Diary of a Network Geek

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

3/27/2020

Random Stay-At-Home Resources

Filed under: Fun,Hoffman's Home for Wayward Boys,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Photography,The Network Geek at Home — 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

This may become a theme while we all wait out this COVID-19 virus.

This week, I finally got everyone else at work all set to work from home, if at all possible, and started working from home myself. I was surprised how much of my work is often determined by people in the office having problems. I shouldn’t be, though, considering how many times I tell fellow techs that the only reason we have jobs is because other people have problems.
In any case, I have a couple of links that I hope will help you solve some of the unusual problems you may be running into at home these days, thanks to the quarantine. Some may be more fun than others!
First, if you’re like us, you’ve been eating a little differently than normal. My wife is pretty incredible about coming up with meals that use whatever she happens to have on the shelf or in the freezer, but thinking of delicious meals with limited resources can be a huge challenger right now. Thankfully, BoingBoing pointed me to SuperCook! It’s a free website that will help you find recipes from the most popular cooking websites that use whatever ingredients you select. It’s pretty amazing, and it’s got some great suggestions that, I hope, will break up the monotony of cooking at home, when it’s a challenge to eat out. There’s also an iPhone and an Android app for you, if that’s what you prefer. (Links are on the website.)
But, if you’re willing to risk the delivery schedules, and want to add something more interesting, or exotic, or just plain fancy, you can try one of these mail-order food sites, reviewed by Esquire. They might get a little pricey, but you’ll definitely be getting unique and interesting ingredients to, if you’ll pardon the pun, “spice up” your regular, day-to-day meal and flavor options.

On a somewhat lighter note, while we’re talking about groceries, you may have had some “experiences” trying to get things at grocery stores recently. In particular, for some reason, people have been panic buying toilet paper. Well, I can’t help you get any of the desperately desired commodity, but, thanks to BoingBoing, I can share a video that explains the phenomena of panic buying. It’s actually a pretty good look at why, of all things, toilet paper, is in short supply lately.

And, this week, I’ve got two links for the grown-ups who have gotten bored and want to finally get some use out of that expensive camera they got for Christmas. The first of these two links is geared toward the potential professional photographer; Professional Photographers of America more than 1100 online photo classes for free. Of course, we don’t know how long they’ll offer these free, but if you’ve got a camera and internet access, you can take some classes and either develop a “side hustle”, or maybe even a new career, if you’re afraid of being laid off. And, that’s assuming you haven’t been already due to either the economic fall out of COVID-19 or the disastrously low price of oil.
The other link for photographers is a little more fun. 7 Photo Challenges for Photographers Who Are Stuck at Home. Amateur or pro, there’s nothing like a good challenge to keep the skills sharp.

So, there you have it. Some links to help you get through the next week. No telling how long we’ll all be locked down, so there’s no telling what I’ll post for you next week. The longer I’m home, though, the stranger things are likely to get.
Stay safe! Stay home! Wash your hands!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

3/20/2020

Miscellaneous Fun Links

Filed under: Art,Fun,Fun and Games,News and Current Events,Personal Care — 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 Waning Crescent

