Diary of a Network Geek

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


Nigerian Scifi Movies

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 a Full Moon

Technology has really opened up possibilities for independent film makers.

The great thing about the internet, and technology in general, has opened up a world of opportunity for both creators and consumers. When I was younger, the barriers to entry for the creative world were pretty steep and, in some cases, virtually insurmountable. But, now that so many people can get their hands on relatively inexpensive electronics and direct access to an audience via the internet, that paradigm is shifting. For instance, the self-publishing world has really exploded, pumping the markets full of cheap ebooks. Granted, their quality varies wildly, but at the price-point of some of these, more people are willing to take a risk on some new author than ever before.
The same, as it turns out, is true for video and movie production. It seems like more and more people are making movies of all kinds and sharing them directly with viewers, either through their websites or via a service like YouTube. Again, the quality varies significantly, but for a 10 or 15 minute movie, I’m definitely willing to take a look. In fact, I backed two movies on Kickstarter myself, the sadly unsuccessful Tube Open Movie, which was a total failure, and the actually really fantastic Ghosts With Shit Jobs, a wonderful scifi movie about a future where the Chinese economy outstrips our own and giant spiders wreak havoc.
This week, thanks to Boing Boing, I’ve got a link to a collection of Nigerian science fiction shorts. Boing Boing shares their ‘showpiece’ film, Z:The Beginning, but the Critics Company YouTube channel has a lot more where that came from.
These short films are definitely worth a look. It’s a whole other set of thoughts about the future than we’re used to seeing in the West. And, a great way to waste some time on a Friday afternoon!

This post first appeared on Use Your Words!


History of Doggos

Filed under: 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 a New Moon

I think it’s understandable that I have dogs on my mind lately.

It’s only been a few weeks since I had to put my 16-year-old dog, Hilda, down and I’m still surprised how hard it was. Unlike almost any other domesticated animal, dogs have an incredibly close relationship with humans. I was always amazed at how Hilda could seem to read my every expression and know just what me clearing my throat at her meant. Frankly, I think that, along with the innate urge to please people, may be the chief advantage of having dogs over children. Also, dogs don’t ask for expensive electronics or college educations. Dogs are humankind’s best, and possibly oldest, friends. There’s evidence that humans and domestic dogs have lived together more than 12,000 years by even the most conservative estimates. And, all the hundreds of varieties of dogs all came from a common ancestor of the wolf. So, think about that, everything from the Bull Mastiff to the Shiba Inu to the Chinese Crested all came from a common, wolf-like ancestor.
And, that’s what I’m sharing with you this week, a TED video, by way of BoingBoing titled A Brief History of Dogs. It’s only five minutes long and mostly accurate, though it incorrectly says that all modern dogs are descended from the grey wolf, “canis lupus”, which researchers know is not quite correct any more. (For more on that, check out this article from LiveScience.)

Anyway, the video is short and fun and mostly accurate. And, it’s about dogs. Who doesn’t like videos about dogs, even if they’re animated and about science?
Enjoy your weekend!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.


An OS Inside An OS

Filed under: About The Author,Better Living Through Technology,GUI Center,Linux,Never trust a Network Admin with a screwdriver,The Network Geek at Home,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:55 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

As you might have guessed from the title of this blog, I’m a geek. In fact, I’m actually a professional geek. Rumor has it, being a geek is cool now. I’ll get back to you on that.
In any case, one of the ways my geek has expressed itself is in early support for Linux.  I’ve used Linux, one way or another, for more than twenty years.  It’s hard to believe, but it’s true.  What’s more, I’ve been Linux certified for more than ten years!  Strange but true!  I don’t use Linux as my main operating system, though, because I live in the real world, not a Techno-Libertarian Utopia.  And, yes, that means, I use Windows.  At home, it’s Windows 10, because that’s what came installed on the laptops I got for my wife and I while I was a highly-paid contractor in 2016 and we were refreshing all our electronics.  But, much to my surprise, there’s a way to run both Windows and Linux, together on the same machine!  Without having a dual-boot system!  Thanks to an article from the Linux Journal, which almost went the way of the dinosaurs last year, I have activated Windows Subsystem for Linux, which is ONLY available on Windows 10, and then installed Ubuntu, which is free, from the Microsoft Store.  The little screen-shot at the top of this post is Ubuntu, running in its own, little window, on my Windows 10 laptop.

This is exciting!
Now, I can brush up my bash scripting by setting up a series of rsync jobs to keep my two Western Digital MyCloud drives in sync, essentially backing one up to the other.  From the literature, I had thought that was built into the models I got, but it wasn’t.  I tried to use SSH to get that setup directly on the MyCloud devices, since they’re running some limited *nix kernel, but something about the way they were configured made connecting one directly to the other and running rsync from working “as expected”.  This, though, should get me around all that.
Now, all I have to do sort out the syntax for properly mounting the Windows shares I’ve set up in the Ubuntu virtual machine app.  So, I’m not 100% there yet, but this is a great start!



