Diary of a Network Geek

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

2/15/2019

A Change of Scenery

Filed under: Art,Better Living Through Technology,Fun,GUI Center,MicroSoft — 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

This time of year, a change of scenery is a good idea.

Even if you can’t afford to travel, because, let’s face it with rising costs and fewer raises, who can afford to travel much? Still, after being cooped up all Winter long, right about now, as things start to thaw out, I start to think about a different view than the same, grey city. I try to escape in a good book, but even the books I’m reading these days are a little grey and bleak. As a computer geek, that leaves me just a few options. The easiest is just changing my Windows desktop background.
Thankfully, in my old links, I found a desktop background changer that Lifehacker had recommended; Chameleon. You don’t need to install it. Just hit that link, download the 32-bit or 64-bit version and run it. Then, pop open the settings and choose your location and it will change your wallpaper based on your local weather conditions, or your battery life, or time of day or any of several more specific variables. Also, when you hit that link, be sure to grab the “wallpaper pack”. In fact, I recommend doing that no matter what. And, if you plan on using Chameleon, unzip them to a folder before you run the program. Then you can select the appropriate photos in the setup. It’s really pretty straight-forward. And, when you’re tired of it running, just close it. Nothing to uninstall or remove. Just exit the program.
Simple, free and a beautiful change of very local scenery that’s very welcome this time of year.
Enjoy!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

2/8/2019

Talking About Psychology

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,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 Crescent

I can get lost in how complicated our brains are.

When I was in college, I minored in Psychology and, at one point, was on my way toward becoming a therapist. I ultimately decided to get into a field where I could actually solve people’s problems for them, but I still love understanding more about how our brains work. We confuse who we are with what we think and the other things that happen in that most miraculous of all organs. As you might have guessed, I don’t entirely trust brains, even my own, but they are still the best tools we have for running our lives and solving our problems.
And, of course, like many other denizens of the internet, I love TED Talks. So, I’ve been crazy busy this week and, frankly, I don’t have time or patience for more introduction than that, so I’m just going to point you to the 8 Great TED Talks About Psychology. And they are great. Totally fascinating, and a great distraction from whatever else may be going on this lovely Friday. Also? You may just learn something interesting or useful about your own mind. Maybe not, but I’m willing to take the chance that you will.

Enjoy and, hopefully, I’ll see you next week!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

2/1/2019

Chill Out Music

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 Waning Crescent

I could stand to be a little more chill.

Look, I don’t feel like going into a lot of detail about why, but I could have stood to have been a little more chilled out this week. The truth is, I’m stressed and exhausted and pretty well just done in. Frankly, I’m a bit embarassed that I let so much of my life get to me. My mother once told me, as an adult, that I always felt everything more than everyone else. And, trust me, she did NOT mean that as a compliment. I wish I weren’t that way, but, well, I am. I meditate for 20 minutes a day, five days a week, and pray more often than that. In fact, I actually work hard to try and stay non-reactive to the stressors in my life, but the very fact that I have to work hard at it kind of indicates that I’m not doing all that well at it.
Anyway, the upshot of all that is, when I see an article that claims to have The 10 Most Relaxing Songs, According to Science, Ranked, I pay attention, even if that list includes Coldplay. (Which, “spoiler alert”, it does.) The article has short snippets of the songs, but with links to the full songs on Spotify. It also has a little analysis of why each song seems to be so soothing. And, I have to admit, I listened to them while putting this blog post together and, well, they did seem to chill me out a little, so there may just be something to it.

In any case, it seemed like the thing to share on a Friday morning to help get everyone through the rest of the day and into the weekend. Like a public service. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
Anyway, enjoy and maybe I’ll have something else a little more interesting for you next week. Who knows? Come back and find out.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

1/25/2019

Phishing Quiz

Filed under: Fun,The Day Job — 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

No, that’s not a typo.

