Diary of a Network Geek

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

3/27/2020

Random Stay-At-Home Resources

Filed under: Fun,Hoffman's Home for Wayward Boys,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Photography,The Network Geek at Home — 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

This may become a theme while we all wait out this COVID-19 virus.

This week, I finally got everyone else at work all set to work from home, if at all possible, and started working from home myself. I was surprised how much of my work is often determined by people in the office having problems. I shouldn’t be, though, considering how many times I tell fellow techs that the only reason we have jobs is because other people have problems.
In any case, I have a couple of links that I hope will help you solve some of the unusual problems you may be running into at home these days, thanks to the quarantine. Some may be more fun than others!
First, if you’re like us, you’ve been eating a little differently than normal. My wife is pretty incredible about coming up with meals that use whatever she happens to have on the shelf or in the freezer, but thinking of delicious meals with limited resources can be a huge challenger right now. Thankfully, BoingBoing pointed me to SuperCook! It’s a free website that will help you find recipes from the most popular cooking websites that use whatever ingredients you select. It’s pretty amazing, and it’s got some great suggestions that, I hope, will break up the monotony of cooking at home, when it’s a challenge to eat out. There’s also an iPhone and an Android app for you, if that’s what you prefer. (Links are on the website.)
But, if you’re willing to risk the delivery schedules, and want to add something more interesting, or exotic, or just plain fancy, you can try one of these mail-order food sites, reviewed by Esquire. They might get a little pricey, but you’ll definitely be getting unique and interesting ingredients to, if you’ll pardon the pun, “spice up” your regular, day-to-day meal and flavor options.

On a somewhat lighter note, while we’re talking about groceries, you may have had some “experiences” trying to get things at grocery stores recently. In particular, for some reason, people have been panic buying toilet paper. Well, I can’t help you get any of the desperately desired commodity, but, thanks to BoingBoing, I can share a video that explains the phenomena of panic buying. It’s actually a pretty good look at why, of all things, toilet paper, is in short supply lately.

And, this week, I’ve got two links for the grown-ups who have gotten bored and want to finally get some use out of that expensive camera they got for Christmas. The first of these two links is geared toward the potential professional photographer; Professional Photographers of America more than 1100 online photo classes for free. Of course, we don’t know how long they’ll offer these free, but if you’ve got a camera and internet access, you can take some classes and either develop a “side hustle”, or maybe even a new career, if you’re afraid of being laid off. And, that’s assuming you haven’t been already due to either the economic fall out of COVID-19 or the disastrously low price of oil.
The other link for photographers is a little more fun. 7 Photo Challenges for Photographers Who Are Stuck at Home. Amateur or pro, there’s nothing like a good challenge to keep the skills sharp.

So, there you have it. Some links to help you get through the next week. No telling how long we’ll all be locked down, so there’s no telling what I’ll post for you next week. The longer I’m home, though, the stranger things are likely to get.
Stay safe! Stay home! Wash your hands!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

3/20/2020

Miscellaneous Fun Links

Filed under: Art,Fun,Fun and Games,News and Current Events,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 Waning Crescent

Look, it’s been a crazy, chaotic week, which means you’re getting a crazy, chaotic post.
So, like all the rest of the IT pros in small shops all over the world this week, I’ve been scrambling to get as many people in my office able to work from home as possible. It’s been a long, frustrating week and basically nothing has gone the way I’d planned. Granted, that does mean that some things are actually better than I planned, but, honestly, most aren’t. Either way, it’s left me precious little time and focus to give you anything coherent. But, it is still a Friday and I feel compelled to share something. So, random fun links it shall be!
A lot of folks are stuck at home with their kids, who are out of school because it’s been closed while the academic year has been delayed. So, to help parents keep kids engaged, I have two links for you. First, there are Free NASA Space Projects via Space.com. I’m in the greater Houston area and we all get a little into NASA, because they’re such a big employer here and we have so much amazing history with the space program. These projects are all things you can do at home and keep learning while the schools figure things out. The second link is to a downloadable Cthulhu coloring book from Chaosium. Yes, it may warp their little minds, but it’s coloring! And, coloring is good, clean fun, as well as a known way to reduce stress and anxiety. Though, I’m not responsible if you all summon an Elder God!
The next two links are for book lovers. Specifically for book lovers who love science fiction and fantasy. First, or third, depending on how you’re counting, there’s the Tor eBook Club, which regularly offers free ebooks from popular authors. Through the end of the day of this posting, you can join and download Redshirts by John Scalzi! Or, you can check out the fourth link, the Baen Books Free Library! Again, ebooks, but free and from some very well known, award-winning authors. Both are just the thing if you’re looking for something new to read without spending a lot of money.
And, finally, a slightly stranger than normal link, specifically for our most current concerns, How Much Toilet Paper!?, a website that will help you calculate just how far your stash of toilet paper will last during this most current, or any future, pandemics! A fun, and hopefully funny, website about an increasingly serious topic. And, I know that first hand as I actually ordered toilet paper for my older parents online and had it sent to them. And, that’s no joke.

