Diary of a Network Geek

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

11/30/2018

Passenger Rights

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

You have rights as an air traveler.

During the holidays, a lot of people travel. I avoid it as much as possible, mainly because I used to travel a lot and get pretty irritated with air travel these days. For one thing, since 9/11, security measures have gotten pretty onerous, which is too bad because most of them don’t really do anything to address actual safety. But, before I go off on a rant about my favorite subject (ie. Security theater), let me say that the worst thing about flying these days is the flying and the airline companies themselves. I know it’s a business and that we should be thrilled to get so far as quickly as we do, but they really play fast and loose with things like passenger comfort, over-booking and taking little to no responsibility when things go wrong.
Good news, though, you do, in fact have rights! Did you know that you may be entitled to compensation for delayed flights or missed connections? It’s true! You can read more about your air passenger rights, and get help if you feel like you’re due something from the airlines who lost or damaged your luggage or forcibly booted you off your flight due to over booking, at AirHelp. I have to admit, as of this writing, I haven’t used them, so I can’t speak to their actual effectiveness, and I don’t get anything from them to link to their site, but just having your actual rights laid out may be of significant enough benefit that I felt it was worth sharing.  Oh, also, their fee for helping you is 25% of whatever you’re due, but I still think it’s worth it, as otherwise travelers would just be out the whole amount.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

11/23/2018

How to Help a Loved One

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Personal Care — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:10 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Especially, if they’re depressed or suffering from other mental illness.

The holidays can be an especially rough time of year. I know for many years, I would get a kind of seasonal depression that would come over me after Halloween and last until at least Christmas, and often until after St. Valentine’s Day. In my case, it was due to not being in a relationship, mostly, and having an unrealistic expectation about how my life should look. But, frankly, even for people who are otherwise happy, the holidays can be rough. I mean, they call it the “holiday blues” for a reason, right? So, what do you do if someone you know and love is suffering from season depression? Well, sometimes, listening is enough. Just being there and hearing them, without necessarily trying to fix it can actually be a big benefit. Also, if it seems like your loved one is having more than very short-term depression, it’s perfectly okay to suggest they need more help than you can provide. Unless you’re actually a mental health professional, you may not be all that qualified to actually help someone who’s seriously depressed. One of my favorite science-based websites, Quick and Dirty Tips has some suggestions for How to Help a Loved One Suffering from Mental Illness. It’s really good and, yes, someone with depression is, in fact, suffering from mental illness. It’s possible that it’s seasonal and may pass, but, you know your loved one, and if it looks like something more than that, the linked podcast is worth a listen.

Also, if it seems like your loved one is more than a little depressed and may be suicidal, talk to them about it. And, no, talking to someone about whether or not they’re contemplating suicide will not make them more suicidal. That’s a myth, and a deadly one at that. (For more discussion about some of the more dangerous myths about suicide, again, take a look at this article on Quick and Dirty Tips.) And, if you think they already have a plan, encourage them to call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. You could actually be saving their life.

Hopefully, that’s not something you’re struggling with this holiday season, but if it is, please, get help. The holidays can be really rough and depression is nothing to try and ignore.

This post first appeared on Use Your Words!

10/5/2018

Woven Photos

Filed under: Art,Fun — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:39 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

More interesting art for your enjoyment.

Last week, I shared some Andy Warhol-inspired videos that would help you create in a similar style. I love those kinds of tutorials. But, I also love just sharing interesting work. I’m also an amateur photographer, which you can see via my Photo Gallery page, though I’m far from what I’d consider an artist. My photos have been used by a close friend of mine, though, who is an artist when he put together a book of his work. And, I know I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the odd things about our current age of digital photography is that thousands more photographs are being taken every day than ever before, but fewer are being seen. Even fewer are being printed. One of the things that convinced me to marry my wife was that she printed one of my photos and framed it for me. It’s the first of my photos I’ve ever printed, and may be the only one to date, actually.
All of which is to say that I really admire artists who take their photographic work and not only print it, but manipulate it into something more. And, obviously, that’s what I’m sharing with you this week. Head over to Boing Boing, via this link, and see Photographer shreds her work then weaves it back together again, so see Lala Abaddon talk about her work, shredding her photographs so that she can then weave them back together in unique and beautiful abstract works. Or, you can skip the woo-woo artist talky bits and just look at her work, which is also shown on the same page. And, there are links to where she is on the web, so you can see more of her work. Philosophy of art and her relationship to the universe aside, the work is quite compelling.
Besides, it’s a Friday and you weren’t planning on working so much you couldn’t take the time to follow the links, so go for it!