This month, I’ve been dealing with a higher than normal amount of phishing emails at work. For those of you not in IT, those are the emails you get that have links which look like legitimate links, say to your bank, but that actually redirect you to a compromised website that collects your username and password for a hacker’s later use. They’re worse than regular spam email, but not quite virus payloads. Either way, they cause me no end of grief. Normally, I don’t have a hard time spotting them, but even I have to admit, these cyber crooks have gotten really clever lately.
So, this week I’m bringing you something rather more important and educational than it is strictly “fun”. Still, if you bear with me, and follow the link, you’ll be helping yourself and endearing yourself to your IT Department. Trust me.
The link is to Google’s phishing quiz and it’s meant to both test your knowledge and skill at avoiding phishing emails. As an IT professional, I can tell you, it’s harder than it looks. Honest. The first time I ran through the quiz, I missed three of the eight questions, though, one was a “false-positive”, which means I was leaning more toward safety by the end of the quiz. In any case, after you answer each question, the site takes you through what was wrong, or right, about each email.

So, yeah, not the most traditionally “fun” thing for a Friday, but it is a kind of game, so I’m going to count it!
And, with any luck at all, by this coming Friday, I may be finally able to reveal one of the things that’s been keeping me from writing up better stuff for you on Friday’s the past month or so.

 

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

1/18/2019

More Free Alternatives

Filed under: Art,Better Living Through Technology,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

I’m tired and lazy, but it’s Friday, so here’s a post for you.

The brave few who are regular readers here know I dig free software. I also have had aspirations of being a bit of an artist, writer and photographer. Sadly, I was more devoted to eating well and living comfortably than I was any art, so I didn’t get too far. But, as I get older, I also get cheaper and less willing to spend money on hobbies, which often leads me to seek out free software.
Anyone who’s done any serious computer graphics work knows that Adobe has some of the best software available. In fact, I actually subscribe to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan. I wasn’t a huge fan of the subscription model, but getting the latest version of Lightroom and Photoshop for $9.99 a month is actually a pretty good deal. Still, there’s a lot more that I wouldn’t use as often and therefore I’m not quite as willing to pony up the steep prices to get. For that, I’m back to my old quest for free software. Thankfully, David Murphy at Lifehacker has compiled the super useful 27 Free Alternatives to Adobe’s Expensive App Subscriptions. He’s done all the leg-work for you. I can’t vouch for all his choices, but for years I used GIMP instead of Photoshop, because it was free.

In any case, it’s been a busy week, for reasons I hope I can reveal soon, and I just haven’t had time to give you more than this simple link. Also, this week the link should actually work, unlike last week when Scrivener added some extra characters to the link code making an endless loop. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Scrivener for writing, but blog posts need clean code and text and until I figure out how to make that more seamless, I’ll use a text editor for blog posts before they go up.
Oh, and I did go back and fix those links from last week if you want to check out the incredible animated GIFs.

 

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

1/11/2019

Advanced Animated GIFs

Filed under: Art,Fun,The Tools — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 12:22 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Let’s not get into a discussion of how to pronounce “GIF”.

All I’ll say is that the creators of the format pronounced it like the peanut butter brand.
Either way, my purpose this week is to share two things from the same source. First, there’s the super cool, trippy animations from Etienne Jacob, aka Necessary-Disorder.

An animated GIF from Etienne Jacob, aka Necessary-Disorder

Just look at that incredible GIF. It repeats, but it seems to just run endlessly. It’s amazing. Hit the linked site for more of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But, if you’re feeling a bit more ambitious, head over to his other site necessary-disorder tutorials where the young Frenchman shares his process and tools for making these amazing works of animated art.

Another animated GIF from Etienne Jacob, aka Necessary-Disorder

I’d share more, but it’s been a crazy couple of weeks at work and I’ve been super busy there, and on a little something I’m keeping under wraps for now. Hopefully, though, there will be some good news to share with you, dear blog readers, before the end of the month.

1/4/2019

New Rules for the New Year

Filed under: About The Author,Advice from your Uncle Jim,Better Living Through Technology,Marginalia and Notes from the Editor — 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 Waning Crescent

Okay, maybe not rules per se, but Friday posts might be different.

Look, I’ve been posting every Friday for something more than ten years. Probably close to sixteen years, actually, though I have to admit I haven’t actually checked. In any case, lately, it’s felt more like a chore than a joy. It’s a lot of work to find something original to share with you from somewhere out on the internet every week. I honestly think it might be easier to actually create my own content sometimes. Except, of course, it’s been a horrifically busy year and the past month or two has been even worse. So, what I’m trying to say in the most long-winded way imaginable, is that I’m probably going to change up what gets posted here every Friday. There’s literally no telling what I might share, from somewhere out in the big, wide world, or from the dark recesses of my own twisted mind.

