Diary of a Network Geek

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

9/30/2018

DIY Pop Art Prints

Filed under: Art,Fun,Stimulus and Production,The Tools — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is mid-morning or 10:43 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Like Andy Warhol, but that match your decor.

If you don’t know who Andy Warhol is, this post may not make sense to you. Also, you may not be old enough to be reading my blog. Seriously, though, if you don’t know who he is, please, for the love of art, go look him up.
One of the many things I enjoy about Andy Warhol is that he supported himself and his art via work in advertising. Even well after he was a well-known and successful artist, he kept up his advertising work. I suspect that, like many artists, the regular job provided a sense of security. Either way, he made some of the most incredible modern art. In fact, even if you’re somehow not familiar with the artist, you’ve no doubt seen his Campbell’s Soup Can work, or something that riffs off of it. Or, you’ll have seen some of his other prints, like Marilyn Monroe or the arguably better known Chairman Mao. Those prints all derive from silk screen work that, while complicated to do in his style, is actually a technique well within the grasp of the motivated hobbyist. As a kid I remember watching my older siblings silk screening t-shirts.
And that’s why, this week, I’m sharing Watch how to make prints like Andy Warhol from Boing Boing. At that link you’ll find a really good tutorial on doing just that. It’s only about five minutes long, and obviously only a start on actually doing this entire process, but it’s well worth the look. And, I even know, personally, at least one current artist who’s using this method to produce work, so it’s definitely still viable!
Go check it out and maybe give it a try this weekend!

7/27/2018

Making Neon Signs

Filed under: Art,Fun — 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 a Full Moon

As promised, I’ve got fun videos for you this week.

I’ve always loved those “how did they make that?” shows and videos. Even the most mundane things in our modern world can seem miraculous when you can see the incredible way that they’re made. As a survivor of a Marketing education, I am still interested in advertising and signage. And, in my opinion, the most magical signage is still the venerable neon sign. Even in science-fiction movies, like Blade Runner, neon signs still show up to give us that sense of gritty reality and solid commerce that underlies whatever environment they inhabit. All of which is preface to say, “Hey, look! Cool videos about how neon signs are made!”.
The link I’m sharing is to the blog post Watch this short film on the art of making neon signs on Boing Boing. But, don’t be fooled, there’s more there than one short film. And, more than that, all the films of artisans creating the most amazing and gorgeous neon artwork are fascinating to watch. At least, they were to me.
I hope you enjoy them!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

12/22/2017

Charitable Giving

Filed under: About The Author,Marginalia and Notes from the Editor,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is mid-morning or 10:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

As someone who’s been the beneficiary of charitable giving, I heartily endorse it!

And, actually, you may have enjoyed the benefits of charity, directly or indirectly, too. For instance, if you have had cancer or know someone who has had cancer, you’ve benefited from money donated to cancer research from any of a number of charities. If you’ve used Wikipedia, you have only been able to do so due to donations made to that organization. Also, I know that it’s at least partially my upbringing in the Methodist Church that has helped me form the belief that I should give back some of what I’ve been given. I don’t give it all to a church these days, but I do still like to give to worth causes. That seems like an especially important thing to both believe and do these days with the social and political climate being what they are. If you feel the same, but aren’t sure where to give, I have a couple suggestions.
First of all, there’s the Boing Boing 2017 Guide to Charitable Giving. I don’t necessarily endorse all the charities they list, but there are some good ones there, though several are out of the UK and may not be to my American audience’s taste.
Secondly, I’d like to recommend that you consider giving to established charities in your local area. Find a homeless shelter or women’s shelter to give to this year, maybe, or, my personal favorite, a local stray animal rescue. I lean toward donating toward the most helpless in need in my local area. I like the animal rescues because it’s such a huge problem where I live and it’s mostly domestic animals that have been mistreated one way or another. Domesticated animals are our responsibility and we should step up to that.

So, this Friday before Christmas, I hope you’ll forgive me for getting up on a soap box, but I truly believe that if we want the world to be a better place, we have to make it that way. One way I choose to do that is to donate to worthy causes. Besides, if you donate now, you can take it off your taxes, so it’s a “win-win” situation!

