Diary of a Network Geek

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

11/16/2018

Pack Better

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 Gibbous

Learn packing secrets from the ultimate world travelers; the military.

I used to travel quite a bit for work, back before 9/11. In fact, I had just gotten back from a work trip a couple of days before it happened and, if not for that event, I might have lost my job that week. As it was, things got dragged out for another month, and then I had a series of jobs that didn’t really need me to travel as much. These days, I don’t bother trying to squeeze everything into a single, carry-on bag. It’s too much hassle for too little pay off. Besides, getting through security is time consuming enough without adding to it by dealing with things like electric razors.
Still, I did learn quite a bit from packing from those years. Things like putting the heavy items, like shoes, near the bottom. Or folding shirts as flat as possible so they could stack up more neatly and compactly. Or my favorite, putting toiletries like shampoo and toothpaste in separate, small Ziploc bags, which go into other, larger bags, to make sure nothing gets squished out onto clothes. I learned most of these tricks from my father, of course, who was quite the “road warrior” in his day. But, it turns out, he may well have learned some of those tricks from his time in the military. Don’t believe me? Well, check out Military Packing Secrets That Will Make You a Better Traveler on Thrillist. They have several tips that seem like common sense, but, really, they only are after you’ve done them once or twice.
In any case, this may not be “fun” exactly, but it did seem like something useful for my readers who might be packing for holiday travel soon.
Feel free to leave your tips in the comments! And come back next week for some more advice that may be handy this holiday season!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

8/31/2018

WiFi Analyzer

Filed under: Better Living Through Technology,Fun,Geek Work,GUI Center,MicroSoft,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:05 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Now, available for Windows!

I’ve actually been using this particular program on an Android tablet for quite a long time. Come to think of it, I started out using it on a rooted Barnes and Noble nook tablet close to ten years ago, then when I upgraded, just kept using it. Often, I’d pull out my tablet, especially when on the road, to find the strongest local wifi signal to see if I could join that network. When I was in San Francisco for WonderCon in 2010, I used it to discover that the fastest wireless internet connection I could find was the yoga studio next door to the little, boutique hotel I was staying in. I also used it to tell the hotel staff what to change their wifi channel to for better performance.
More recently, I used it in my own neighborhood to tune my home wifi to the best channel so we got a stronger signal and weren’t sharing the same frequency with all the neighbors. Sure, it may be a small improvement, but I think it’s significant enough to make a few minutes spent with a free app worthwhile.
In any case, I saw recently on Lifehacker, that there’s a free Windows version of WiFi Analyzer available now. You just need to follow the links and download it. I linked to the Lifehacker article, instead of directly, because they go a great job showing you why it’s a good thing to have and use. Also, I’m too lazy to write all that out again. So, go hit their site, give them advertising revenue, and enjoy!

8/17/2018

How Chocolate Is Made

Filed under: Fun,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:11 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

From bean to your mouth, how delicious chocolate is made.

I grew up in the city, but I had relatives who farmed, so I’m not one of those people who thought that food magically showed up in the grocery store. I was pretty aware, for instance, that steaks used to walk around in a pasture before they got carved up into bite-sized chunks. And, yes, I was always okay with that. But, also from that experience with my family’s farm, I learned to be curious about just what goes into food and food production. Frankly, what we do and have available to us in our amazing, modern, global economy is nothing short of miraculous. I’m old enough that I remember oranges being extra expensive and a great treat at Christmas, for instance. So what does all that have to do with chocolate? Well, until recently, I only had the vaguest idea how chocolate bars were made. I knew it started with a bean somewhere in the tropics and involved a process like roasting until the beans could be ground up into what is essentially cocoa powder.  And, that cocoa powder becomes chocolate. But, beyond that, the process was a bit of a mystery to me. And, I’d imagine, to you, too, gentle readers.

Well, thanks to a podcast from Seth Godin, titled It’s Not About The Chocolate, we don’t have to wonder any more. That link will take you to, among other things, two videos showing the process of taking cacao beans from the tree to an actual chocolate bar for your delicious consumption. And, yes, global warming is, in fact, putting my favorite sweet in danger. No matter how you feel about all that, the videos are fascinating and deliciously educational. Though, I do absolutely recommend that you listen to the full podcast. It’s even more educational than the videos.

