Diary of a Network Geek

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

2/12/2021

Sea Shanty Revival

Filed under: Art,Fun,music — 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 know I’m a little late to this trend, but all these modern folk songs are fun, so I’m sharing it anyway.

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you the unusual juxtaposition of modern songs done in a Medieval style called “bardcore”. This week, it’s sea shanties of several stripes and union work songs. They’re actually pretty similar in style, I think, but I’ll let you judge for yourself. Two of these three came to my feed by way of Boing Boing and they talk about the third, but I’d already discovered that in a list of old 78s on the Internet Archive Audio Archive .

So, first, I’ll share two TikToks that I found from Boing Boing’s post on sea shanties. The first is jax.in.the.box_, and she’s got a beautiful voice. I honestly don’t know anything about her except the music she shares on TikTok, which goes well beyond sea shanties, but is generally of a folk singing style that she really makes the most of. And, also, nathaneveanss, who also goes beyond the sea shanty style, but is also quite good. Both of these performers are really good and their acapella work is absolutely their best in my opinion. And, after listening to them both, I started to think that the secret was either an Irish or a Scottish accent.

Now, before you think these sea shanties are all just fun and games, Boing Boing has a cybersecurity sea shanty by Rachel Tobac. It’s good opsec advice about not reusing passwords and capitalizes on the popular TikTok trend to, hopefully, reach some folks.

The last links I’m going to share are to the Internet Archive. Lately, there’s been some good reason for the “little guys” to talk about economic disparity, not to mention the recent efforts of both Goole employees and Amazon employees to unionize, with mixed results depending on where it was happening. These songs mostly go back to the mid to late 40’s. My favorites are The Union Boys – Songs for Victory; music for political action, but you can find more old 78s with a “union theme” there, too.
But, if you need more, Spotify has some for you. There’s the Utah Phillips – One Big Union – We Have Fed You All a Thousand Years, Solidarity Now: Workers, Union and Protest Songs (which includes the Chemical Worker’s Song that jax.in.the.box_ linked above performs), and another, easier way to listen to The Union Boys – Songs for Victory; Music for Political Action.

For any future employers, I’m not advocating unionization necessarily, but the less we pay workers the more reason they have to complain about how oppressed they are. Extreme wealth disparity is something that should concern everyone because when it gets extreme enough, upheaval happens.

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

2/5/2021

Horror in the Backrooms

Filed under: Art,Fun,Uncategorized — 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

There’s something terrifying about musty, forgotten, anonymous backrooms.

As someone who’s done a little bit of urban exploration with my camera, I can tell you, there are few things more unsettling than a building full of empty, discarded rooms left to molder into decayed disuse. And, in another life, I’ve had some other reasons to know more than I’d care to about out-dated and disused space in semi-industrial settings. Old offices at the back of old buildings that smell like damp wallboard and receded floodwaters. I think if H.P. Lovecraft were alive and writing today, his nameless horrors would lurk in places like that. I’ve been thinking about it lately thanks to Mark Frauenfelder’s article in Magnet about “The Backrooms”, a 4Chan meme that’s been given deeper life thanks to procedural generation and people stuck at home. His article has videos, but more importantly, links to the deeper world of this horror space. The videos and games are … Well, they’re interesting and disturbing and something you sort of need to experience. I probably should have saved all this for Halloween, but, I didn’t think it would keep any longer.

Go and look for yourself. Yes, it’s unsettling, but it’s also a safe distraction from the more unsettling things happening in our world today.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

1/29/2021

Dining Table Photography

Filed under: Art,Fun,On Creativity,Photography,The Tools — 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

Improving your photography on the dining table.

What? Did you think I meant taking photos of your dining table? Well, I suppose that’s as valid a subject as any for photography, but what I’m actually sharing with you this week is something a bit different. A photographer, Brian Worley, posted this tutorial titled Creating and learning on the dining table back in March of last year. It’s an exploration of still-life photography, done on a tabletop, as a way of working on photography skills. It especially focuses on small flash skills, which I definitely need to work on regardless of how many of Syl Arena’s classes I’ve taken. He emphasizes a pretty tight setup, which should work for people in almost any living situation.
Before I read this, I did my own set up last year for this sort of thing. I’ve gotten two bases with two sides each; one black and one white, with a matte and shiny side each. I also got two miniature v-flats to control light better, which Mr. Worley does with simple poster board. Mine have black on one side and one panel each of white and silver, again to give me a little more flexibility with light and reflection. I did some experimenting with still life myself, both last year and earlier. You can see my brief experiments with my new-ish set up, as well as the older experiments, at my Still Life Flickr photo album.
It’s a great way to experiment with your camera and lighting in a small, contained space. And, for however long this pandemic lasts, it’s something we can do indoors, away from big crowds, while staying safe, to keep our photography skills sharp.

And, I have to admit, I got some more props around Christmas time for more still life work. I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but my intention is to add to that photo album and work on some fantasy book covers. Fantasy in the sense that the theme is swords and sorcery, but also fantasy in that these are books that haven’t been written.
We’ll see how it goes.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

 

1/22/2021

AI Poetry

Filed under: Fun,On Creativity,The Tools — 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

No, not poetry written FOR artificial intelligence.

