Diary of a Network Geek

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

7/15/2016

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.

7/8/2016

What Theme Is That WordPress Running?

Filed under: Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work,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 Crescent

Okay, so this may not matter to a lot of my readers who aren’t designers, programmers or WordPress enthusiasts.

But, it does matter to me.
I cannot tell you how many times I have seen a site and wanted to know what they were running.  Most of the time, I just go over to Netcraft and check to see what kind of server and content management system they’re running.  But, sometimes, when I see that they’re running WordPress, I often want to know more, like what theme the site is running or what plugins it’s using.  The problem is, while I can usually look at the code and see what theme they’re running, it’s almost impossible to get any of the plugins, too.
Well, the other night while looking for something else, I found the WordPress Theme Detector, which can tell me all of that information and a little more.  It’s a free service and all you need to do is put in the URL of the site you’re curious about to get the 411.

That ought to kill a little time while you drop your favorite blogs in there to see what they’re running!
Enjoy!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

5/13/2016

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.

4/29/2016

Evernote IT Documentation Templates

Filed under: Fun,Geek Work,Never trust a Network Admin with a screwdriver,Red Herrings,The Day Job,The Tools — 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 Third Quarter Moon

Prepare yourself for some high-intensity geekery!

No, seriously.
So, I’ve been contracting somewhere that has virtually no network documentation and what little they did have got destroyed in a catastrophic event.  For privacy and security, not to mention client confidentiality, I won’t go into details on that.  But, as a result, one of the things I’ve been doing is rediscovering their network and documenting it as fully as possible.  For that, I’ve been searching out and using various templates.
Also, in a seemingly unrelated course of events, I’ve recently started using Evernote as part of my Getting Things Done revival.  I’ve been re-reading Getting Things Done, originally in preparation for starting a new job, and trying to get it going again in all areas of my life to better manage my time and efforts.  My wife raved about both GTD and Evernote, so I splurged and bought the $10 document from David Allen’s web store on setting up Evernote so that it was optimized for GTD.  It was some of the best money I’ve spent in a long, long time.  This combination is so completely awesome!

But, what’s even more awesome is the power of Evernote templates.  Their templates are really just a blank document that’s formatted in a particular way that serves as a starting point for a regular note style that you make over and over again.  They’ve written up a whole article on it; How-to: Save Time with Templates.  If you’re working with Evernote, it’s definitely worth the time and trouble.  My personal template library is hitting 59 items right now, but I’m sure there will be more.
And, that, finally, leads me to my Friday Freebie; EvernoteITDocumentationTemplates. These are a collection of six templates, so far, that I’ve munged together to let you more easily record the basic information an IT professional might need to capture about devices on their network.  I have no doubt there will eventually be more.  In any case, go ahead and download these and enjoy them.
To get those into your personal Evernote, check out their article How to Backup and Restore Notes and Notebooks.  It’s got step-by-step instructions there for getting started.
Good luck and enjoy!

4/22/2016

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!

4/15/2016

Security In A Box

Filed under: Geek Work,Red Herrings,The Dark Side,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 Waxing Gibbous

First of all, you should know I’m talking about computer security, not home security.

Secondly, know that “in a box” really means something more like “all in one place”.
I’m suggesting this site this week because security is on my mind.  Not only in a corporate sense, but in a personal sense.  In a professional setting, I’ve brushed up against something that could conceivably heighten scrutiny of my own personal foot-print on the internet.  And, I’ve had a particular address from a particular Eastern European country banging against on of my WordPress installations pretty hard this past week.  All of which added up to me checking my collected links for a security themed site I could share with you all.
The site is called Security In A Box and it’s a collection of tips, advice and links to programs meant to help keep you safe on the internet.  Their advice covers everything from creating good passwords to staying safe on social media.  And, they have group-specific suggestions for special interest groups who might have an additional level of scrutiny, either by other special interest groups or governments.  It’s quite a good site for everyone, of course, but of special interest to anyone who might find themselves at the sharp end of one of the many sharpened sticks running loose on the internet without keepers.

So, stay safe this weekend and enjoy the lovely weather while it lasts!

4/1/2016

Expense and Tax Tools

Filed under: Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Red Herrings,The Tools — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:54 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

So, it looks like I’m going to be an independent contractor for a bit.

And, that means tracking expenses and tracking billable hours, as well as the taxes I have to pay on that.  Since I’m an iPhone user, that means that, yes, there’s an app for that.  Or, ten apps, actually.  From eWeek, Ten Tax Filing, Expense Tracking Tools to Keep the IRS Happy.  Because, really, we all just want to avoid an audit or any Imperial entanglements.
And, frankly, I’m exhausted this week and all my creativity and wit has been drained into trying to help my client rebuild from a devastating data-loss that may ultimately result in some legal action.  It’s bad.  Really bad.  And, I’m pretty worn out this week.
So, I posted this and hopefully, you’ll get something better next week.  Maybe a review of the network audit tools I’ve been using to catalog what they have, and will have again.
(And, no, I don’t even have the energy to run an April Fool’s joke.  Seriously.  I’m that drained this week.)
Have a great weekend, y’all!