And, there’s your entertaining video for Friday, with a steaming side of social consciousness.
Enjoy!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

9/29/2017

Cold Fish

Filed under: By Bread Alone,Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 1:00 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Sushi. That’s what my ex-wife used to call me. “Cold Fish.”

That’s a quote from Blade Runner, my favorite movie, possibly of all time, and it’s about one of my favorite foods; sushi, the most science-fictional food of all when Blade Runner came out. Next week Friday, the new one, Blade Runner 2049, is coming out. But, I’m sharing this today not because of the new release, but rather because yesterday was my fourth anniversary. And, not to my ex-wife, but my new wife. And, not because my blushing bride calls me “cold fish”, but because I proposed to her in a sushi restaurant.

And, what am I sharing?
The Mental Floss Visual Guide to Eating Sushi! They specifically reference “eating sushi in Japan”, but the rules are about the same here in the States, too. Or anywhere, really. Sushi, as it turns out, is sushi. My first sushi experience was in suburban Mississippi, which seemed a very brave thing to eat, considering the location, but sushi, and Japanese culture always seemed so perfectly alien and futuristic to me. I think for a Westerner, it’s the closest we can come to experiencing an alien civilization. Also, sushi was a featured food in all the most futuristic anime I watched as a young adult that it just came to represent the ultimate in exotic experiences.
Anyway, if you have been wanting to try it but a little intimidated by the idea, this guide should help ease your fears.
And, if you’re in Houston, check out Sushi Choo Choo, which is a sushi bar that features a brilliant conveyor belt that’s a very popular feature in Japan.

And come back next week when I babble about something else that may, or may not, relate to Blade Runner!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

2/3/2017

Pretty Pictures

Filed under: Art,Fun,Photography — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

So, I’m not quite done with the photography links.

Seriously, though, I’m working on some other things to share. I promise. Still, I have this one last thing from last month to share with you.
We all like to look at beautiful things, right? And free things are great, too, aren’t they? What about free things that are beautiful to look at? Yeah, pretty much the sweet-spot of ways to waste time on a Friday. So, that’s what I’ve got for you. Free photography that’s pretty much gorgeous. And, I really mean free. You can do whatever with these photos without worrying about violating some poor photographer’s copyright and stealing money from their family. Trust me, it’s cool.
The site is Unsplash. And, it’s just what I said. Beautiful photography, for free.

Go look.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

1/20/2017

Building a Great Minimalist Studio

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 a Third Quarter Moon

Another resource for photographers.

I think one of the reasons I initially was interested in photography was because I was shy, but wanted to meet people. I figured that a photographer would meet beautiful people, which seemed like a great idea in my teens and twenties.  Actually, it’s still not a bad idea, except I’m a little less invested in meeting new beautiful people now that I’m married.  Now, I’m strictly interested in the photography.  But, like a lot of amateur photographers, I don’t really have the time, space or money to justify having a big, fancy, dedicated photography studio in my home. I’ve mostly made do with some seamless paper in my garage, which, to be fair, has pretty much worked okay. It worked well enough, in fact, to take not only my LinkedIn profile shot, but also get paid for taking someone else’s LinkedIn headshot.  So, you know, it works well enough.  But, what if you want to go a little farther than that?  What if you want to do more than just the occasional headshot?  Well, my favorite commercial photographer and author of Studio Anywhere, Nick Fancher, has written an article for PetaPixel about just this subject titled You Don’t Need to Spend a Fortune to Have a Great Photo Studio.
It’s a great article and shows you some really creative options for a small, but very versatile studio you can use to make some really inspiring photos.
To his article, I’ll only add that you can get really creative with cheap LED lights and shop lights, not to mention rechargeable light bars and automotive lights.  I recently shot some still life photography in my kitchen using a glass shelf and some cheap LED flashlights and was very pleased with the effect.
So, go read his article and see what Nick has to say about textures and space and see if you can’t apply that to your own situation and find some available space for a studio, even if it’s temporary.

But, above all, keep shooting!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

9/9/2016

Sandwich Book

Filed under: Fun,Red Herrings — 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 a First Quarter Moon

Hmm, who doesn’t love sammiches?

