Diary of a Network Geek

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

12/12/2018

Halfway

Filed under: About The Author,Deep Thoughts,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:34 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

So. Birthdays. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

Based on entirely anecdotal evidence and a sample size that’s roughly the size of my family, I’m about halfway. Halfway through a life. It sounds so melodramatic. Well, at fifty, I guess I’m entitled to a little melodrama. Just a little, though. Because, after all, its only halfway. That means, if my family’s longevity and genome are any indication, I still have another fifty years or so of pretty active life ahead of me. That’s good though, because I still have a lot of stuff I want to do with life.

I don’t normally make a big deal about birthdays, but our culture seems to hang a lot more on the big five-oh. For whatever reason, fiftieth birthdays seem to be the point at which people freak out. At least for men. Personally, I think I’m doing okay. Sure, I’d like to make more money and have better benefits, so if there are any recruiters out there with a great IT Infrastructure Management job for me, I’d be open to that. But, honestly, I do okay. My blushing bride and I cleared the last of our consumer debt this past year, so our only outstanding loans are the mortgage and the loan for our solar panels. And, really, those solar panels are going to be an asset. After all, energy prices almost never go down, but that solar system will keep generating power at up to 80% of it’s current rate for the next 25 years. As with last year, I’ve read a lot of good books and seen a lot of good movies, though I’ve been mostly too busy to review them like I used to do.
Really, I’ve had a pretty good year. In some ways, maybe a bit too good. I was shocked to see how much weight I’d put on this year, mostly due to easy living and a wonderfully Southern wife who shows me how much she loves me with food. She really, really loves me, so I’ve eaten very well. So well, in fact, that my cardiologist fat-shamed me at my annual checkup with him. Now, I’m back on my program of rowing, weights and counting calories until I’m down to my ideal weight. (And, no, I am NOT sharing what that is!)
Of course, being married to Sharon does make my time here considerably more enjoyable. She works really hard to make sure I’m as well taken care of as she can manage. And, I work toward the same thing. I suppose that’s made a little easier for each of us because we remember how it was when we were with other people. It’s funny how getting a little older and having a bit more experience with the absolute worst and most wrong way to be in a relationship can make the current one so precious and enjoyable. Oh, sure, we still have our moments, just like every married couple does, but there’s no one I’d rather be married to at all and I count myself lucky to know it. Besides, she quite possibly is the only woman on the planet still willing to put up with my nonsense. And, this year, more than most, I’m a little extra grateful for her willingness to gently remind me about what’s important when I’ve gone a little off the rails. I’m lucky to still be married to her and my life gets better every year she’s still along for the ride.

In the past, I’ve listed the same group of celebrities who share my birthday. But, this year, I’ll only mention two, because they’re the only ones I currently care about. I’m shocked to realize that I’m a mere two years older than Jennifer Connelly, who was born on this day. She’s lovely and I’d watch her read the phone book. The other celebrity who shares my birthday is Frank “Chairman of the Board” Sinatra. And, just like me, he did it his way.

Also, I think it’s interesting to note that on this day in 1896 Marconi first demoed radio and, again on this day, in 1901 made his first Trans-Atlantic transmission. (Though, of course, all right-thinking people know that Tesla was really responsible for those first advances in radio.)

So, that’s the state of me, as it were, this year. Some things I’m happier about than others, but, all in all, it’s been a pretty good year. I’ve just about given up trying to figure out what the coming year will bring, though I do try to make plans about writing more and doing more photography. In the end, though, what I choose to do or not do doesn’t matter, so long as Sharon and I do it together. I’m happy that she’s really become the only thing that matters in my life. God knows, I could have worse

All in all, life is going along okay and I’m sure it’ll be good coming year.

This post originally appeared on my other, more current, blog, Use Your Words.

11/9/2018

Book Cheaper Flights

Filed under: Fun,Red Herrings — 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 Crescent

Well, for at least some weekends.

Last week, I shared a service that let you buy airline tickets on an installment basis before you fly. Hopefully, for anyone who might need it, that was helpful with enough time to pay off your flight. This week, I’m afraid, I don’t have anything that will likely be of help during the holidays, because, frankly, traveling during the holidays is never fun. If you haven’t done it, and can avoid it, I encourage you to do so. I’ve flown before Thanksgiving and Christmas both, and neither is an experience that I can really recommend. Also, airlines charge premium prices on those weekends because, well, they can. I mean, they really have you over a barrel. Every “good” son or daughter wants to get home for the holidays, so they can suffer through family dinners where someone is mad at someone else or is disappointed in how their lives turned out or whatever. At least, if holiday movies aren’t lying to us. (My family was always fantastic and warm and kind during the holidays, of course.)
But, if you can manage to travel on some other weekend, then WeekendFlights, is for you! You just go to the site, put in your point of origin and your destination and they whip up a calendar with all the weekend rates on it, highlighting the best, and worst, weekends to fly. (If you go, you’ll see that Thanksgiving weekend and the weekend after Christmas are flagged as some of the worst times to travel.) Yes, it is a short trip, but, if you’re looking for a quick, weekend getaway, this site can help you save on the airfare.
Check it out and see if you can save!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words!