Look, it’s been a crazy, chaotic week, which means you’re getting a crazy, chaotic post.
So, like all the rest of the IT pros in small shops all over the world this week, I’ve been scrambling to get as many people in my office able to work from home as possible. It’s been a long, frustrating week and basically nothing has gone the way I’d planned. Granted, that does mean that some things are actually better than I planned, but, honestly, most aren’t. Either way, it’s left me precious little time and focus to give you anything coherent. But, it is still a Friday and I feel compelled to share something. So, random fun links it shall be!
A lot of folks are stuck at home with their kids, who are out of school because it’s been closed while the academic year has been delayed. So, to help parents keep kids engaged, I have two links for you. First, there are Free NASA Space Projects via Space.com. I’m in the greater Houston area and we all get a little into NASA, because they’re such a big employer here and we have so much amazing history with the space program. These projects are all things you can do at home and keep learning while the schools figure things out. The second link is to a downloadable Cthulhu coloring book from Chaosium. Yes, it may warp their little minds, but it’s coloring! And, coloring is good, clean fun, as well as a known way to reduce stress and anxiety. Though, I’m not responsible if you all summon an Elder God!
The next two links are for book lovers. Specifically for book lovers who love science fiction and fantasy. First, or third, depending on how you’re counting, there’s the Tor eBook Club, which regularly offers free ebooks from popular authors. Through the end of the day of this posting, you can join and download Redshirts by John Scalzi! Or, you can check out the fourth link, the Baen Books Free Library! Again, ebooks, but free and from some very well known, award-winning authors. Both are just the thing if you’re looking for something new to read without spending a lot of money.
And, finally, a slightly stranger than normal link, specifically for our most current concerns, How Much Toilet Paper!?, a website that will help you calculate just how far your stash of toilet paper will last during this most current, or any future, pandemics! A fun, and hopefully funny, website about an increasingly serious topic. And, I know that first hand as I actually ordered toilet paper for my older parents online and had it sent to them. And, that’s no joke.

So, seriously, take care of yourselves and each other. Don’t go out more than you need to. Wash your hands. Stop panic-buying essentials that we all need. And, stay safe.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!  My other blog.

3/13/2020

Escape Vehicles

Filed under: Art,Fun,Speculation — 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 Waning Gibbous

And, by that I mean escapism by way of space vehicles.

At this point it shouldn’t be a surprise that I love science fiction. Whether it’s literature, movies, television or even comic books, I pretty much love it all. What’s more, I often find myself theorizing about it. Frankly, at this point I would imagine that my poor wife is tired of me comparing modern military submarines to the future of military spacecraft. I mean, it’s logical when you look at it, but it seems like so few have!
In any case, when I hear about other geeks like me who speculate on the ins and outs of scifi spacecraft, I get excited. And, that’s what I’m bringing you this week, via Boing Boing, Spacedock, the YouTube channel that looks at the “…specifications, history and lore of fictional spacecraft from science fiction. Any Spacecraft, any Sci-Fi.” Yes, it’s as geeky and fun as it sounds. Seriously, their “How To Land on the Battlestar Galactica is an amazing exploration of what we saw in the show and an excellent extrapolation of what we didn’t see, but had to have been there to make the rest work. It’s definitely worth a look for fans.

Besides, it’s Friday and if you’ve been stuck at home out of COVID-19 fear, you deserve a little escapism.
Enjoy! And stay well.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

3/6/2020

Occupational Training Failure

Filed under: Fun,Fun and Games — 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 Gibbous

For dogs.

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks with threats of global pandemics and the primary elections here in the US, not to mention all the other insanity we all deal with on a daily basis these days. I don’t even want to go into my own work insanity, because; a) they might be reading and b) it’s mostly technical IT geekery that normal readers like yourselves really don’t care about. But, trust me when I tell you, if you’re feeling a little nuts this week, you’re not alone.
So, with that in mind, I bring you an uplifting link directly from Boing Boing; Dog Fails Service Animal Test. And, trust me when I say that not only did he fail, but he epically failed. If you don’t find yourself laughing along with his trainer, who ultimately adopted him, then I can turn your week around for you. You’ll need expert help. Either way, seriously, you have to see the videos to believe it. Not every dog is meant to be a service animal and this video is proof. To be fair, Ryker is a happy dog that clearly wants to please his trainer, but just can’t quite figure out the whole service dog thing no matter how enthusiastically he tries. Watch the videos and you’ll see what I mean.

Enjoy! And, have a good weekend!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

2/28/2020

Martial Arts Fakers

Filed under: Fun,Movies — 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

Mystic martial arts hoaxers.

