Diary of a Network Geek

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

11/30/2020

NaNoWriMo is No More

Filed under: About The Author,Life Goals,On Creativity,Stimulus and Production — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is late at night or 11:59 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

At least for this year.

Well, it’s over. Another season of writing and aspiration, or in my case writing and recrimination, is over for the year. On the plus side for me, while I didn’t attempt NaNoWriMo this year, I do have a couple of story ideas and a little bit more of the fantasy world in which they take place worked out in my mind. I still need to work on a naming language, or three, for that world, but if I can do that, and work out a couple of other things, I should be in good shape for next year. The regular writing exercise of “Morning Pages”, which I’ve done since May of this year, seems to be helping, too. I certainly credit that work with me coming up with the two story ideas that I do have floating around in my head, waiting for me to fill in some place names and people names and place them all on a map. Honestly, that’s a fair sight more than I’ve had in a long time, so I’m not even frustrated that I’ve had another year of working so hard at my day job that I didn’t even feel like I could make the attempt this year.

Either way, I hope anyone who did try to write a novel this year was wildly successful!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words! where I normally discuss my efforts at writing and creativity that don’t involve corporate IT work.

11/6/2020

D&D Renaissance and Questing Beast

Filed under: Art,Fun,Fun and Games — 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

After 2020 so far, I feel like we all want to retreat to a fantasy world.

I’m writing this before Election Day, and, I’m sure, well before we know the outcome of the election itself. I hope that it’s a very definitive result, but, I think a lot of us are braced for it all to be a long, drawn-out process. Combine that political insanity with the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions and, well, it’s no surprise that fantasy role-playing games are enjoying a resurgence. And, of course, the great-grand-daddy of role-playing games is Dungeons and Dragons. I haven’t played myself in at least thirty years, but I do own a LOT of the game books. I keep them around for the inspiration they give me and the ways they spark my imagination, though I understand that, somehow, playing D&D has become cool again, with famous actors and Hollywood people playing. In any case, those strange circumstances have brought about a surprising amount of new interest in the game and resources to play. All of that brings me to a post on Boing Boing by Gareth Branwyn about a podcast reviewing FRPG zines. The podcast is on YouTube and is called “Questing Beast” and their channel has all kinds of video podcasts about fantasy role-playing games, but in particular D&D in various forms. Look, like anything, some of these are better than others, but they’re mostly fun if you’re into the game, or if you’re interested in getting back into the game. And, obviously, they’re super into role-playing games, so they’re ultra sincere about the reviews and so on. Oh, and there are a bunch of different “channels” that are part of Questing Beast, each with their own quirks and themes.

Anyway, if you have any interest in this subject at all, I hope this podcast gives you a little bit of distraction from the flaming dumpster fire that has been 2020!

This post originally appeared on my non-technical, much more personal blog, Use Your Words!

10/23/2020

Getting Away From It All

Filed under: 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 a First Quarter Moon

My favorite daydream is more than a vacation.

I’ve mentioned this before on my blog, but when things get really bad, I’ve had the same recurring fantasy; sell everything, buy a tricked out motorhome-tiny-house and run away. Now, I know I would have a hard time actually doing that because not only do I love stuff that takes up a lot of room, like books, but we’d have a hard time fitting our two sixty-five-plus pound dogs into anything mobile on a permanent basis. But, that doesn’t stop me from dreaming about it. Some people fantasize about running away on a sailboat, but my jam is more of a land yacht. Now, as in intellectual exercise, I’ve considered the various options and their attendant advantages and disadvantages. For instance, if one were to get a towable tiny house, getting a truck large enough to tow it becomes a necessity. On the other hand, that towed tiny house can be parked while the truck is used to run errands without bringing the entire house along. With a full motorhome, everything comes with, which actually could be fine for a lot of things, but, also, one person could theoretically be sleeping in bed while the other drives to another destination. Well, it turns out I’m not the only one who’s been thinking about this lately. I’ve looked into it for quite some time and have some hands-on experience from when I was a kid, but there are apparently a lot of first-time buyers. If you’ve been thinking about jumping on this trend, Lifehacker has an article titled “The Beginner’s Guide to Buying The Right RV”. It doesn’t include the tiny house options, but it does run you through all the other options for running away from your life without jumping on a sailboat. You can also scan through Tumblr’s “van life” or “vanlife” to see some of the nicer, cooler setups that people have. (You can also look at their “tiny house” selection to see some other options, though these aren’t all mobile houses.)
Anyway, it’s been that kind of week and that’s where my head has been at lately. So, show up again next week because you never know what I’ll share next!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

4/10/2020

And, Now, A Distraction

Filed under: Art,Fun,Fun and Games,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

I could stand to think about something else for a bit.