1/12/2018

Procedural Space Opera

Filed under: About The Author,Fun — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:59 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I may be a computer geek, but I’m heavier on the geek side.

Not that a statement like that is much of a surprise to people who know me. Or to people who follow my oldest blog, the eponymously named Diary of a Network Geek. The thing is, though, I fell into the network part of that. Before that, though, I was a slightly different kind of geek. I’ve always been into science-fiction and, at one time, thought I wanted to be a writer. Actually, I still do what to be a writer, but the networking thing has been more profitable. In any case, boring personal information aside, I still love almost everything related to science-fiction. And, back when I was trying to teach myself Perl, and later PHP, I made some goofy world-building random generators that made everything from story ideas to parts of languages. Since then, a lot of other people have made much, much better random generators, and that’s what I’m bringing to you this Friday.
Specifically, the Planet Generator created by David Stark, aka Zarkonnen, an Indie game developer from Zurich. Basically, it’s just a clean, simple webpage that randomly generates a thumbnail sketch for a space-opera-esque alien planet. It’s great all by itself, as far as I’m concerned, but the reason I’m sharing it is because Zarkonnen has decided to share his source code. (You can find it at Github.) So, if you’re inspired to take apart some cool code to try and add your own flair to it, you can! And, you might just learn something about programming along the way! My code was so ugly, I never shared it really, but I appreciate everyone, like David, who did, so that I might be inspired and learn.

Don’t worry, though, even if learning programming, or more programming, isn’t one of your New Year’s Resolutions, the already completed tool is kind of fun, too.
Have an “out of this world” weekend, and I’ll blog at you next week!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words, a blog that gets frustratingly low traffic.

12/24/2017

The Coldest War of All

Filed under: Fun,News and Current Events,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

Our nation’s finest tracking holiday spirit.

As I usually do at this time of year, I’m reminding you of where to find Santa and, more specifically, how to track his progress.
During the Cold War, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, more popularly known as “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, 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 sanctioned 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!  Besides, it’s about time for the Federal Government to bring us a little holiday cheer, don’t you think?
I’ll post again on Friday, but, until then, have a very merry Christmas!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

11/24/2017

Short Film Entertainment

Filed under: Art,Fun,NaNoWriMo — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

So, it’s the day after Thanksgiving and you should be at least three-quarters done with your NaNoWriMo novel.

But, instead of writing you’re here. That means one of two things; either you’re so far ahead that you can take a break, or you’re so far behind that you’ve decided to cut yourself some slack. Either way, just as I promised last week, I have more short films to entertain you. And, hey, no judgment if you’ve given up on NaNoWriMo this year. I didn’t even start and I’ve tried before and given up, too, so, I’ve been there. And regardless of why you’re here, I’m glad you stopped by my humble little site.

This time, I’ve got four films for you. I figured it’s a holiday for most of us, so you’d have the extra time.

The first short film comes to us by way of Gizmodo. It’s a mildly scary short about some nasty things that happen on a night shift in a hospital by Alexander Babaev titled Hospice. It’s ghoulish and definitely reminds me of the uncomfortable feelings I’ve had working at night. But, it’s well done and free, so enjoy!
The second one is the longest of the four and a bleak look at the apocalypse. It’s titled Lunatique and it’s by Brazilian filmmaker Gabriel Kalim Mucci. Yes, it’s a bit grim, but it’s also a very well-done film featuring a female protagonist in remnants of the world, which makes it notable for me. And, it’s quite enjoyable, even if it’s about the aftermath of the end of civilization.
The third film is another post-apocalyptic short. It’s a beautiful animated film that was part of the Sploid Short Film Festival in 2015. It’s called Strange Alloy by filmmaker Loïc Bramoullé. It’s beautiful, but also a warning that we, too, may pass into history.
The fourth is a bit more uplifting. Though it does take a turn at the end.
Again, this one comes to us via Gizmodo, but this time it’s I Am Here by Eoin Duffy. It’s a slightly surreal piece about the nature of being. It’s kind of cool, though, and I liked it, which is why I’m sharing it with you.

So, now you’ve had your break. If you’re still writing toward the NaNoWriMo deadline, get back to it! If not, enjoy the rest of your weekend and I hope to see you next week!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

11/3/2017

Eye Candy Break

Filed under: Fun,NaNoWriMo — 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 a Full Moon

So, if you’re participating in National Novel Writing Month, you might need a break.

That’s what I’m going to give you all month long, on Friday, during NaNoWriMo; something you can just enjoy for a few minutes without thinking about your novel. A break from word-counts and deadlines and how your characters aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do or your plot isn’t quite as clear as you thought last month. Something to soothe your brain.
This week, it’s a short science-fiction movie called Azarkant, brought to us by Sploid, a sub-section of Gizmodo.
It’s definitely eye-candy and gorgeous, if a little dark. But, it’s also free and definitely a distraction from trying to write at novel.
So, good luck with the writing and enjoy the break.
And come back next week for more!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

10/20/2017

NaNoWriMo Prep

Filed under: Fun,NaNoWriMo — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

Next month is National Novel Writing Month. Are you ready?