To be fair, I think these people do at least partially believe that this is real.
If you’re my age, you probably remember the ads in the back of comic books promising martial arts skills and near magic powers via correspondence courses, or even a single book or pamphlet. As a kid, a skinny kid who was often bullied in one way or another, I wished those things were true. As a slightly older kid and an adult, I knew they weren’t really true. I think a part of me still wanted to believe them, but, by the time I was in college, I knew they weren’t anything more than wishful thinking. Or, maybe, at best, a metaphor for a way of looking at how the martial arts fit into a larger world. And, don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of things about martial arts I really love. But, like anything that’s popular and been around for a long time, there are plenty of people looking to take advantage.
So, today, in that spirit, I bring you The Bizarre World of Fake Martial Arts. It’s about 30 minutes and worth every second. It starts by looking at some of the stranger, and funnier, fake martial artists from the 70’s and goes all the way to the Chinese MMA fighter showing that all too many of the modern Chinese martial arts masters are, well, not quite able to deliver on some of their promises to potential students. There’s a lot packed into a 30 minute video and I’m grateful to Boing Boing for bringing it to my attention. And, now yours.

Enjoy!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

2/21/2020

Legit Free Airport Wifi

Filed under: Better Living Through Technology,Fun — 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 Waning Crescent

A little aid for the travellers.

Back in the days that I was one of those “road warriors” who spent countless hours in airports waiting for flights, wifi wasn’t even really a thing. Certainly not free wifi in the airports. Now, of course, not only is free wifi something that has come and, mostly, gone again, but it’s become such a normal part of life that it’s almost an expected amenity. Still for those of us who fly peasant class these days, and have to suffer through the interminable waits at security check-points, only to wait longer at a gate for our flight, having wifi can be a soothing balm. Sadly, all too many places charge for it now. And, that means, that your cheapskate Uncle Jim has brought you a set of free, or nearly free, things to circumvent the wifi misers.
This all comes to us via Lifehacker, naturally, as so many of my best and useful links do. Still, not all of you read Lifehacker, so I feel like I’m still doing a service here. And, of course, it’s easier to search my own site than theirs!
The map with all the info is a Google maps called Wireless Passwords from Airports and Lounges Around the World and it’s just what the name says. The map has airports marked on it with notes that have free wifi passwords and, as needed for clarity, the name of the wifi networks available. The developer, a travel enthusiast named Anil Polat, aka foXnoMad, started this project back in 2016 and updates the map with information from helpful travelers regularly. He’s also got two apps for “off-line” access available on the Apple AppStore and Google Play. The apps are NOT free, but the iOS version is only $1.99 which, I think, more than makes up for getting free wifi in airports.

So, there you have it. It’s a little late for the holiday travel season, but still, a pretty useful set of links, I think, for the regular traveler.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

2/14/2020

Happy St. Valentine’s Day

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Fun,News and Current Events — 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 Waning Gibbous

Today is St. Valentine’s Day.

Today, we are told, is the one day we should openly display our love for a partner. I used to be quite bitter about this holiday both as a very single person and as a divorced person, because I found the heavy emphasis on something I thought I didn’t have frustrating and shameful. After all, what was wrong with me that no one “loved” me enough to want to be with me? I admit, I feel less strongly about it now that I’m married. It’s easy to relax about a holiday created by greeting card companies and confectioners to generate revenue when you’ve actually made a lasting commitment to someone truly wonderful. (If you read this and are friends with my blushing bride, please, for me, tell her I said she was wonderful!)
In church, Sunday, they’re likely to read First Corinthians, Chapter 13, verses 4-7, which are “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
I don’t know what Paul had in mind when he wrote that bit, but, from what I know about my least favorite Apostle, he probably didn’t intend for it to be a guide to long-term, romantic-relationship success. Regardless, it functions as that pretty well. It is what I strive for with my wife, for sure. I think she’d agree that I do better at that ideal with each passing year, even if I am far from perfect in that regard. (And, my apologies to anyone I was involved with previously. Rest assured, I’m still a mostly terrible person and you’re not missing out on a thing and I’m also sincerely sorry for whatever I may have put you through when we were together. Honest.)

