Diary of a Network Geek

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

8/23/2019

Astronaut Aptitude Test

Filed under: Fun,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 Third Quarter Moon

Could you cut it as an astronaut?

Last month was the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon landing, which means that I’m about as old as our modern space program. Or, as I like to think of it, I’m a child of the space age. That seems much more palatable than being almost as old as NASA.
In any case, for the past month or so everyone has been talking about space and the Moon and possibly returning to the Moon on the way to Mars. All that got me thinking about how every kid’s dream was to be an astronaut when I was little. We all thought we’d somehow be able to go to space by now. And, I mean, everyone would be there, as regular as air travel is now, like they were in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sadly, it takes a little bit more than just booking a ticket to get into space, and I probably wouldn’t have ever been eligible. But, in the spirit of dreams and our hopeful return to the Moon, this week, I’m sharing a link to The Astronaut Test, so you can see if you have “the right stuff” to qualify as an Astronaut Candidate. The questions are drawn from the actual, official NASA Astronaut Candidate requirements and tests.
Why not take the 15 question quiz and dream of the stars while you take a break from work?

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

8/16/2019

Augmented Reality Pets

Filed under: Art,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 Waning Gibbous

Not all uses for technology are recommended.

Look, I love technology and all the incredible things it can do for us, but even I know that too much reliance on some of it can really be a problem. The potential of augmented reality is pretty awesome, but, like anything, it can go awry. And, I’m sure you’re wondering what that has to do with my regular Fun Stuff on Friday post, right? Well, this week I have a free, short film for you about the upside, and potential downside, of augmented virtual reality “pets” titled Strange Beasts. And, yes, it is fiction, but it’s pretty good especially for being a short. I won’t spoil it by revealing too much, but definitely go check it out.
What else are you going to do to waste time on a break on Friday?

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

8/9/2019

Technochanting and Tinnitus Relief

Filed under: Art,Better Living Through Technology,Fun,Personal Care,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 Waxing Gibbous

I am my own white noise generator, thanks to tinnitus from too many years working in server rooms.

Seriously, you have no idea, if you don’t suffer from tinnitus, just how distracting omnipresent sound in your ears can be sometimes. Most of the time, I don’t have a big issue with it, but some days, it can be quite maddening. I’ve tried all kinds of things for it and, so far, all the doctors I’ve talked to about my tinnitus basically have said that it’s just something I’m stuck with forever. But, the other day, while looking at a website for generating semi-random Gregorian chants for background music, which is pretty awesome all by itself, I found something called Neural Symphony, Neuromodulated Tinnitus Relief. They’re both using the same sound generation enging on a site called MyNoise.net. Honestly, I was just going to serve up the Gregorian chant toy for a strange, fun thing on Friday, but then I tried the other one. I can’t say I got the same results that others have talked about, but I can promise I’ll try some more combinations of settings to see if I can improve the results.
It works like this; go to the link and let the sounds play over your headphones. In theory, the sounds, developed by Steve Harrison from the Tinnitus Talk Support Forum work to cancel out the sounds in a tinnitus sufferer’s ears, either while we listen to them or, if we get the right settings and sounds, for some time after we listen to them. So far, I haven’t had a lot of success with the after listening part, but the rest definitely helps. If you have tinnitus, check it out! And, if you don’t, count your blessings and try the Gregorian chant toy, instead.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

8/2/2019

Burning Daylight

Filed under: Art,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 Waxing Crescent

There’s only so many hours in a day.

And, only so many of them are lit by the biggest nuclear reactor in our solar system; the Sun.
Not too many weeks ago, we passed the Summer Solstice which is the day of the year that has the most sunlight hours. For the next six months, or so, each day has less and less light until we get to the Winter Solstice and that process reverses. In Houston, a lot of those hours are too hot to really enjoy, but I still like to know how many I have left in a day. Now, I don’t have to wonder, or fumble with an app on my phone. Instead, I can go to Sunshine.fyi and see, in real time, just how much of my visible day is left. Also, there’s a link to add it as a Chrome app, but that link seems to be broken at the time of writing this post. Hopefully, the creator will fix it.
So, save the page and watch your time!
And, most of all, get out there before the Sun is gone for the day!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

7/26/2019

2 Kooky Book Toys

Filed under: Art,Fun,The Infinite Library — 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

That’s two digital book-related toys.