9/21/2018

Explore the Universe From Your Desktop

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 Waxing Gibbous

Fly around the universe, virtually, from your Windows desktop.

Yes, sadly, this is for Windows users only. I try to make these posts as universally appealing as possible, but, sometimes, what I’m offering up is specific to an operating system and just too good to pass up. This is one of those.
Now, of course, I’m a big science-fiction geek and I love the fantasy of zooming through space to other planets and star systems. I suppose it has something to do with growing up watching Star Trek or seeing the original Star Wars (ie. Episode IV) in the theater as a little kid. Whatever the reason, I’ve never gotten past the idea that I’d like to leave Earth and discover the wonders of the universe like the captain of my very own interstellar craft. Sadly, the laws of physics are working against me on realizing that dream. So, until then, I’ll have to just explore the universe with my imagination. Thankfully, according to Lifehacker, there’s a desktop program called SpaceEngine that will help me do just that. If you head over to SpaceEngine.org, you can download the app for free. It’s huge, so it will take some time, but it’s worth it. You may get some warnings from your antivirus when you try to download it, but I found that the fifth “mirror”, which was a Google drive space, seemed to be okay. Once you have it installed, you can soar off to distant stars and planets and let the wonders of our universe wash over you. Frankly, it seems like the perfect escape for a Friday afternoon, especially if you’re reading this blog instead of working.
You’ll want to make sure to read the manual and be patient with the program, though, it is still in beta, after all.
So, check it out and come see what I have for you next week!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

6/1/2018

DIY Abstract Backgrounds

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 Waning Gibbous

I love free web gadgets.

Also, I have all kinds of devices that can have background images. Everything from iPhones to computers can, though are not required to, show a background image of some kind. Yes, they all ship with a varying number of default background images. And, of course, I’ve featured many places to get more, and cooler, background images here before. But, this week, I’ve got something a little different. Today, my Friday Fun link for you is Cool Backgrounds by Moe Amaya, where he brings together five different tools for creating, or finding, cool background images.
I’ll take them in reverse order. First, he links to Unsplash, which hosts totally free photos for your projects, all of which are pretty awesome. He also has “Gradient Topograhy”, which creates semi-custom color-field patters that are very much like stylized topographical maps. He’s also hosting, and linking to, CSS Gradient, which gently blends two colors into a single, beautiful image, along with the required code to make it happen. Then he’s got the much more animated, and complicated, Particles, that creates a moving, changing display of points, connecting lines and color, also with the code to make it all happen. And, finally, the increasingly familiar geometric shapes and colors of Trianglify. And, the last three, which are the first three on the site, also have the links to the original sites, so you can get even more options and variations to customize to your heart’s content.

It’s a short week, and we all know less gets done in short weeks, so you might as well go over and check it out. Surely one of these will have something you can, or want, to use in an upcoming project.
Enjoy!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

5/18/2018

Lost Voice Comedian

Filed under: Fun — 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 Waxing Crescent

Even without being able to speak, his comedic timing is perfect.

Seriously, this comedian is completely hilarious and all his humor is very personal. The video is great, and short, so a quick watch for a break on Friday. It’s from the Britain’s Got Talent show and brought to us via Boing Boing; the Lost Voice Guy. He tried out for the show and, in spite of not being able to speak without a machine, managed to be very funny. And, yes, a lot of his humor is based around his disabilities. He’s still very funny. You can see more at his website, Lost Voice Guy.

Again, he’s good for a laugh, and he’s got a great attitude along with his humor. He’s well worth a few minutes of your Friday, and you’ll feel a bit better afterwards, I think.
Enjoy!

This was originally posted on Use Your Words.

5/4/2018

Getting to Know You

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,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 Waning Gibbous

Or at least, getting to know someone.

I am the world’s worst at “small talk”. And, for pity’s sake, do NOT ask me what I’m thinking. Do that and you’re likely to get back some pseudo-intellectual gobbledygook about patterns of language and how we mimic our significant other. No, seriously, I actually found myself thinking about that when I watched a friend completely change his speech patterns after getting married. And, I’ve noticed the same thing with my own speech patterns.
See? It doesn’t take much for me to get off on a tangent. Also, I think of myself as painfully shy, though I know my friends don’t perceive me that way. Meeting people and getting to know them is extremely difficult for me. Though, oddly, I’m now on my second marriage, so I managed to get to know at least two people well enough to marry them. I only got to know one well enough to stay married, though, for whatever that’s worth.
In any case, I know I’m not the only person who has these issues. I know because I read things on the internet. Things like this article at FashionBeans titled “99 Get To Know You Questions, From First Date To Happily Ever After”. The article briefly talks about the pressure of conversation while dating, but then offers a solution; 99 questions to start conversations with a date or partner.
Frankly, that seems like the perfect topic just before a weekend. And, hey, no need to restrict some of these questions to just someone you’re dating or planning to marry! Take a look and see if you feel brave enough to ask your friends what their biggest fear is or what they’re most grateful for in life or one of the many other questions they suggest.

