Diary of a Network Geek

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

1/29/2021

Dining Table Photography

Filed under: Art,Fun,On Creativity,Photography,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 Waning Gibbous

Improving your photography on the dining table.

What? Did you think I meant taking photos of your dining table? Well, I suppose that’s as valid a subject as any for photography, but what I’m actually sharing with you this week is something a bit different. A photographer, Brian Worley, posted this tutorial titled Creating and learning on the dining table back in March of last year. It’s an exploration of still-life photography, done on a tabletop, as a way of working on photography skills. It especially focuses on small flash skills, which I definitely need to work on regardless of how many of Syl Arena’s classes I’ve taken. He emphasizes a pretty tight setup, which should work for people in almost any living situation.
Before I read this, I did my own set up last year for this sort of thing. I’ve gotten two bases with two sides each; one black and one white, with a matte and shiny side each. I also got two miniature v-flats to control light better, which Mr. Worley does with simple poster board. Mine have black on one side and one panel each of white and silver, again to give me a little more flexibility with light and reflection. I did some experimenting with still life myself, both last year and earlier. You can see my brief experiments with my new-ish set up, as well as the older experiments, at my Still Life Flickr photo album.
It’s a great way to experiment with your camera and lighting in a small, contained space. And, for however long this pandemic lasts, it’s something we can do indoors, away from big crowds, while staying safe, to keep our photography skills sharp.

And, I have to admit, I got some more props around Christmas time for more still life work. I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but my intention is to add to that photo album and work on some fantasy book covers. Fantasy in the sense that the theme is swords and sorcery, but also fantasy in that these are books that haven’t been written.
We’ll see how it goes.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

 

1/22/2021

AI Poetry

Filed under: Fun,On Creativity,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 Gibbous

No, not poetry written FOR artificial intelligence.

Rather, poetry written BY artificial intelligence. Or at least extrapolated by artificial intelligence. The idea is simple enough; you choose three poets from the suggested list and feed the engine a first line, then, verse by verse, suggestions are made. You can change the shape of the poem, to some degree, and, of course, you can choose the next line which is all, as far as I can tell, culled from the poems of your selected inspirational writers. It’s an interesting experiment and, I have to admit, it makes poetry no worse than poetry I’d write myself without help. See for yourself. Here’s a sample of one I “wrote” with the help of the AI

Dream Sailor

I sail upon the wine-dark sea,
Set me on its golden sand;
Make me a race, and I shall be
The man for which I hold the hand.

Inspired by James Weldon Johnson, Robert Frost, and Edgar Allan Poe
COMPOSED IN VERSE BY VERSE

So, yeah, there you go. Click that link and try it for yourself! It’s free and may inspire you to do more.

This post first appeared on Use Your Words!

1/15/2021

Bardcore

Filed under: Art,Fun,music — 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

Modern music with a Medieval twist!

As a guy who aspires to write, among other things, fantasy fiction of the pseudo-Medieval or “swords and sorcery” style, I’m always paying attention to things I think will hook people. Music is, of course, something that most of us have some kind of interest in and I’ve always been a fan of musical mash-ups. So, naturally, when I stumbled across something called “bardcore”, I was intrigued, to say the least. In essence, these are relatively modern songs done in a Medieval style, to varying degrees, and can be quite fun. I’m not ashamed to say that I find them mostly fun, and, if I wrote with music in the background, I’d absolutely find them inspiring. Maybe you will, too. One of my favorite blogs, BoingBoing, has a short article about it and a link to one of the better performers. Strictly instrumental, but quite lovely.
I’ve got a couple of saved Bardcore lists on Spotify, too. One called simply
Bardcore and another called Bardcore/Tavernwave and a third called < a href=”https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5bSyIBVoTa9gwiOqvvJFWD”>Medieval Style/Bardcore. All fun, in my opinion, and quite likely to lead to daydreams of a past that never was.