So, seriously, take care of yourselves and each other. Don’t go out more than you need to. Wash your hands. Stop panic-buying essentials that we all need. And, stay safe.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!  My other blog.

3/13/2020

Escape Vehicles

Filed under: Art,Fun,Speculation — 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

And, by that I mean escapism by way of space vehicles.

At this point it shouldn’t be a surprise that I love science fiction. Whether it’s literature, movies, television or even comic books, I pretty much love it all. What’s more, I often find myself theorizing about it. Frankly, at this point I would imagine that my poor wife is tired of me comparing modern military submarines to the future of military spacecraft. I mean, it’s logical when you look at it, but it seems like so few have!
In any case, when I hear about other geeks like me who speculate on the ins and outs of scifi spacecraft, I get excited. And, that’s what I’m bringing you this week, via Boing Boing, Spacedock, the YouTube channel that looks at the “…specifications, history and lore of fictional spacecraft from science fiction. Any Spacecraft, any Sci-Fi.” Yes, it’s as geeky and fun as it sounds. Seriously, their “How To Land on the Battlestar Galactica is an amazing exploration of what we saw in the show and an excellent extrapolation of what we didn’t see, but had to have been there to make the rest work. It’s definitely worth a look for fans.

Besides, it’s Friday and if you’ve been stuck at home out of COVID-19 fear, you deserve a little escapism.
Enjoy! And stay well.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

1/24/2020

DIY Nutrition Labels

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 New Moon

Just like at the factory farm.

I was going to just gloss over why I was looking for this and get right to the fun, but, let’s face it; at this point I’m pretty much writing this blog for myself. So, my blushing bride was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome a couple weeks ago and she read that one thing which might help is going to basically a ketogenic diet. That led me to look for some DIY keto-friendly energy bars, which I were shelf stable and I could seal up in a small food vacuum storage bag. (You can find my latest recipe discoveries on my Pinterest Recipies and Cooking board.) And, all that led me to think it would be fun to put a nutrition label on my creations.
So, first, I’d need to break down the ingredients in the recipe so I could enter it into the label. After searching around, I found two that analyze the recipe and generate the label. First, there’s cleverly named recipenutrition.com. It’s really simple to use and free. Then, there’s the even more user friendly Very Well Fit site’s Recipe Nutrition Analyzer. Both are free and give you a basic nutrition label.
Finally, if you want to take the output from those labels and make something that’s a little fancier, you can grab your info and head to the Nutrition Label Generator at OnlineLabels.com. Also free, but you’re got to have your data already worked out.
And, while these look like great labels, I’d make sure they were up to FDA standards before using them on a commercial product. Can’t be too safe!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!
(Gee, I miss the plugin that used to cross post and attribute for me.  I know I ought to write one, but who has the time?)

1/17/2020

Social Media Fonts

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 a Third Quarter Moon

Fonts for services without them.

Well, two services without them, at any rate. Now, keep in mind this is far from perfect, but it does, in fact, work. A little bit better for Instagram than for Twitter, but, those are the two services that this was meant for. I saw this first on Lifehacker, so credit where credit is due, but they didn’t mention the problem using this with your Twitter profile. Neither service offers the ability to style your biography with a good font, and that’s what the Metatags.io Font Generator allows you to do. On Instagram, there’s no significant character limit to your biography, so there’s no issue. But, on Twitter, the way the generator makes the fonts happen, shortens your available characters pretty severely. So, there you go. It does work, but there are some limitations that you’ll have to play around with. And, after all, what can you expect from a free service, right?
Come back next week for even more random junk from my browsing history!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

1/10/2020

Appreciating Art

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 a Full Moon

Steve Martin teaching us about art.