Oddly enough, I found these two “living infographics” via two totally different paths, but they both ended up at the same site; The Pudding, a “…digital publication that explains ideas debated in culture with visual essays”. It’s a cool site, really, with some great data visualizations. I’m going to share two of them that, obviously, relate to books.
First, there’s the Hipster Summer Reading List 2019. It’s really what it says it is; a very snooty, self-important reading list. The idea is that kids in school get Summer reading lists to help keep their little brains engaged over the break from actual school where all learning takes place. But, when we become adults, no one programs literature for us the same way any more. This interactive infographic helps you generate one for yourself. There are settings for relative obscurity and difficulty as well as a publication year slider. I’m sure they’re all “classics” in some sense or another, but they were all books I’d never ready, which, I suppose, is partly the point.
The other interactive infographic is a page of 11 years of top-selling book covers, arranged by visual similarity. It’s kind of fascinating to see the way genres group together around certain colors and stylistic choices. It makes sense, really, since they’re all competing for the same eyeballs that they’d all end up looking similar. A kind of natural selection of book cover design. Either way, a fascinating way to spend a few minutes.

In fact, I think they’re both pretty fascinating ways to spend a few minutes playing instead of working on a Friday.
So, enjoy!

 

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

7/19/2019

Free Windows 10 Tools

Filed under: Better Living Through Technology,Fun,Geek Work,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 Waning Gibbous

Two free utilities to help tame Windows 10.

Y’all know I love free stuff and share it with you often here, especially on Friday. Actually, I pretty much exclusively post and share anything at all on Fridays, but, still, you get my point. In any case, virtually all consumer laptops and desktops are sold with Windows 10 now, but most of us are still trying to get all the settings and configurations locked down the way we like. Or maybe that’s just the professional geeks like me. Either way, with the goal of taming Windows 10 just a little bit more, I have two utilities from the same company to share with you this week. Both are free for home (ie. non-commercial) users.
First there’s O&O ShutUp10, which lets you get tighter control over what parts of Windows 10 communicates with Microsoft and advertisers. You don’t even need to install it. Just download it and run it. It will give you suggestions and hints on locking down location services and privacy settings so that you aren’t leaking information you don’t want to share.
The other is O&O AppBuster which lets you remove the automatically installed apps that Microsoft includes with Windows 10, whether you want them or not. It also lets you remove the hidden apps that seem like they’re part of the operating system but really aren’t. So, for instance, if you wanted to get rid of all the XBOX 360 cruft on your Windows 10 laptop, since you don’t play games but are writing the great American novel, this app would let you do that. Also, just like the last one, it’s free and doesn’t need to be installed to run and do its magic.

So, not quite as exciting as free games or stories, but maybe more useful.
Enjoy!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

7/12/2019

Dimension Guides

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

This is actually cooler than it sounds.

No, seriously, it really is.
As a curious and creative person, I have often found myself wondering just how big certain things are. When I wrote more, I was especially interested in the standard size of things like rooms and apartments, not to mention cars and houses and so on. I mean, sure, it was probably a little silly on my part and just a distraction from actually writing, but it was concievable that a plot could hinge on the size of a standard shower in a regular apartment verses a luxury bath in a lavish mansion. You know, theoretically. If I wrote stories that took place in apartments or mansions. But, I digress. Again.
Well, now, I can have all those questions answered, and so can you, thanks to a website called Dimensions.Guide, which was created by the architecture practice called Fantasic Offense. They’ve created drawings of an incredible array of everyday, and not-so-everyday, things people may need to know the dimensions for. They’ve got IKEA bookshelves, swimming pools, parking garages, bathrooms, bedrooms, living rooms and more. And, some of that “more” includes things like the dimensions of a Golden Retriever, a velociraptor, Iron Man, C-3PO, and the Iron Throne. Not to mention a vast array of other useful, and fun, things to know the dimensions of.
Oh, and they’re adding more via a webform request page, so the database will continue to grow.
The files are downloadable in DWG, for CAD drawing software, SVG and JPG, too. As of this writing, all for free for you to use in your own projects.
Kooky fun from architects. What will they think of next?