And, if all of that is just too much to bear, you can always celebrate this day as the anniversary of when a fellow Chicagoan, Al Capone, rounded up seven of his closest buddies and gunned them down in the back alleys of the South Side of Chicago. Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre! It was on this day, in 1929, that the rivalry between Bugs Moran and Al Capone reached its violent and bloody peak, leaving seven, bloody corpses in its wake, along with damaging both Moran’s North Side Gang and, ultimately, bringing so much attention to Capone from the FBI that it effectively ended his criminal career, as well.
Truly, a turning point in the criminal history of Chicago.

So, whatever your feelings about this particular holiday, try to cut yourself a little slack. We’re all feeling the pressure to be more these days. Try to love the ones close to you a little more and a little more consciously. And, most of all, remember, your relationship isn’t measured by how well or poorly things go today, but how you treat each other the other 364 days of the year.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

2/7/2020

Stock Canadian Images

Filed under: Art,Fun — 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 Gibbous

Canadians have a delightfully odd sense of humor.

And, I mean that in the best way possible.
CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, the company responsible for the administration of the .CA domain, wants to encourage Canadians on the internet to, well, be Canadian “out loud”, if you will. To that end, they provide a number of resources to help Canadian webizens get stuff done on the internet. The best thing they provide, though, is the very, very Canadian library of stock images. The theme here is ultra Canadian and there’s flannel, maple syrup, hockey or a moose in every photo. Sometimes, there’s all those things in a single stock image. If you’re not Canadian, I’m not sure how much use these will be to you, but they were too funny not to share them.

Come back next week to see if the free junk from the internet I link to is stranger than that!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

1/31/2020

Pre-Written Emails

Filed under: Better Living Through Technology,Fun,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 Waxing Crescent

I love short-cuts and time-saving templates.

When I was a kid, my mother had a book of example letters for every occasion. I loved that book and the idea behind it. Every page was a pre-written example letter or template that addressed a problem. All you had to do was copy that letter, change the names and specific circumstances for your particular situation, and you were all set. When I skimmed through that book, I felt like I was going to see a huge, exciting world as an adult and these were the keys to unlock all the doors to that adult world.
As a young adult, I actually got an updated copy of that book which came with a CD of templates for those letters. You could open them in your favorite word processor and customize them as required. Now, with the internet, I don’t really need those books, or that CD, because I can find anything I might need out there, somewhere.
One site, Canned Emails, has the very modern equivalent of those template letters. And, you can even choose between the raw text of them, or actually use the website to send the emails via your email client!
The emails are all pretty basic, but they cover a wide range of regular communications and, honestly, sometimes keeping it short and to the point is the best way to go any way.

See you next week with, well, something. Honestly, I haven’t planned that far in advance. So, I’ll be as surprised as you!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words! But, I keep thinking I should rename it to The Cheerful Nihilist or something else ironic like that.

1/24/2020

DIY Nutrition Labels

Filed under: Fun,Personal Care — 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 New Moon

Just like at the factory farm.

I was going to just gloss over why I was looking for this and get right to the fun, but, let’s face it; at this point I’m pretty much writing this blog for myself. So, my blushing bride was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome a couple weeks ago and she read that one thing which might help is going to basically a ketogenic diet. That led me to look for some DIY keto-friendly energy bars, which I were shelf stable and I could seal up in a small food vacuum storage bag. (You can find my latest recipe discoveries on my Pinterest Recipies and Cooking board.) And, all that led me to think it would be fun to put a nutrition label on my creations.
So, first, I’d need to break down the ingredients in the recipe so I could enter it into the label. After searching around, I found two that analyze the recipe and generate the label. First, there’s cleverly named recipenutrition.com. It’s really simple to use and free. Then, there’s the even more user friendly Very Well Fit site’s Recipe Nutrition Analyzer. Both are free and give you a basic nutrition label.
Finally, if you want to take the output from those labels and make something that’s a little fancier, you can grab your info and head to the Nutrition Label Generator at OnlineLabels.com. Also free, but you’re got to have your data already worked out.
And, while these look like great labels, I’d make sure they were up to FDA standards before using them on a commercial product. Can’t be too safe!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!
(Gee, I miss the plugin that used to cross post and attribute for me.  I know I ought to write one, but who has the time?)

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