When To Buy What

Filed under: About The Author,Personal Care,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 Waxing Gibbous

Yes, you can save money by buying at the right time.

About a week ago, our dryer died. Or maybe our washing machine died. All we know is, right in the middle of a load, my wife started to smell the most horrible stench of burning electronics. She turned everything off and unplugged it all, but the fried electric smell of dead appliances lingered in the air for a couple days afterward. It was sad. But, on the other hand, that washer and dryer were over sixteen years old and, frankly, due for replacement. Actually, that’s one reason we’re not entirely sure which one became a deadly house fire potential hazard. When we refinanced our house last year, we agreed that when either of these appliances died, we would replace them both. We even set aside the money to pay for them, so that we wouldn’t go back into credit card debt after working so hard to get out from under those immoral interest rates. Sadly, they didn’t wait until the right month so that we could save money with a good sale, because the best time to buy household appliances is apparently November, especially around “Black Friday”. (Which is okay, really, because we already knew what we wanted to get and they almost never seem to go on sale.)

Are you surprised that I know there’s a good time to buy appliances? Don’t be. I only know because finance websites always seem to publish a guide to what month is best to buy what consumer good. This year, take a look at the one at Time’s Money section’s Month-by-Month Guide for the Best Time to Buy Everything. For instance, they suggest that the best time to buy a TV or other consumer electronics is the second half of January and February. Or that May might be the best time for furniture sales, which I did NOT know! In any case, if you can afford to wait and plan, you might be able to score yourself a good deal with their guide.

Good luck with your saving and spending in 2018!
(And, for those of you who are curious, we bought an American made washer and dryer; Speed Queen, though we actually got two separate units, not the combo.)

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.



Secret Phone Menu

Filed under: Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work,Linux,Ooo, shiny... — 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 Full Moon

No, I’m not talking about ordering take-out.

Have you ever wanted to get to the hidden parts of your phone?  You know, those secret commands that technicians use to get your phone to give up its deepest, darkest secrets?  Well, if you’re an iPhone user, you’re in luck!  Yahoo recently shared all those with the world, and, now, I’m sharing that same information with you, dear readers:  How to Access the Hidden Menus on your iPhone, at Yahoo Tech.

If you’re an…
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Build-It-Yourself Camera

Filed under: Art,Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:25 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Sometimes, I think the only way to really understand a technology is to build it from scratch.

I’m not sure if that’s really true, or what the folks who created the Bigshot camera had in mind either, but, I have to admit, their product looks like they agree with me.
I usually try to avoid advertising things here, especially if I’m not getting anything cash out of it myself, but I couldn’t resist talking about this fascinating project.  If you read any…
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Factory Reset

Filed under: Fun Work,Geek Work,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:22 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Have you ever wanted a “do over”?

Remember when we were kids and we’d be out playing and something crazy would happen that totally messed up someone’s game?  We’d more often than not give them a “do over”.  We’d let them reset and try again.  Wouldn’t that be nice to have in every aspect of life?
Well, speaking as a professional network geek, sometimes there is, at least on some network equipment.  We call it a “factory refresh” or, as the title of this post implies, a “factory reset”.  Basically, for  you non-techs, the idea is that sometimes a configuration gets so wrong, so borked, so bad that it’s easier to just reset a device back to how it shipped from the factory and start the configuration process over again from scratch.  I cannot tell you how often I’ve been happy to have this feature and be able to use it.

Of course, sometimes, we inherit these borked devices.  Or we foolishly throw out the two-page manual that tells us how to reset the thing.  Then, we have to go searching for the information on how to reset whatever it is we’re trying desperately to get configured before the weekend, so we don’t have to stay late, again, on a Friday.
Well, wouldn’t it be nice if that was all in one place?  Well, now it is, mostly.  There’s a handy site/wiki called Factory Reset that has most, if not all, of the reset instructions for the most popular and common computer appliances out there.  They’ve got everything from routers to switches to network-attached storage.

So, if you’re wrestling with some device that has gotten out of control, again, why not pop over there and find out how to reset it so you can get out of the office and enjoy your weekend?


My Review of Think Tank Airport Ultralight V 2.0, Backpack with Security Cable, Lock and Shoulder Harness.

Filed under: Red Herrings,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:59 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Originally submitted at Adorama

Think Tank Airport Ultralight V 2.0, Backpack with Security Cable, Lock and Shoulder Harness.