Rather, poetry written BY artificial intelligence. Or at least extrapolated by artificial intelligence. The idea is simple enough; you choose three poets from the suggested list and feed the engine a first line, then, verse by verse, suggestions are made. You can change the shape of the poem, to some degree, and, of course, you can choose the next line which is all, as far as I can tell, culled from the poems of your selected inspirational writers. It’s an interesting experiment and, I have to admit, it makes poetry no worse than poetry I’d write myself without help. See for yourself. Here’s a sample of one I “wrote” with the help of the AI

Dream Sailor

I sail upon the wine-dark sea,
Set me on its golden sand;
Make me a race, and I shall be
The man for which I hold the hand.

Inspired by James Weldon Johnson, Robert Frost, and Edgar Allan Poe
COMPOSED IN VERSE BY VERSE

So, yeah, there you go. Click that link and try it for yourself! It’s free and may inspire you to do more.

This post first appeared on Use Your Words!

12/11/2020

New Age Nonsense

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,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 Crescent

Not that ALL new age thinking is goopy nonsense.

I’ve read a LOT of new age philosophy and pseudo-religious texts in my endless search for deeper meaning in life. I’ve read everything from the Kybalion to The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment and just about everything in between. A lot of the so-called new age movement is well-intentioned, but a lot of it is also fairly devoid of any real meaning. Enlightenment or epiphany or whatever you want to label spiritual experiences are generally something that, I think, need to be experienced and can’t really be taught. That doesn’t stop an endless array of self-styled gurus from trying to sell us some sure-fire program that will elevate our thinking to a new level of existence though. So, when I came across the New Age Bullshit Generator, you can imagine how amused I was! The thing is though, the new age bullshit it generates isn’t half bad. The author/programmer, Seb Pearce, suggests that you could use the output of his generator to gin up the next bestseller on the Self-Help shelf, but I think I might have to do too much of the legwork to fill in enough for a full book to make it really profitable. Either way, I hope you’ll find the New Age Bullshit Generator as much fun as I did.
Besides, what else are you going to do on this Friday in the middle of December?

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

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!

10/2/2020

Kinetic Sculptures

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

Just a quick share this week.

I know I keep hinting that I’ll review that hot shoe splitting flash cable I got the other day, but I’ve been so busy, I have hardly had the chance to use it. So, I do still intend to review it, eventually.
Until then, though, I thought I’d share a fun link. This comes via Boing Boing and is just under ten minutes long. It’s a short video of Ten Kinetic Sculptures by Anne Lilly. It’s not very long and the sculptures are fascinating to watch. If you’re like me, you’ll watch the video several times just to see the beauty of their movement. The artist is quite talented.
(And, yes, there are reasons I’ve been so busy, but I’m not quite ready to share them yet.)

Anyway, have a great week and hopefully, I’ll have more to share next week!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

9/25/2020

Can you Spot The Troll?

Filed under: Fun,Fun and Games,News and Current Events — 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

For the next two months, “Don’t feed the troll” should be our mantra.

According to the Urban Dictionary, a “troll” is “…[s]omeone who deliberately pisses people off online to get a reaction.” And, while that’s true, I feel like it’s not a complete description anymore. Since I’ve been on the internet, back in the “Before Time” of the early 90’s, trolls have been around, in one form or another, purposely irritating people for laughs. But, sometime in the last ten years or so, professional trolls with a political agenda, and often backed by a nation-state, have sprung up in attempts to sway elections and disrupt the democratic process. A lot of those trolls aren’t even people at all but are robots. They’re automated scripts that just constantly harass actual people who happen to trigger certain keywords. Being able to spot the trolls is a lot harder than most people realize.
So, in preparation for the upcoming election, I’m sharing a website called “Spot The Troll”. It’s s short quiz that shows you social media profiles and asks the simple question “Troll or Legit”? All you have to do is pick. And, then afterward, either way, there are a series of screens showing the “red flags” that should have tipped you off to the troll. Or, things that might have tricked you into thinking a legit human was actually a troll. I scored 7 out of 8. Not bad, I think, considering how sophisticated the trolls and their programmers have gotten.
Take the quiz and see how you do!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words! You can leave comments there.

9/18/2020

Lens Simulator

Filed under: Art,Fun,Photography — 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

Explore the relationship between focal length, aperture, and depth of field.

Along with some other settings and factors.
As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been getting back into photography a little bit. That means, for me, relearning a whole bunch of stuff, like how aperture and depth of field are related and how to control that. Well, thanks to a free “lens simulator” by Korean lens maker, Samyang, you can play with those settings, and more, to see how they’ll affect your photo. It’s pretty simple and straight forward for even a returning rookie photographer like me to make adjustments and see the changes. The one drawback, if you can call it that, is that the simulator uses Samyang lenses as the default settings. You can adjust it and simulate virtually any settings, but the pre-set ones are all based on their lenses. Which, really, shouldn’t be a surprise. Anyway, it’s fun and easy and, best of all, free.

I’d hoped to have a review of a hot-shoe-splitting flash cable I got this week, but, well, I haven’t had the time to actually use it yet, so it’s hard to give an actual review. Maybe for next week.

And, that’s all I’ve got this week, really. I’m feeling a little worn down and depressed, which I think is just the COVID-19 lockdown finally catching up to me. Well, and the mostly submerged grief over losing my father. For various reasons I don’t want to go into right now, I found myself really missing him last week. I had news that I’d have normally shared with him and asked his advice, but, well, he wasn’t there to ask. Of course, as my mother and another friend said, at this point, I can pretty well tell you what he’d have told me. Though, right up until the end, Dad could sometimes surprise me with something new.
Anyway, y’all have a good week and stay safe.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

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