For the past several weeks, all we’ve talked about is COVID-19. Not just here on this blog, but, well pretty much everywhere. I mean, every interaction I’ve had with anyone for the past month to six weeks has had something to do with the novel coronavirus. So, if you’re like me, you’re about done talking about it for a bit. Outside of taking some pretty reasonable precautions, like washing your hands more frequently and limiting contact with others as much as possible and wearing a face mask of some kind when you absolutely have to be out with others, there’s really not much that’s in our control here. It’s frustrating, at least for me.
So, to help deal with that frustration, this week, I’m sharing nothing but fun links to amuse and distract. I hope you enjoy them!
Let’s start with Astartes – the Warhammer 40,000 fan film! It’s all fan made, and broken into small parts, but it’s brilliant, lovely work. If you’re a sci-fi fan at all, it’s worth a look.
If you’re looking for something a bit longer, but maybe not a full-length movie, IO9 has five short sci-fi, fantasy, and horror films that will fit the bill. And, yes, they may be a little intense for younger viewers, but they’re basically safe for work from home. And, all have high-production value and are really, really well done. Definitely worth the 12-15 minutes away from your virtual office for a break.
Next up is a somewhat more light-hearted film REBOOTED – a short film about an out of work special effect. It’s cute and, again, amazingly well done. A lovely story told entirely without dialog.
And, speaking of special effects, this next film, BOX, is an art piece about the intersection of video, virtual reality and physical space. Actually, it’s a little hard to explain, but it’s beautiful to watch, so, please, go take a little bit and experience it.
And, to wrap things up, a YouTube channel that gives you things to actually do; PPO Papercraft videos. There are papercraft tutorials here for just about every interest. Everything from paper airplanes to origami flowers and everything in between. As a kid I was given a couple of origami books one time when I was sick and I totally fell in love with paper folding. To this day, I can make a flying crane from memory with nothing more than a gum wrapper. A lot of time inside and away from other people sounds like just the opportunity to learn some new origami forms. I encourage you to try it! It’s fun!

So, there you go, some things to watch and some things to do during the quarantine. I’m not sure how many more weeks of this we’re going to have, but I am sure the longer this goes on the stranger the links are I’ll share.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

11/22/2019

Procedural Fun

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 Crescent

I like my fun to be automatic, free and semi-random.

Way back in the day, I was ahead of the curve on autogenerated “stuff”. In my case, it was semi-random language generation that I ran over on Fantasist.net. Let me tell you, back when I started doing it, I took an incredible amount of flack from the constructed language people for automating any part of the language creation process. Now, of course, there are plenty of the youngsters out there doing it, but it wasn’t always like that. I’m grateful they are though, because my stuff wasn’t programmed all that cleanly and got used so hard it used to crash the servers at my hosting company.
But, other than taking a moment to self-aggrandize, I only bring it up because I love that kind of automated fun. And, to me, that absolutely is fun. I love random generators, which you can still see on the Fantasist.net World Building page, but, since I’m a frustrated writer, all my work deals with text. This week, I’m bringing you something a bit more interesting. First, there’s the Medieval Fantasy City Generator, which, as you may have guessed, randomly generates a pretty good, albeit simple, city map for your stories or adventures. It’s quick, and detailed enough, but loads of fun. The programmer, Watabou, as they’re known on /r/proceduralgeneration at Reddit, has actually made several related generator toys like this. My other favorite is the One-Page Dungeon. It’s a neat, little dungeon that’s perfect for a quick FRPG adventure, if you’re so inclined. And, I thought, with the holidays nearly upon us, that friends gathering with limited time, might like such a thing to game with. Also? They’re just fun to look at. At least, if you’re an old game geek like me.