Airport Easy

By J K Hoffman from Jersey Village, TX on 8/1/2010
5out of 5

Pros: Customizable, Roomy, Airplane Friendly, Comfortable

Best Uses: Transporting Gear, Travel

Describe Yourself: Photo Enthusiast

I got the Think Tank Airport Ultralight specifically for a trip to San Francisco, so I could get all my gear on the plane and didn’t have to trust it to the TSA. It was *perfect* for getting a maximum amount of gear on the plane and it fit in the overhead bin *easily*. I managed to get a camera body, two lenses, three hot-shoe flashes, batteries, chargers, and assorted cables and light modifiers into this bag comfortably and safely.
The outer pocket took my 15′ laptop snugly, but securely. Note that the picture included a laptop sleeve that did NOT come with this bag. However, after adding my own inexpensive laptop sleeve to help get me through security easier, this bag essentially let me travel with a small, portable studio ON THE PLANE. Thanks to this bag, I checked NO camera gear or electronics at all, but safely carried it all on with me!

I highly recommend this bag! It’s got good, strong construction and handled my gear well. I’m very happy with this purchase. It was worth every penny!



TSA Has Sticky Fingers

Filed under: Adventures with iPods,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:59 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

Well, I guess this is what happens when you don’t adequately screen candidates.

Of course, most of what the TSA does is make us feel safer, not anything that really makes us safer.  Still, I think we should draw the line at TSA employees ransacking our luggage for electronics.  And, no, before you ask, I didn’t lose anything this last trip to San Francisco.  In part, because I brought every bit of camera gear on the plane with me in a carry-on bag.  Might have been a good thing, considering the fact that the TSA did go into my checked bag to, uh, check my underwear or something.  After all, my boxer-briefs are quite possibly a threat to national security.  No, really, they must be.

Seriously, this is a huge problem and it has been for ages.  Photographers all know that you should never, ever check your camera gear through Baltimore, among other places.  Frankly, I have too much personal “disposable” income invested in my camera gear to check it through anywhere.  I’ve heard too many stories about things going missing from bags.  In fact, when I got into Houston and collected my bag, I was making small talk with a fellow passenger who was apparently shocked to discover that TSA baggage inspectors had been caught taking things out of people’s luggage.  Though, he had to admit that he had noticed some things had gone missing from his bag while traveling.  He figured, however, that they were just so over-worked that they’d forgotten to put it back in the bag.  Yeah, that’s actually what he told me.  Maybe it’s just me, but, well, I just don’t trust the average government employee.

I used a ThinkTank Airport Ultralight v2.5 to get all my photography gear into an overhead bin.  I ended up not using everything I brought, but I was glad to have it, just because I might have wanted it.  So, it was worth the investment.  I’ll probably get around to a review later.

Anyway, if you’re traveling, watch your bags and what goes into them.


Brief Joe McNally Seminar Update

Filed under: Art,Fun,Life Goals,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is in the late evening or 10:40 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

So, I may have mentioned once or twice that I was going to take a photography seminar this past weekend.

To say that two days with Joe McNally, 25+ year veteran of Life, National Geographic, Time and others, learning about flash and portrature was fantastic is an understatement.  I don’t quite know what I was expecting, but I figured that it was mostly going to be over my head.  Still, at a mere $150 for two days worth of access to a brilliant photographer like Joe McNally, anything I might possibly pick up would be worth the money.  I’m so, so glad I took that attitude and just went in with as open a mind as possible, ready to soak up whatever I could.  I learned so much in those two days that I think my brain is going to melt and ooze out my ears.

First of all, I was completely expecting to roll out of that class with a wish list that was filled with all kinds of expensive “big” studio flash and portable power packs.  I was anticipating a list of equipment that ran into the thousands of dollars.  Instead, I was shown what tiny, hot-shoe flashes can do.  I listened to a pro talk at great length about how much we can get out of shaping the light that comes out of many different light sources, but especially how to use these little “pocket” flashes to get big effects.  It was, to say the least, an eye-opener.  It completely changed how I think about light and flash and portraiture.

Secondly, I’ve learned to use my camera in a totally different way.
I now sight with my left eye and use a different stance, which I now think of as the Joe McNally Hold, or the McNally Stance.  It lets me stabilize the camera better, keeping it tight in against my left shoulder and use what turns out to be my strong eye.  For years I’ve known that my left eye was stronger due to my slightly varied perscription, but I’d always forced myself to use my right eye, which I’d thought of as my dominant eye.
I also had gotten used to shooting in full manual mode, but now I’m changing to Aperture Priority mode as my “default”.  Why?  Beacause, as Joe said, using a camera in full manual mode, is “… like driving a Ferrari to church.”  That digital camera is a very sophisticated bit of electronics and not taking advantage of all that built-in smarts is, well, just a waste.  So, now, I’m trying to take full advantage of those smarts for a change.  My learning curve oof photography just got knocked down a peg or two, but I’m okay with that.  I’m hoping that it will result in some better pictures, eventually.

And, finally, based on what I saw this past weekend, the secret to great photography, somehow, is gaffer’s tape.  Man, they used that stuff for everything!

Incidentally, you can see some of the photos I took at the seminar on my Flickr page; Joe McNally Seminar.

If I get time, I may write some more about what I learned at this fantastic seminar.  It’s a little overwelming at times to consider all the “stuff” he poured into our heads.
Again, it was fantastic!

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