Seriously, sandwiches are the best.
I particularly like peanut butter sandwiches, though my wife thinks the things I combine with peanut butter are mildly insane.  Frankly, I think if she would just try the peanut butter and sweet relish sandwich, she’d see just how sweet and savory combine to make something totally delicious!  Though, I completely understand her aversion to my much more experimental peanut butter with bleu cheese slices on pumpernickel.  It’s pretty fantastic, but not for the faint of heart or the peanut butter sandwich neophyte.  It’s pretty advanced sandwichery.
On the other hand, it’s not like I’m the first guy to make some wild combinations of flavors in a sandwich.  It’s been a pretty radical idea from the very start, but I think we’ve lost some of the art of sandwiching with our modern conventions surrounding food.  So, this week, I’m sharing a link to a public domain book from 1909 on the art of the sandwich; The Up-To-Date Sandwich Book: 400 Ways to Make a Sandwich.  It’s brought to you via the Public Domain Review and, while you can read it online, you can download the complete PDF for your own sandwich experiments.  There are some great ones in there.  I can’t say that the “Texas Sandwich” sounds all that traditionally Texas to me, or like something I’m eager to try, but the “Tip-Top Sandwich” just a few pages later sounds like a delicious culinary adventure.  And, “Peanut Sandwich No. 4” sounds quite interesting, if not exactly a part of any diet I’ve ever heard of.

How about you?  Have a favorite?  Or is there one from the book that sounds like something you’d try?
The weekend is about to start and the comments are open!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

6/24/2016

Submarine Google View

Filed under: Fun,Marginalia and Notes from the Editor,Personal,Photography — 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

Those who know me best, know my obsession with submarines.

I have loved submarines, especially the World War II era subs, since I was a kid growing up in Chicago and going to the Museum of Science and Industry.  There I would always want to make sure and tour the famous U505; a German U-Boat that was captured intact and towed through the Great Lakes to her final resting place in Chicago.  I’ve probably been through the U-505 more than a dozen times.  It’s incredible.
If I’m ever in a city where I can tour a submarine, I do my best to make it a priority.  For instance, the last time I was in San Francisco, I made sure to see the USS Pampanito, a retired U.S.N. submarine.  Similar in many ways to the German boats, but not quite as cramped.
I’ve read a number of books about World War II submarines, as well as modern subs, from both the Allies and the Axis.  I’ve never been aboard a Japanese submarine or a British submarine, but, now, thanks to the magic power of Google, we can take a virtual tour of one.  The HMS Ocelot has been pretty completely mapped by Google and you can get a really good look at what she was like.  Nothing replaces actually being in one, but this is about the next best thing.

Besides, it’s Friday and you’re probably avoiding work like most everyone else is, so why not have some educational fun and do a virtual tour of a piece of history!?
Enjoy and have a great weekend!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.

10/16/2015

Upgrade Your Instant Noodles

Filed under: By Bread Alone,Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I love ramen noodles, much to my blushing bride’s chagrin.

I never understood what the stigma around eating instant ramen was all about.  I love instant ramen!  I’ve tried lots of different varieties, but mostly for flavor ideas.  Maybe it’s the cheapskate in me, but I love the cheapest instant ramen we can get at our local grocery store; Maruchan Instant Lunch.  They’re a mere 29 cents each most of the time and often go on sale at 10 for a…
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11/25/2011

Leftovers

Filed under: By Bread Alone,Fun — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:48 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

I love leftovers.

I typically have a small group at my house for Thanksgiving and yet still cook an enormous amount of food.  I’ll generally munch those leftovers through Christmas.  People tell me that it’s probably not good for me and that I’ll get food poisoning or whatever.  So, you know, I started to wonder; how long are leftovers good?

Well, if you’ve wondered that very thing along with me, wonder no more.
Instead, go to this article at StillTasty.com about how to store your Thanksgiving leftovers.  (Hopefully, you haven’t made an terrible errors already and refrigerated anything you weren’t sure about.)
So, now you know how long you can enjoy that leftover pumpkin pie for breakfast!
Also, I hope all my readers had a fantastic Thanksgiving!


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