So, there you are, just some quick, procedurally generated fun on the Friday before Thanksgiving!
And, be sure to check out the other stuff Watabou has shared, too! There are some fun, free games as well.
Enjoy!

This post first appeared at Use Your Words!

3/23/2018

A Little Fantasy

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 First Quarter Moon

No, not the naughty kind!

Ugh, you perverts who immediately thought of something naughty should be ashamed of yourselves! Also? You are my people.
Seriously, though, this is the totally safe for work kind of fantasy. And by “little”, what I mean is “miniature”, as in small dioramas. Because, that’s what I have for you this week. Videos, brought to you via MAKE Magazine, of tiny pseudo-Medieval buildings and villages created, from scratch, by someone who goes by the pseudonym “Landvaettr”. They’re kind of beautiful and, for me, fascinating due to the shift in scale and super high level of detail. It’s brilliant work.
So go check out Weekend Watch: Explore the Miniature World of Landvaettr’s Lair! It’s really fun and, as the name implies, perfect for a weekend distraction.
And, we all know the weekend really starts on Friday!

 

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words by J. K. Hoffman.

4/21/2017

Magical Maps

Filed under: Art,Fun,On Creativity — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:17 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Autogenerated fantasy landscapes feel like randomly programmed dreams.

I wouldn’t really call myself a writer any more, since I don’t really write regularly, outside of emails at work and these weekly desperate blog posts. But, I was once, and when I was, I would obsess over what fantasy writers and fans call “world building”. In fact, eventually, that obsession took over all my time and energy and became my primary excuse for not writing. Still, I find it hard to let go of the idea that if I’m writing a fantasy story and don’t know where people are, or are from, or are going, that I can’t relax into telling their story. I know I’m not alone.
So, that leaves a writer with a couple of choices; steal someone else’s setting, or make your own.
I’m not a big fan of stealing, or even borrowing, someone else’s fantasy setting, because there’s always the possibility that you may need to pay royalties one day, if your new work sells. Or, that other author, or their estate, may squash your work altogether. It’s been known to happen. So, then, your other option is to build your own.
Personally, I’ve always loved the maps that come with my favorite fantasy stories. And, when I tried to write, I often would spend inordinate amounts of time trying to draw my own.
Now, though, there are other options. The one I’m sharing with my faithful readers this week is Uncharted Atlas. It’s a Twitterbot that automagically generates a pretty random fantasy map every hour. Yeah, a new fantasy world every hour. And some of these maps are pretty damn good! You can read some notes by the developer, Martin O’Leary, at his website about both how the maps were generated and < href="https://mewo2.com/notes/naming-language/">how the names for the maps were generated. Also, that page explaining the code includes an interactive, step-by-step example of generating a map. It gives you a bit more control over what the final map looks like and is a great way to waste a few minutes on a Friday.

Okay, so this isn’t likely to really fix any writer’s block issues, or even jump start my own writing, but, hey, it IS a great way to waste a little time on a Friday!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words

10/21/2016

Build Your World

Filed under: Fun,Life Goals,NaNoWriMo,On Creativity,Stimulus and Production — 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

Now you have a story and the characters in it, but what about the rest of your world?

Most people think that only fantasy or science-fiction writers have to create a world for their writing, but even writers who create contemporary stories create their worlds. They just create a fictional world based more closely to our real world, which is pretty subjective in any case.  I’ve been assuming that you are following these posts in order this month, but there’s certainly no reason that you should start with a story and not your world.  I know that I often start with a setting when I’m thinking of stories and, especially when I’m thinking of fantasy stories, a map is often a great place to start.  In fact, in How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, Orson Scott Card writes about starting a novel by essentially doodling a map.  And, thanks to the internet, there are an almost endless number of pages about making maps.  Let’s start with A Guide to RPG Mapmaking.  It’s focused on fantasy role-playing games, but everything in the guides and tutorials are applicable to other kinds of fantasy maps.  And, if you like that, check out Observations of the Fox: Map Tutorials for even more details on creating detailed maps.  Most of the techniques there are pretty applicable to any tools you might use, and there are many to choose from, but if you’re serious about making maps and aren’t a professional artist, I highly recommend ProFantasy’s Campaign Cartographer.  It’s not incredibly expensive, and there is a bit of a learning curve, but I think it’s worth the investment in time and money for some of the results.  To see what some of those results can be, with practice, as well as Campaign Cartographer specific tutorials, be sure to visit Ralf Schemmann’s site Maps and More.
And, if you just want some inspiration, check out Fantastic Maps or Fantasy Cartography by Sean Macdonald.