And, in any case, have a great weekend!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.

4/27/2018

Interactive Self-Care

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,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 Waxing Gibbous

Or, my best advice has been reduced to a small web page.

Seriously, I cannot tell you how many of my friends have come to me with major issues that tend to include things like panic attacks, crippling self-doubt and related side-effects. It’s possible that’s the result of them knowing I’ve been through most of that myself, not to mention surviving cancer when I was single and thousands of miles from family. Really, that kind of thing can harden up your survival skills. Trust me on this one.
My blushing bride tells me that it’s because I’m somehow reassuring. Even strangers seem to think I exude some kind of gentle trustworthiness that makes it okay to tell me all kinds of things.
Regardless of why, I’ve talked more than my share of people out of tough emotional spots before. Off the metaphorical ledge, if you’ll allow me the melodramatic metaphor. My advice, though, is usually really simple; eat something good, drink some water, take a nap.
Well, now, when you can’t find your Uncle Jim to help you through a rough time, you can try You Feel Like Shit, an interactive website that can help you through dark times. You just answer a series of questions and the site helps you make some good, healthy self-care choices that, hopefully, will help you through whatever is going on. The creator, Amanda Miklik, would like to remind you that this really good site doesn’t replace the help of a mental health professional, and neither do I, so we’re on the same footing. And the site may actually be a little more helpful than I am.

Anyway, it’s not exactly a Friday “Fun” link, but it’ll do this week. So, enjoy your weekend, drink some water, eat something healthy and delicious and take a nap.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

3/2/2018

Universal Paperclips

Filed under: Art,Fun — 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 Full Moon

An existentialist game about artificial intelligence and, yes, paperclips.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine who read my post about the web-based game, Seedship told me about this fascinating and strangely compelling game, Universal Paperclips. If you follow that link, click on the box in the center to start. There’s no on-site help. There’s no explanation. Just a simple web interface that, if anything, suggests you may want to click a button labeled “Make a paperclip”. That’s it. That’s all.
But, if you are bold enough to start clicking, you’ll quickly find yourself drawn into the strangest game I think I’ve ever played. Initially, you’ll invest a few minutes, to get things rolling, but at a certain point, you’ll find that everything seems to roll along by itself with only a little intervention on your part periodically.

I don’t want to give away anything but I did let my simulation run for more than a week while only playing a few minutes a day. Though, it’s hard to tell, because it did get strangely consuming. I assume that if I let the simulation keep running, it would eventually end only with the heat-death of the simulated universe of the game.
And, if you decide to play, and get stuck, there is a Universal Paperclips WIKI, to help you. I admit, near the end of my time playing, I used it to confirm a few things.
If you have some time, and some patience, try this game. You won’t be disappointed!

 

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

2/2/2018

Work – Fatherland – Order

Filed under: About The Author,Fun,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

My own political leanings often surprise me.

I should start by saying that I don’t think of myself as a particularly political person in any sense of the word. Sure, I have some very strong opinions about some things, but I mostly keep that kind of thing to myself because I hate the idea of becoming a bore. And, I think I’m a terrifically boring person, though my wife and friends assure me that is not the case. In fact, recently when I pumped out a bunch of messages about the net neutrality changes and the fight in the House and Senate to repeal that very, very bad FCC decision, at least one friend was so surprised he had to ask me about it. Which gave me the opportunity to educate him. It was nice.
But, what the title of this post refers to is the results of the quiz I took at PolitiScales. The quiz is meant to measure where you fall on 8 axes, including the one we think of most; Progressive vs. Conservative. I was surprised to find out that I was only 31% Conservative, but 57% Progressive. More stunning to me was that I rated 57% Regulationist vs. 17% “Laissez-faire” and 52% Nationalist vs. 31% Internationalist. The other axes include; Constructivist vs. Essentialist, Communism vs. Capitalism, Ecology vs. Productivist, Revolutionist vs. Reformist and Rehabilitative Justice vs. Punitive Justice. Again, it was a little eye-opening to me as I’d always thought of myself as both more conservative and global than they measured me as being. Of course, this is just one relatively short quiz and my thoughts on all this are more complicated than they can easily measure with a multiple choice questionnaire. Still, I encourage you all to take the quiz and see how you feel about it. And, maybe, give a little thought to your political life before the mid-term elections later this year.

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.

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