But, since I haven’t quite gotten out of the habit of being helpful just yet, here’s a tip from your Uncle Jim.
The world being what it is, you probably got one or more gift cards for presents this year. Maybe it was a door prize at an office Christmas party or maybe it was your Christmas bonus or maybe just a lovely gift from a distant relative. No matter how you got it, it’s going to be virtually impossible to use the face value perfectly. Either you spend a bit more than the gift card and pay the rest, or you spend a bit less and have one or more gift cards with just a dollar or two on them. Save those gift cards with just small change left! When a website wants to collect credit card information for their “free trial”, use one of those gift cards! If you forget to cancel the free trial before they start billing you, all they’re going to get is a buck or two that you were probably going to forget about anyway. Or, if you do remember, you can use that couple of dollars for free trials for months and months! It works really, really well, trust me!

So, there you go, something totally from my own, little brain to help you live a little better.
Come back next week to see what I come up with next!

This post originally appeared at my other blog, Use Your Words.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else."
   --Booker T. Washington

12/28/2018

Random Resolutions for 2019

Filed under: Fun,Fun and Games,Marginalia and Notes from the Editor,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:20 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Another new year and another chance to break promises to yourself!

I never bother with New Year’s Resolutions any more, personally. I’ve tried “turning over a new leaf” in January so many times that I’m in danger of becoming a walking cliche. At least I know that I’m no different than most people, 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, again, my own little solution to the New Year’s Resolution “problem”.
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. 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. Also, 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. Which is pretty cool, no matter how long ago that was. 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!

12/21/2018

Global Santa Tracking System

Filed under: Fun,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:10 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Have you been good this year?

As I have done more than once in the past at this time of year, I’m sharing some good, clean fun for the whole family, brought to you by the United States Government.
During the Cold War, NORAD stood between us and what we were sure was complete destruction at the hands of the Soviets. What with the recent tensions vis-a-vis Russia and China and North Korea, NORAD may find itself busier than ever in the coming year, but, until then, thankfully, they can fall back on my favorite tradition; tracking Santa. It started with a wrong number and an accidental connection, but a gentle soul in a high-pressure job spread a little Christmas cheer once a long, long time ago. The story got around and before you can say “Who’s violating my air space?”, everyone was misappropriating government resources to make kids happy. Before long, it was fully sanction and, if I say so myself, an entirely proper use of my tax dollars. In any case, now, whether you’re young or old, or whether you have children or not, you can have fun tracking Santa with the Official NORAD Santa Tracker!
And, since the holiday is nearly upon us and I don’t plan on posting again this weekend, have a very merry Christmas!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

12/14/2018

7 Sites to Get Free Books

Filed under: Fun,The Infinite Library,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:05 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

I’m always happy about sharing something that’s free.

With Christmas just around the corner, I know I’m feeling a little spending fatigue. Granted, I mostly send fruit from the McAllan Valley home to Illinois for family, but it seems like I’m spending money all the time around the holidays. If it’s not being tempted by a “Black Friday” sale of some kind, then it’s spending on a holiday party or some other similar thing. And, it’s not that I mind, mostly, but, as someone who has struggled with consumer debt and over-spending, the extra money spent at this time of year really starts to wear on me.
So, I’m always looking for cheap and free things this time of year to share with you, my faithful readers. Combine that with my penchant for hiding from the world via a good book, and sharing this article on Make Use Of titled The 7 Best Free Ebook Download Sites seemed like just the thing. One of them, Project Gutenberg, I’m both familiar with and have shared multiple times before, but the rest are new to me. And, if you don’t have an ebook reader, don’t worry, one, PDFBooksWorld, just needs a computer to read the PDF-ified books!
One note about this, though. As far as I can tell, the sites linked are all legal sites and not pirating work. Some have a mix of free and paid books, but they do all have at least SOME free books. And, at least one of them really only links to books that require an Amazon Kindle Unlimited account to get the free books. Also? Just to be clear, it’s wrong to pirate books. If they’re not freely available, it’s always best not to steal the work. Besides, this close to Christmas, can you afford to get on Santa’s “Naughty List”?

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

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