Diary of a Network Geek

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


Magazine Subscriptions

Filed under: Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Personal,The Network Geek at Home,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:35 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I probably should have specified magazine subscriptions that I let lapse for a reason when I put up that poll.

For instance, Writer’s Digest. Writer’s Digest recycles the same writing articles, or article subjects, about every 18 months. Nothing I haven’t read or don’t have in a book.
Or, National Geographic. Nice magazine with wonderful pictures, but I hate to throw it away and it takes up a lot of room.
Smithsonian magazine. I stopped that one because my ex-wife insisted we get it, but, after getting me to spend the money, never read a single issue or article. Ever. It’s a nice enough magazine, sure, but the articles are so wordy and often not on subjects that interest me and, yet, I feel guilty when I don’t read it because the entire magazine is so damn educational.

Oh, and that cutie from Match? Hasn’t responded to the last e-mail I sent Saturday morning. And her profile seems to be missing now. Do you think it was something I said? 😉


Queued Emotions

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:46 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

You know, I should proofread these silly posts more closely.

I’ve mentioned on this blog before that I tend to queue up posts when I’m in a writerly mood so that I have them ready to go later. In fact, I have a bunch just sitting there, staring at me, waiting for me to be in the right mood to post them. This week, I turned two loose that had been in the queue for varying amounts of time. One was only there for a couple of days, but the other had been sitting there for close to six weeks. As a result, there were some things that hadn’t been clear to me when I wrote it that are clear to me now. Yes, I’m talking about where my relationship with LK stands. (We’re friends, now, incidentally. We finally both realized that, while we like the other person quite a lot, anything more intimate probably wouldn’t work well for either of us in the long-term. Sad, but true.) But, you see, earlier this week, I got an e-mail from a friend in a distant land who was concerned about me because I hadn’t been keeping up my regular posting schedule. So, without looking too carefully, I fired two queued posts into the blogosphere. Sadly, I hadn’t checked the second one closely enough and it was a slightly more “live round” than I’d intended. Whoops!

Oh, well, at least my loyal readers can learn from my mistake! 😉
Oh, and one more thing, before I forget… Some cute, local gal sent me a message on Match.com last night. Totally out of the blue, completely unexpected and totally cool. Just, you know, FYI, in case anyone was wondering.

Don’t forget to vote in the opinion poll in my sidebar!

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn't stop to enjoy it."
   --W. Feather

Sysadmin Day!

Filed under: Career Archive,Certification,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work,Linux,MicroSoft,News and Current Events,Novell,Ooo, shiny... — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Today is System Administrators Appreciation Day.

Today is a day set aside to give thanks that either: a) someone else manages your servers, or b) you have servers to manage. It’s not an official holiday, yet, but, much like “Administrative Professionals” Day (aka Secretaries Day), it’s a day to think about the “little people” that make your job possible. This is the seventh annual System Administrators Appreciation Day and, to date, no one has done a damn thing for me. I’m so unloved.
Actually, that pretty well sums up my life in IT. I’m the glue that holds the network together and virtually no one knows, notices, or understands what I do. Well, at least I have this small and hollow comfort that someone, somewhere cares enough to setup a webpage dedicated to guys like me.

Anyhow, it’s Friday and your sysadmin has kept the network running long enough for you to read this, so you might as well click on this link and get him something nice for next year! (If your wallet is feeling up to it and you want to show me how much you appreciate my work, you can get me something from my ThinkGeek Wishlist. Hey, a guy can dream!)


Anonymous Blogging

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Hoffman's Home for Wayward Boys,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 9:29 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.

The EFF has put out a little HOWTO on HowTo Blog Anonymously. Now, this might not seem like a big deal, but if you’re blogging about work or some other sensitive topic, it can mean the difference between a paycheck or not, or, even doing jail-time, or not. The reason I’ve been thinking about it is that so many people know me and my blog. I have all sorts of friends and relatives who read my blog and, of course, potential employers read it, too. All of that means that I self-censor fairly heavily. Notice, for instance, how little I say about the poor, dear thing that I’ve been dating? No need for the crazy ex-wife, or her equally wacky new husband, to get all charged up about what a good or bad time I’m having with her. I mean, we all know how jealous she gets of anyone who might show any significant interest in me, though I really don’t know why she can’t seem to move on now that she’s re-married for the fourth, and hopefully final, time. Nor have I mentioned the roommate thing lately. He’s moved out, by the way, at my request. There were a number of reasons behind that, but, most importantly, I’m going back to Hoffman’s First Rule of Roommates: After college, never have a roomie with whom you’re not sleeping. Having someone else in the house just got on my nerves too much for my own good mental health, so, I shut down Hoffman’s Home for Wayward Boys for a bit. (Of course, I’ve been thinking of opening Hoffman’s Home for Unwed Mothers, but that’s a whole different post!)