I suppose a better first question is actually “Are you going to participate?” I, for example, am not. I tried it once, several years ago, but ever since then I’ve just been too busy, and too out of practice writing fiction, to try it again. But, I do think about it every year when it rolls around. This year, rather than post things like story starters during NaNoWriMo, I thought I’d post them before, giving the brave souls who are up for the attempt a running start. So, here we go!

First, of course, I’m going to suggest the Fantasist.net Writer’s Resources, because if I can’t promote my own site, what good is having one? On that page you’ll find links to my Story Starter, my World Building Resources and my sad, old Conlang page. Though for conlang resources, I’d suggest going to the Language Construction Kit at Zompist.com or VÜlgÅr, a language generator, which is everything I wanted mine to be and more. In fact, I actually paid the roughly $10 to get the bigger, better version and upgrades!
Those resources sure ought to be enough to get you started on most of the crunchy stuff you might need to get an idea and prepared for writing a novel, if you aren’t already.

Second, though, I’d like to suggest the Bookbaby NaNoWriMo Survival Guide, which has several links to helpful resources, mostly on their site, including some information about publishing your book if you’re a NaNoWriMo “winner” at the end of the month!
Also, while you’re getting ready, you can read through Medium’s coverage of NaNoWriMo, which I’m assuming they’ll do again.

Thirdly, if you haven’t read it, No Plot, No Problem!, which is the original guide to National Novel Writing Month by the founder, and a great way to get your thirty day novel writing experiment launched.

And, finally, there’s the NaNoWriMo website itself. It is quite literally the place to get all the information about the event. Also, it’s a great place to get support while you’re working on your novel!

Come back next week to see if I manage to find even more NaNoWriMo prep tools for you, or have something totally different!

This post originally appeared on the Fantasist’s Scroll, one of my other blogs.

5/19/2017

Free Creative Business Course

Filed under: Fun Work,Life Goals,Photography,The Day Job — 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

Seems like everyone is looking for a “side hustle” these days.

Personally, I’ve never felt very comfortable in a real entrepreneurial role, but even I have gone hunting for a side business on occasion, trying to get a leg up. When I was in college, I wrote. I’d always had the idea that I might eventually write a novel or three, which would, of course, sell forever, giving me a slow trickle of income for years and years. Clearly, that never quite happened. I have, on the other hand, done some consulting on the side, to make up for a hit in salary fifteen years ago. And, of course, to occasionally make a little extra when I needed to spend a little more, like when I got my first digital camera. Then, when I first started getting into photography, I thought I might find a way to leverage that into something. Unfortunately, that never quite happened and I decided to just let my photography be a hobby. But, if I had the opportunity to take this free business course for photographers and other creatives, I may have tried to make a go of it.
Well, if you want to give it a try, check out the course, but do it fast, because the course is only free until July 1st.
And, if you do decide to give professional photography a whirl, check out FindMyPhotographer.com, where you can set up an account in a growing directory of photographers. And, yes, that’s my site, too. You can setup a free account, or upload more sample photos and rank higher in local searches by buying an account. Use discount code Startup25 for a 25% discount for new accounts.

And, that’s all the “side hustle” I have time for this week. Come back next week for more free stuff!

This post originally appeared on 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

11/25/2016

It’s Not Magic

Filed under: Art,Fun,Fun and Games,NaNoWriMo — 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 Crescent

It’s an illusion!

At least, that’s what Doug Henning would say.
Hey, look, it’s been a rough month.  What with the elections, the holiday and NaNoWriMo, you’ve had a lot going on.  I mean, a lot.
No matter who you wanted to win the Presidential Elections this year, the campaign has been brutal.  And, frankly, I think the next four years are going to be chaotic, challenging and a little frightening for a lot of us.  Then, there’s the stress of the Thanksgiving holiday.  I mean, c’mon, dinner with the family is never easy, is it?  And, finally, if you’re participating in National Novel Writing Month, you’ve been churning out words as fast as you can, racing to that deadline.
And, by the way, if you are doing NaNoWriMo then you should be getting near the end of your novel.  I don’t mean to panic you, but there’s really only a couple of days left.  Less than a week, actually.

So, no matter what’s been going on, you deserve a little break.  A chance to just veg out a little and sit like a stupid lump and stare at something cool.  Good news!  I’ve got just the thing!  Ten optical illusions that will blow your mind over at the Huffington Post.  Seriously, these are pretty cool and a great way to let your brain slip into neutral for a little bit so you can recharge before getting back to that big project of yours, NaNoWriMo manuscript or whatever you might be working on.

Go ahead and take a break.  It’s a holiday and you deserve it!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

Next Page »

Powered by WordPress
Any links to sites selling any reviewed item, including but not limited to Amazon, may be affiliate links which will pay me some tiny bit of money if used to purchase the item, but this site does no paid reviews and all opinions are my own.