Either way, it seems like a nice, light way to start the new year.
No idea what else I may share this year, or how often I’ll post, but at least you’ve got this.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

1/8/2021

Avoiding A FIght

Filed under: About The Author,Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:15 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

To be clear, I haven’t been in a fight since high school.

And, I haven’t even been close, really, since college.
That being said, I have been threatened more than once in the past thirty years since leaving the safe, quiet suburbs of Chicago. Though, that has happened with increasingly less frequency, thankfully. You see, I think of myself as a peaceful person, in spite of once threatening to stick a fork in someone’s eye. Hey, he started the threatening and posturing! I just turned out to be better at it than he was. And, the fork never left my side of the table. The believable threat was enough to stop him.
The thing is, when adults fight, I can tell you from unfortunate experience, everyone involved gets hurt. Yes, even the “winner” of that physical confrontation ends up hurting. Trust me. Knuckles in the teeth hurt the knuckles as much as the teeth. So, I go a long way to avoid getting into that sort of conflict. I apologize when it’s not strictly necessary. I stay away from bars, just on general principle. These days, I’m a pretty soft-looking middle-aged guy that probably reminds most people of their uncle who gets quietly drunk and weepy on Thanksgiving or Christmas. (I’m not, by the way. I don’t really drink anymore and rarely get weepy.) So, I never seem a threat. Not at all the sort that people seek out to start trouble with at all. And, that’s just the way I like it. Trust me, no one wants to hang out with the guy willing to literally stick a fork in someone to prove a point. Not even the guy with the fork.

I bring all this up because, well, we’ve been away from regular human contact for a bit and while we were, I feel like tempers have gotten shorter. I know mine did for awhile this past year. And, too, our world has gotten scarier and more uncertain thanks to a pandemic and politicians that leave much to be desired. I’m not even thrilled with the people I voted for, much less the ones I didn’t. I imagine that others feel the same way. All that lack of practice on our social skills and the heightened tension may make for some challenging times ahead as we get used to being with people again. I hope we won’t need this, but why not start your year off on the right foot and look at Lifehacker’s suggestions for how to talk your way out of a bar fight. Trust me on this one, fellahs. The pretty girls would rather go home with the guy who avoids the trouble than the guy who starts OR ends it. Just ask my wife!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend. A successful woman is one who can find such a man."
   --Lana Turner

1/1/2021

Upgraded Resolutions!

Filed under: Art,Fun,Fun and Games — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Updated random resolutions!

I haven’t made formal New Year’s Resolutions in a long, long time because, honestly, if I’m relying on making myself a promise on a certain day to follow through, it’s not likely to actually happen. At least I know that I’m alone, which is why gyms and churches are both bursting at the seams in January but thin out by April. Still, it’s traditional, so I’ll share, my own little solution to the New Year’s Resolution “problem”, which has been freshly updated.
Back in the day, when I still had delusions that I could make myself into a decent programmer, I whipped up a New Year’s Resolution Generator. At the time, I was studying Perl, which is what I wrote it in then. This year, though, I updated that sad, old Perl CGI program to the much more modern PHP. So, now, instead of getting an error message, you actually get the fun toy.
I based it, in part, on some ideas from the Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Holidays, but I have to admit, I threw in some of my own warped sense of humor. And, I weighted things a little more toward heavier drinking and looser morals because I figured those were the resolutions that would be easier to keep and I figured they’d be funnier.

In any case, it was apparently funny enough that Comedy Central Insider linked it in their blog back when I first released it all the way back in 2006. Which is pretty cool, no matter how long ago that was and how many technologies and upgrades have come and gone. Besides, can completely random “advice” from a website really be any worse than the suggestions you got from family over the holidays? In today’s world of chaos and unreality, it honestly doesn’t seem as bad an idea as it used to! So, why not give it a shot yourself? You don’t even have to share about it publicly. No one will know but us!

And try to have a good year, no matter what happens. Make time to love your loved ones, do good work, and add something positive to the world. Or one of the random resolutions. Whichever seems likelier to produce good results.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words, in spite of the fact that the actual New Year’s Resolution Generator resides here! It’s a crazy world!


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