Now, where was I? Oh, right, anonymous blogging. So, there are things that I’d love to rant about in a public or semi-public forum, but don’t want to associate with my Real Life persona. Things that I’d like to talk through via a blog that could be taken the wrong way by people who might read it. Not that I think most of my loyal readers care, but, still, you get the general idea, right? I haven’t gone so far as to start a hidden blog, yet, but it is something that I’ve thought about doing. And, if I ever do, I’ll use the EFF HowTo guide to do it!

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams."
   --John Barrymore


Liquid Caffeine Review & Hints

Filed under: By Bread Alone,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,NaNoWriMo,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:25 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

Now, for something completely different!

Okay, not so much completely, but, still, you get the idea.
Now, I don’t think of myself as a hacker, per se, because I haven’t done anything marginally illegal on a network in years. Opinions vary, of course, and, say, compared to someone trying to hide from weblogs via Google, I probably seem fairly hackerish. I will say that no personal computer project I’ve ever started before 9:00PM has been very interesting, though. And, that leads me to one of my favorite subjects: caffeine.

No, that’s not some code word for the latest release of Windows, I’m talking about actual caffeine of the variety that keeps you awake at night. If you aren’t familiar with all the chemical ways of keeping awake, you might be surprised at the large assortment of perfectly legal ways you can get caffeine. ThinkGeek has an amazingly large assortment of candy and drinks that you can get to keep going when the going gets tough. My favorite, though, is Sky Rocket Caffeinated Syrup. This, my gentle readers, is concentrated go juice. Back in the days when I was trying to maintain a relationship, manage a cohort of minions and, sadly, do most of their work because they weren’t capable, this is the stuff that kept me going. I especially liked a jigger of the mocha or vanilla flavor in my morning coffee. The product description says that it has 100Mg of caffeine in a 1 oz. serving, and laughingly suggests that is a reason that it should be used sparingly. I have no idea how much I used to pour into my cup with my coffee, but, let’s just say it increased my productivity in the morning enough that people noticed.

I recently tried Coke Blak, which is a carbonated coffee beverage. It comes in rather Coke-like bottles made from actual glass, but it tastes a lot different that any variety of Coca-Cola I’ve ever had. It’s not bad, exactlly, but it’s not my first choice, either. I couldn’t bring myself to drink it in the morning, but I had it for lunch and after dinner several times this past week. After that first, strange, surprising sip, and the wicked after-taste that followed, it wasn’t bad at all. It was best, however, when used instead of root beer as part of a demented ice cream experiment. Still, as interesting and different as Coke Blak is, it’ll never replace plain coffee or regular Coke.

Sadly, I’m on a rather tight budget these days, so I’m making do with out these liquid helpers. Until I have a little better cash flow, or at least until I start selling some of the antiques I haven’t any use for from around my house, I’ve started making my own Thai coffee. What’s that you ask? Why, it’s simplicity itself.
I discovered this cool, refreshing variation on go juice at a Houston local restaurant called Vung Thai, which is actually run by a Vietnamese family, so the pedigree of this nectar maybe a little cloudy. In any case, it was so great, I asked the owner what went into it.
“Nothing much,” he told me, “just strong coffee, lots of sugar and ‘heavy milk'”.
Turns out “heavy milk” is really just half-and-half. So, you can make this at home. Just brew up some good, strong coffee and then, while it’s still hot, stir in a lot of sugar. I mean a LOT of sugar. Then, let this cool off. After it’s cooled to at least room temperature, throw some ice into a fairly large glass and fill it to about half way with the super sugary cold coffee. Now, add half-and-half until the glass is full and enjoy.
I especially like this after dinner with someone interesting to talk with, since it will keep you up and alive for hours. In fact, that explains my lack of sleep this week as I’ve been experimenting with it again.

I’ve been thinking about sleepless nights again, not for a bad reason, but rather because I’m anticipating long days and nights when I attempt NaNoWriMo. Also, this was a way to introduce two new Categories: NaNoWriMo, of course, and By Bread Alone, for foodie-type things. So, there you go.


Geek Girl Gadgets

Filed under: Adventures with iPods,Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:20 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Well, at least they’re geek gadgets for girls.

So, in an attempt to win back my female readers after last week’s rather bland, but still slightly sexist, offering, I bring you Wild for Women’s Gadgets from Tech Republic. These are a collection of pictures of gadgets, those little do-dads that make our technological life a little sweeter. In this case, though, they’re gadgets designed by women for women. Apparently, just painting it pink isn’t enough of a market differentiation for the ladies these days. They have different needs than male geeks, which even I could have told those stupid marketers. So, there’s a largely untapped market.
Until now.

Also, while tooling around, I found a number of other, more stylish gadgets and accessories that surely must be aimed at the female of the geek species, as most male geeks have little to no style at all. (I like to think of myself as an exception, but, well, opinions vary.) A lot of these come from links at a place called StyleHive, so it’s probably worth checking them out. First, there’s the Sumo Laptop Purse that includes a portal for headphones. If I were dating a digital gal, this would be the top of my gift list for her. Seriously.
But, for the arty geek, there’s the Sail Back Pack, which isn’t exclusively for laptops, but works well. They’re made from recycled sails off yachts. Hey, it’s a kind of recycling!
Then there are these Laptop Skinz by SKYN. Seriously girly. At least, I can’t imagine a guy putting a paisley skin on his laptop.
So you can see, it’s a woman’s world in the geek-o-sphere after all!
Anyway, ladies, and gents, I hope this makes up for last week’s lame link. Either way, it’s Friday, so why not click the link and look at the pretty pictures?
Update: Wow, how could I have forgotten that it’s Hemingway’s Birthday today?