3/25/2016

How Not To Get Hired

Filed under: Fun,Fun Work,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:17 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Do you sense a theme in my posts lately?

So, yes, I’m still looking for work and it’s still on my mind.
I’ve had some phone interviews and I think something is about to break, but I don’t want to jinx it by going into details.  So, instead, I’m going to talk about what terrifies a job candidate most; the interview.  Let’s face it, even those of us who have done a bunch of these still dread them.  I, personally, think I interview well, but I still hate having to do them.  I’m always sure that I’m going to say the wrong thing and submarine my chances.  And, to be completely honest, at least once, I did.  Granted, that was fourteen years ago and I’ve learned from the mistake, but, still, I think about it every time I get ready to interview.
But, it’s Friday, so let’s not dwell on the existential dread of job interviews.  Instead, let’s laugh about them!  Vitamin T, with the help of the Webbys and Upright Citizens Brigade, have put together four uncomfortably funny videos about How Not To Get Hired In the Tech Industry.  I can tell you that I’ve encounter all four types of people in the tech industry, though, thankfully, not when I was a hiring manager.

In any case, it’s Friday and the videos are funny, so enjoy!  (And have a Happy Easter!)

3/10/2016

Re-Organizing

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Career Archive,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:29 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

It’s time to clean up my act.

Seriously.
My wife is a professional organizer and decorator, so those of you who know me well know how she suffered when she first moved in with me.  I hadn’t devolved into a complete hoarder, but I had gotten an unfortunately significant start.  She dug me out.  Honestly, I wish I had her ability to let go of things, but I tend to hold on to too much.  Naturally, when she asked me to read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I just about had a panic attack.  But, I did read it and, once I got past some of the ways the author talks about discarding things, I could see why my blushing bride loved the book.  In spite of whatever reviews you may have read about the extreme method described, it’s really not so terrifying.  The essence of it is to get rid of the things that you don’t use or need or want any more, to make room, both literally and figuratively.
I’m not saying that it’s been easy for me to do, because it hasn’t, but I do find myself thinking about what I really need and use quite a bit.  The reality is, I have too much stuff to really keep track of it all.  So, I’ve been taking some of the time I have, while I wait to get connected to my next work opportunity, to reevaluate and clean out.
I have told myself for a long time that I don’t like change, that I’m not good with it.  But, that’s not really true.  Sure, I like to control change, but in many areas of my life, I’m constantly changing, growing, trying new ideas and methods, keeping what works and discarding the rest.  One area that I haven’t been working at as much lately is my personal organization and scheduling.  I’ve been very reactive and not nearly proactive enough to suit me.

I used to be a “to do list” fanatic.  Every day I’d start my day with a fresh list, carrying over the things I didn’t finish from the previous day, and adding to it.  On Friday, I’d set my list up for Monday before I left the office.  First thing Monday, I’d review the list and see if I thought of anything else to add over the weekend, because my brain just will not shut off and stop thinking about work.  It’s how I’m wired, I guess.
Mainly, though, I loved crossing things off my list.
I know, it’s a strange thing, but the idea of crossing something off my list actually gave me a little thrill.  And, when I’d get to the end of the day, I’d see all the things I’d crossed off and think about how great it was to get all that stuff done.  Somewhere, though, in all the jobs and the “life stuff”, like getting married, divorced, beating cancer and getting married again, I lost that habit.  I tried to “leverage technology” and my smart phone to get a to do list app that would synchronize with my computer, but, frankly, nothing ever worked to my satisfaction.  And, of course, it was a convenient excuse for why I stopped doing it.
Some time back, I read Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen and I sort of made a half-hearted attempt to set some of his system up, but, honestly I never put enough effort into it. At the time, his book didn’t have a lot of technological help for geeks like me that wanted to use the cloud to keep things synched up.  I need to find out what’s changed, because the time is ripe for me to re-read that book and, as my wife and I reorganize our physical space, get my mental space in order and prepared for a new job.  This is the perfect time to get reorganized and have my system in place, ready to go, before I land somewhere and have an endless stream of projects to track.

So tell me, gentle readers, what do you use to stay organized?  If you’re a fan of the GTD method, what tech tools do you use to stay on track?


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed."
   --Cavett Robert

3/4/2016

A Free Civilization

Filed under: Art,Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:22 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

No, this is not a political post.

I do my best not to openly participate in politics, frankly, because it all seems like a fool’s game.  On the other hand, simulation games have been known to unduly entertain me for embarrassingly extended lengths of time.  For a lot of my childhood, I played role-playing games.  For those of you familiar with my chosen profession probably won’t find that too surprising.  It seems like all the middle-aged professional geeks I know played…
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