Of course, you may not need a map at all, but want to create some other details about your fictional world to make it seem more real.  For that, I humbly submit Fantasist.net’s own World Building resources for your use, which includes, among other things, an on-line Timeline Generator to create a little history that your characters can refer to in conversation.  It also has a link to the incredibly complete Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions by Patricia C. Wrede, who covers pretty much every detail you could ever ask yourself about a fictional world.

As much as I love worldbuilding, in recent years I’ve realized that I can easily get so lost in world and setting creation that I never get around to actually writing fiction!  Don’t fall into that trap!  Make enough world to get your story going and then let the world create itself as you go.  For some more helpful worldbuilding ideas along those lines, take a look at Chuck Wendig’s 25 Things You Should Know About Worldbuilding.  It’s a very up-to-date approach and I found it quite helpful!

So, now you should have characters, setting and plot nailed down and you can start letting that marinate before actually starting National Novel Writing Month in November.  But, come back next week to see what final tools I have for you before you launch your NaNoWriMo project!

This post originally appeared at The Fantasist’s Scroll.

6/24/2011

FRPG Cologne

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:15 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Geek smells must be on my mind lately.

So, two weeks ago, I brought you Eau d’BBQ.  This week, it’s fantasy role-playing game cologne.
And, no, I’m not even kidding.
From the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab website:

In most pen and paper fantasy RPGs, three of the primary attributes that you must choose for your character are race, class, and alignment. Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s RPG scent series was designed to emulate the character creation process, and are meant to be layered in order to create a character concept. In short: you layer your class, race, and the two fragrances that compose your alignment to construct your character scent.

Okay, I hate to perpetuate a stereotype, but, well, I’ve hung out with gamers.  Lots of gamers.  And, I’ve got to be honest, for most of them, smelling nice was just not a big priority.  On the other hand, the genre may have changed in the 20+ years I’ve been away from it and now regular showers and healthy eating habits are all the rage.  It could happen, I suppose.  In any case, I applaud these folks for tapping into a virgin market, if you’ll pardon the pun.
Also?  The whole idea of having to buy several scents to “layer” them?  Marketing genius!

2/4/2011

Arab/Muslim Science-Fiction

Filed under: Art,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:40 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

This may cost me readers.

But, honestly, I think that’s okay.
I’ve never been shy about criticizing aspects of internationalism that I don’t like, like off-shoring call-center jobs.  But, on the other hand, I’m also not shy about reminding people that extremists give us a skewed view of a larger population.  I know there are people in the United States right now that think every Arab or Muslim is bad.  I disagree.  I think those people who claim to believe that they are all evil are simply ignorant of the rich and diverse culture that exists outside of their own small neighborhood.  I hope before those of my readers that may think that there is no such thing as a good Arab, or Muslim, follows the link I’m about to share and reads a little of what they find there before writing me off.

Some time ago, through various other blogs, I came across a link to Apex magazine’s 18th on-line issue.  The Arab/Muslim Issue.
I have to admit, I was intrigued.  For one thing, I don’t think I’ve read any recent fiction by anyone from that culture.  For another, Apex specializes in fantasy and science-fiction.
This is some brilliant work.
Go read “The Green Book” by Amal El-Mohtar, a story about a book possessed of a spirit that corrupts her reader.
Or, try “50 Fatwas for the Virtuous Vampire” by Pamela K. Taylor about a Muslim vampire trying to follow the Law of the Koran and stay pure.
Or, my favorite, “The Faithful Soldier, Prompted” by Saladin Ahmed about a soldier who’s combat implants talk to him with the voice of God Himself, perhaps.
There are more, but these three stories were masterful looks at a culture most of us don’t see.  They see myths reinterpreted in ways we may not have considered, or a future which may be all too possible.

Really, I joke around a lot on wasting time on a Friday, but these stories aren’t a waste of your time, I promise.
Go and read them.  Then think.
Thanks.

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.