Comic Movies

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fiction,Fun,News and Current Events,Personal,The Network Geek at Home,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 7:57 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Not “comical” movies, but movies based on comics.

Now, I try to keep my inner fanboy on a short leash, but I’ve recently seen news that just excites the hell out of me. I love comic books. I especially love obscure comic books. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the X-Men movies, even though they totally don’t have continuity with the comic books I read. And, I liked the Batman movies, too, especially the latest one that shows his origins. But, I really like much more obscure comics than this. Have any of my readers ever heard of Doom Patrol or Deadman? I bet not.

Deadman is about a ghost. More specifically a superhero-esque ghost who can temporarily posses the living. The main character is Boston Brand who was a circus performer that was murdered on the job. In order to find his killer, he came back as a ghost. And, with that, a cult comic was born. Interestingly enough, though, this book was published by D.C. Comics, who is Marvel Comics biggest competitor, so it was fairly available. It was also hella cool.

Doom Patrol originally came out just months after the original X-Men, and was uncannily similar. Both teams featured a wheel-chair bound leader and a bunch of freaks with super powers. But, some how, the X-Men were more mainstream than the members of Doom Patrol. Over the years, Doom Patrol went in and out of publication and changed quite a bit, though they were always a little darker and edgier than the X-Men.

Now, though, both of these are getting made into films. Deadman is being produced by Guillermo del Toro of Hellboy fame. And Doom Patrol is being produced by Akiva Goldsman through his Warner Brothers-based Weed Road Pictures. According to the article, the studio has hired Adam Turner to write the Doom Patrol screenplay.
God, I hope these don’t suck.


Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,News and Current Events,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:35 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

No, not tech support for a change.
I’m fairly well strapped for cash these days, but a fellow blogger is raising money for cerebral palsy, so the best I can do is send folks over to support her.
Um, that’s to help find a cure for, not, you know, to promote cerebral palsy. Just in case anyone was confused.

“A bone to the dog is not charity.
Charity is a bone to the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.”

–Jack London




Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Hoffman's Home for Wayward Boys,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is in the late evening or 10:10 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Oh, crap I have been craving a cigarette for days now.

I want to smoke the way a lemming wants to jump off a cliff in a Disney nature film.

Gah! I know they’re bad for me, that they’re slowly killing me. I know that they make me look stupid. I know that they turn off women who might otherwise see me as a potential mate. I know! But, damn, a nice kretek would taste so nice right now. I know just where to get my favorites, too, Djarum “red”.

Wow, that reminds me of something I saw carved into a desk when I was in college:
“God, save me from what I want!”

Review: No Plot? No Problem!

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal,Review,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:49 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

I finished No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days last night.

It was good, though certainly not the usual writing book. The author, Chris Baty, is a motiviational writing pro who inspires people to attempt writing a novel every year. He’s the founder of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. You might have noticed that I’ve been “counting down” to that event on my sidebar and that’s why I read this book. I hope, all things being equal, to attempt NaNoWriMo this year. That is, if I can keep my characters from writing themselves now.

No Plot? No Problem! is first and foremost a motivational writing book. It’s fairly light on any real technique, other than those things that get you writing and keep you writing, but, as long as you keep that in mind, it’s a very good book. I don’t know about other potential writers out there, but one of my major problems has always been motivation and actually making myself write on a regular, consistent basis. I love writing, but it doesn’t pay the bills and likely won’t for quite some time, if ever, so doing my job comes first. After that, and the regular duties of life, if I have time and energy left, I might have something to write about. Maybe, if I’m lucky. So, after reading literally dozens of books on writing, I don’t need more about plot structure or scene description or anything else, but I do need motivation. This book has that in spades.

Mr. Baty bills the book as the “official handbook of NaNoWriMo”, so it might be helpful to know what those parameters are as they’re also the parameters the book uses to motiveate you. The goal of both is to write a 50,000 word novel in one month, not worrying about quality of either prose or story, just get 50,000 words cranked out by a 30/31 day deadline. Why 50,000 words? Well, according to Mr. Baty, because Brave New World by Aldous Huxley was 50,000 words and the first short novel he picked up when they started all this wonderful craziness. So, there it is. Fairly arbitrary, but a goal that is attainable. And, every year, people participate and attain that goal. Not everyone, but enough people that the thought of doing it motivates me and that’s what I need.

We’ll see how well I do and how much advice I follow from the book!
Oh, and at lunch today, I started The Sociopath Next Door. So far, it’s fairly good and giving me ideas for that book!

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