Anyway, I hope you’ll think about it and, either way, have a Merry Christmas.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

9/22/2017

Money from Equifax

Filed under: Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 1:10 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Your credit information has likely been stolen.

As you’ve probably read in the news, or heard on telly, Equifax, one of the three largest U.S. credit bureaus, was hacked earlier this month, exposing over 143 million American’s personal information. And, trust me, no matter how bad it sounds, it is most assuredly worse than you think. What’s more, it seems like this breach was strictly due to negligence on the part of one of their system administrators, who didn’t keep up to date with patches on some of their backend software, leaving them vulnerable to the attack. But, unless you’re a professional geek like me, you probably don’t care about that. Rather, what you care about is what to do next.

Luckily, Consumer Reports has some suggestions on how to respond to the breach of your personal data, and they’re pretty good suggestions. Thankfully, since my wife and I recently refinanced our house to get out of most of our consumer debt, I have some credit monitoring already in place. If you don’t though, now is a good time to get that going. And, as always, it’s best to keep a close eye on your credit reports and bank accounts regularly. Breach or no breach, that’s just a good habit to get into these days. Identity theft is big business in the digital underworld. It’s unfortunately a “growth business”.

But, none of those are the links I’m really intent on sharing with you this week. No, this week, the very important link I have for you is via Boing Boing and it’s a chatbot that will help you sue Equifax for your loss of privacy and personal data. It’s not available for all states yet, just the ones that have class-action lawsuits filed already, but I’m sure more states will be “piling on”, as we used to say in Chicago, in the coming months. Also, the app is being hit pretty hard, as you can imagine with almost 45% of all U.S. Citizens potentially being effected by this breach. There are a lot of people that might be trying to use this chatbot!

So, hang in there and good luck! And, come back next week for something a little lighter to take your mind off the financial trouble of almost half the U.S.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

7/28/2017

“Good Business”

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I love science fiction film.

Or videos. Or books. Pretty much anything science fiction related is worth a look from me.
Once upon a time, I wanted to be a science fiction author. Not just a writer, but an author, which, to me, implies publication. I wanted to scifi’s answer to Ernest Hemingway. Instead, I became a professional computer geek and a consumer of science fiction in all its forms. Well, you win some and you lose some. At least I have that business degree to fall back on, right?

Anyway, that’s enough about my broken dreams for a Friday. How about a look at a scifi short, instead? That’s what I have for you this week, readers, via Boing Boing it’s a short titled Good Business, about an arms deal in the future that, frankly, goes about the way I sort of suspect every arms deal goes or has gone ever. But this one’s with aliens and pretty good special effects. And, it’s only about five minutes long, so you can sneak it in on a Friday while you’re pretending to work.

Have a great weekend and follow your dreams!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

7/14/2017

The Underdark

Filed under: Art,Fun — 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 Gibbous

Bonus points for you few who will get that reference.

I’ve always been fascinated with caves. Maybe it was my early exposure to the animated version of the Hobbit, which features some very important scenes in caves. Maybe it was too many hours playing Dungeons and Dragons. Maybe it was a National Geographic special. I honestly can’t tell you any more, but I definitely pay attention when anyone starts talking about caves. And, the biggest cave that we know of currently is the Hang Son Doong cave in Viet Nam. It’s absolutely amazing and, freakishly, only relatively recently discovered. It’s a protected site, but you can see amazing video of it. And, that’s what I’m sharing with you this week, amazing videos of the largest cave in the known world.

These videos, by the way, come to us via Boing Boing
Here’s a nice, edited version Ryan Deboodt’s video footage of the cave from YouTuber Oxalis.
And, for comparison, here’s Ryan Deboodt’s original footage, with less editing.

They’re both pretty amazing and definitely worth a quick look as a break on your Friday.
Enjoy and see you back next week!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.

4/28/2017

A Vulgar Tongue

Filed under: Art,Fun — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:04 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Language is the key to culture, real or imagined.