I love art. I don’t know much about art, really, in spite of all the things my good friend, and famous art star, Mark Flood has tried to teach me. I have always enjoyed art, though, even when I was a kid. I used to spend what was for me, at the time, a ridiculous amount of money on metal sculptures as a kid. Mostly small things, but visually interesting to me. Like a cricket made from iron nails and a spark plug. Another time, I talked a wood carver into selling me one of his unfinished works of a raccoon head, which sits on my dresser to this day. I’ve had that for probably more than 40 years at this point, and I no longer remember the artist’s name or what it cost. When I was working my first job in downtown Chicago, I had the incredible good fortune to run into Curt Frankenstein at an art market after my shift on a Sunday afternoon. I spoke with him for some time before I realized he was the artist I was viewing, but I’m pleased to say that my rudimentary understanding of etchings and print-making favorably impressed him. At the time, I was only able to afford two of his wonderful surrealist prints, which hand in my home still.
I don’t think I started to appreciate abstract work until I started hanging around with Mark Flood. And, of course, it’s his abstracts that I love the most. I’m lucky enough to have been gifted one, though he calls it payment for some computer work I did for him, and I love it. Everyone remarks on it.
But, before I digress even more, let me share the link I meant to give you this week: Steve Martin makes abstract art theory interesting, via Boing Boing. It’s a short video in the MoMA series The Way I See It for the BBC. There are several other people talking about their favorite work, or at least their feelings about and connection to art. It’s quite good and I definitely recommend seeing them all, but it’s hard to top Steve Martin saying “I believe pictures reveal themselves over time…” I mean, that’s really the best thing to say about art. Go, watch the video, then go to a museum and look at art.

In any case, enjoy!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words, my more personal blog.

12/27/2019

Chancy Resolutions

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 Waxing Crescent

Another new year and another chance to break promises to yourself!

I haven’t made formal New Year’s Resolutions in a long, long time because, let’s face it, no one ever really keeps them for long, including me. At least I know that I’m no different than most people, which is why gyms and churches are both bursting at the seams in January, but thin out by April. Still it’s traditional, so I’ll share, again, my own little solution to the New Year’s Resolution “problem”.
Back in the day, when I still had delusions that I could make myself into a decent programmer, I whipped up a New Year’s Resolution Generator. I based it, in part, on some ideas from the Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Holidays, but I have to admit, I threw in some of my own warped sense of humor. And, I weighted things a little more toward heavier drinking and looser morals because I figured those were the resolutions that would be easier to keep. Also, I figured they’d be funnier.

In any case, it was apparently funny enough that Comedy Central Insider linked it in their blog back when I first released it all the way back in 2006. Which is pretty cool, no matter how long ago that was. Besides, can completely random “advice” from a website really be any worse than the suggestions you got from family over the holidays? In today’s world of chaos and unreality, it honestly doesn’t seem as bad an idea as it used to! So, why not give it a shot yourself? You don’t even have to share about it publicly. No one will know but us!

And try to have a good year, no matter what happens. Make time to love your loved ones, do good work and add something positive to the world. Or one of the random resolutions. Whichever seems likelier to produce good results.

This post first appeared on Use Your Words, which is ironic considering that the New Year’s Resolution Generator is on this site. Though, maybe, in the future, I’ll update it to a PHP program or make it into a WordPress plugin or widget or something.

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!

11/15/2019

Talking Dog

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 Waning Gibbous

Hey, that dog can talk!

Okay, so not literally, but pretty close.
I have a friend who has this idea he calls “the talking dog theory”. It goes like this. Dog lovers talk to their dogs as if they’re people who might answer back. And, what if those dogs could talk back? Would we care what the dog said? Or would we be so amazed to get a response that we’d sit with rapt fascination, thinking, “How incredible! This animal can talk!” So, what if we applied that to people in a meeting that were annoying us with the banalities? Instead of getting annoyed with them, maybe we should simply be amazed that that animal can talk!
Well, amusing anecdotes aside, what I have for you this week is an actual talking dog, sort of. I’ve seen this multiple places, but I’m sharing the link from BestLife, about Stella the “talking” dog. Stella’s owner is Christina Hunger who is a speech pathologist. She made Stella a “sound board” with some common words that her darling doggie might want to know, like “out” and “ball” and “play”. Then she set about teaching Stella what the buttons all met. Now, Stella uses the sound board to “talk” to her owner and tell Ms. Hunger what she wants. The video is pretty remarkable.

Honestly, though, I don’t think I want to give my two dogs any more encouragement to try and tell me what they want. Lily would always be hitting the buttons for “hungry – feed – me” and Penny would be always asking for “out – squirrel” or “rub – tummy”. And I know what they want already.
In any case, great videos and fun, even if you’re not a dog lover! Though if you’re not a dog lover, I’m not sure I’d care for your opinion anyway.

Enjoy!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words!

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10/25/2019

The Horror of Corporate Life

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 Crescent

Literally, horror rooted in corporate life.

On a bad day or week, the endless, repetitive drudgery of corporate life can seem like an endless horror story. I mean, we’ve all felt that from time to time, right? And, for those of us who seem to work harder and harder for less and less return, it can sometimes feel like there’s some hidden class of people, a separate breed in a way, that get ahead regardless of their work ethic. When we’re faced with the occasionally terrifying idea that the eldritch horror of our jobs may be something that no one else understands, well, it’s easy to think the corporate world may be some kind of cthonian conspiracy.
At least, this short film Corporate Monster seems to agree. And, it’s a fantastic way to celebrate both Halloween and your corporate servitude.
Enjoy!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

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