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

7/5/2019

Free Short Speculative Fiction

Filed under: Fun,The Infinite Library — 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 free and I love speculative fiction.
This week, I have both for you.

One of, if not THE, premier publisher of fantasy and science fiction currently, is TOR. Their excellent website, TOR.com, is a treasure trove of reviews, publishing announcements, essays, and, as you might have guessed, short fiction. It’s free, too, though that’s not always a given on any website these days. And, this week, I wanted to highlight an author who I somehow have not read much of yet; Michael Swanwick. I’ve read some of his excellent reviews and interviews of other authors, mostly via LOCUS, but, from Internet Science Fiction Database profile, he’s far more prolific than I’d realized! And that’s great news because the stories I’ve read from his Mongolian Wizard series are fantastic! They’ve got a very good steampunk feel to them, but in very much an original setting, while still, somehow, remaining so very familiar and comfortable that the reader just slips right into the most delightful suspension of disbelief that we hardly notice. They’re little miracles and a brilliant demonstration of short-form speculative fiction.
Go read them! All of them! Right now!

Then come back next week and see what I have for you next!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words, where I hope to write fiction one day as well.

6/28/2019

Finding Free Images

Filed under: Art,Fun,Photography — 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’m sure I’ve posted about this before, but it’s worth doing again.

As a photographer, I love making images. And, of course, the dream of every amateur creative seems to be somehow making money off their creative work. Personally, I think that actually ruins the part of the hobby that I enjoy and makes it just one more job I’ve got to do, but there are plenty of people who disagree. To those poor unfortunates, I apologize because this week I’m sharing a couple of places to find free images.
First, there’s an incredible archive of photos from and about space that we, the American tax-payers, have all funded; the NASA Image and Video Library. And, actually, it includes audio, too. The archive includes photos not only of space, but also Earth-based facilities including building space craft, training and media events. It’s a pretty magnificent archive of the incredible work NASA does, and you might find some cool photos to use as a desktop wallpaper.
The other is the Creative Commons image search, which is also images that are free, or have some other Creative Commons license. I’ve linked to a search for space-related images, but you can easily search for something else, like puppies.
In any case, all free for you to use in your projects.

And, yes, that’s pretty much all I’ve got this week because I’ve been almost literally up to my elbows in trying to train two of the silliest rescue dogs ever. They’re sweet, but my blushing bride and I were nuts to get two at once! They’re definitely a handful, but things are coming along okay. They’ll be trained eventually!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

6/21/2019

Star Wars Animals

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 Waning Gibbous

The creatures are the best part.

Okay, maybe you disagree there, but one of the things I’ve always loved best about any science-fiction is the creatures. That’s true whether it’s the sandworms of Frank Herbert’s Dune novels, the low-rent costumed animals in the original Star Trek TV series, or the vast array of alien creatures in the Star Wars films. Now, I’m not a huge fan of all of the CGI revisions that Geore Lucas made to the original trilogy (ie Han shot first! And the original Death Star explosion was fine, thanks.), but I absolutely love the combination of practical effects and computer graphics that made all the creatures on all the planets come to life. Whether it was bantha or the rancor, the original trilogy had great and setting appropriate animals that made the Star Wars universe seem a little more real. And, whatever your feeling about Episodes I, II, and III, Industrial Light and Magic really earned their name with the beasties on Naboo, not to mention the other creatures that show up in the least likely places.
So, when I saw this video from the Star Wars Kids channel titled Every Creature in the Star Wars Movies, I had to share it with you. It’s literally less than five minutes and still manages to cover all 90 named alien animals in all the movies so far. Definitely worth a quick look on a Friday when you’re trying to avoid a bit of work.
Enjoy!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

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