Regular readers of my blog will know that I am a dyed-in-the-wool geek. I mean, totally hardcore. I started playing Dungeons and Dragons in the Seventh Grade and did, on and off, through college. I still, to this day, have a significant bookshelf of roleplaying games, including some D&D books. These days, I don’t have time to play, and the books are mostly there for theoretical inspiration, if I can ever get writing again. But, way back in the dark ages, before the internet, I had a subscription to Dragon Magazine, which was the official D&D magazine. It was there that I was first exposed to invented languages. Later, as I read more and after the internet became a thing, I discovered a community of like-minded wierdos who created languages, too. “Conlangs”, we called them, short for “constructed languages”. Some of the most famous are Klingon, Dothraki, and Tolkien’s famous Sindarin, more popularly known as “Elvish”, but there are hundreds, if not thousands, of them now.
Most of the results of my peculiar hobby, or “secret vice”, as Tolkein called it, are safely tucked away where no one will ever see them. Though, I did setup a page of resources and links over at my fantastic fiction site, Fantasist.net. I had some tools there that got so popular, they were crashing my webhost’s servers, so I had to take them down. I’d always meant to get back to porting them to a new, more stable and less resource-intensive programming language, but I never did. Now, though, there are so many people sharing things like this, and better than the stuff I made, that I don’t really feel bad about it. And, new tools for creating languages from the ether are springing up all the time.

Recently, someone shared a tool on the newsgroup I’m part of for conlanging, CONLANG-L, that raised quite a ruckus. It was originally shared by Boing Boing, and I saw it there, too. It’s a web-based language generation tool called Vulgar. The page I’ve linked to there is the “free demo”, but that will gin up a pretty decent start for a language, especially if, like me, you’re not a linguist. There are a surprising number of options, if you want to take advantage of them, and even more if you’re willing to cough up $19.95 for the downloadable version. That downloadable version still runs in your web browser, by the way, so there’s not any compatibility issues between Windows, Macintosh or Linux. Now, of course, this isn’t going to get you a fantastic artificial language, but, if you’re a starving fantasy author who wants to whip up something that sounds reasonably okay with a very little effort, this isn’t a terrible start. For me, it’s fun, but probably not more than an amusing toy to play with on a quiet Friday morning.
And, based on the frenzied reactions on that conlang email list, my sharing it and saying that it’s not bad, will irritate some folks. Which is a different kind of fun.

Either way, go, try it and have fun. And enjoy your weekend!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words

3/11/2016

Positive Thinking

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:23 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I think everyone could use a little positive thinking this week.

I know I sure could!
I have read more than my fair share of self-help books and the one thing they all mostly have in common is the idea of “positive thinking”.  Whether it’s The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale or How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie or Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill or A Better Way to Live by Og Mandino,…
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5/13/2011

Cthulhu Sex-Ed

Filed under: Art,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Movies,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:29 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I can think of nothing more appropriate for a Friday the Thirteenth post.

Are you a fan of H.P. Lovecraft?
When I was in Junior High, I found H.P. Lovecraft and read him all the way through High School and even college.  But, because I found him when most people are getting sex ed for the first time, when our bodies are going through enormous, almost supernatural changes, I found this short film, via Boing Boing, called “Late Bloomer” quite funny.  Be warned, it may not be entirely safe for work, depending on your workplace and their standards, but it’s worth watching!

So, happy Friday the 13th!  Enjoy the video and have a very lucky day!

1/14/2005

The Cubes

Filed under: Fun,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:33 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Personally, I aspire to a cubicle again.
That would mean that I was working at a desk instead of a table in Storage Room B. But, I understand that some folks really resent cubicles. Those cube-farms become a kind of professional purgatory from which escape seems impossible. Or, at least, improbable. Well, if you can’t make fun of your terrible and desperate professional life, what can you make fun of? So, here it is. The ultimate toy for the prisoner of the cubicle: The Cubes.
That link is to Boing Boing, who ran a story on the Cubes earlier in the week. But, if you’d like to get more information directly from the source, cut to the chase and go to CubeFigures.com and if you’re already sold on the idea, you can buy them from Archie McPhee.
(Oh, and yes, there is a “Jim” figure. He’s naughty. Art imitates life!)

Aw, c’mon, it’s Friday, so, you know you’re going to click on it sooner or later anyway.


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