brutal and savage the world, and Rorschach, can be, not to mention another moment with a load of hot oil from a deep fryer that is startling to someone who’s not anticipating it. There are other moments of brutality, also, but many of them seem, well, rather like comic-book violence and have no more impact than any other action-movie violence.
And, I should also add that the soundtrack was wonderful.  Lots and lots of Sixties classics.  It was a wonderful companion to the visual aspects of the movie.

The fanboys will be up in arms, no doubt, about what was cut and the relatively minor change in the ending. I won’t reveal that here for anyone who wants to see the movie, but, personally, I didn’t find it all that distracting or even very noticeable at all. In fact, I had to come home and whip out the graphic novel to check was had been changed!

I enjoyed this movie quite a bit and I’ll happily being seeing it again with some other friends, I’m sure. Though, the next time, I’ll definitely pee first. I sat through almost two hours of this movie with a brick-hard bladder so as not to miss a thing. And, I guess that should tell you how good I thought the movie really was. Not quite a Darkknight, but still, one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.
I’m sure Watchmen will prove to be one of the better movies of the year, no matter what the crazed fanboys or the out-of-touch critics think. Well worth seeing.

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