Diary of a Network Geek

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

1/19/2018

Horribly Beautiful Nature

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

Nature is filled with creatures both terrible and beautiful.

I love macro photography. Getting close to small animals and insects and seeing them in a totally new way and on a scale we don’t normally perceive them is something I love to both do and see. And, while I have to admit my skills are meager and mostly focused on still photography, macro videography is even more amazing to me.
So, this week, I’m sharing some wonderful macro video with you by way of bioGraphic, which is a magnificent website filled with incredible video and stills of nature. But, this week, specifically, I’d like to share bioGraphic’s page of “Caterpillar Cameos” videos. It’s a whole page of short, but fantastic, videos of caterpillars that are both beautiful and kind of terrible. While some are brilliantly colored, or even furred, they also may be poisonous or mature into devastating crop parasites. And, let’s face it, something about those creepy, little caterpillar faces are both enthralling to watch and uncomfortable at the same time. At least for me.

Either way, it’s a beautiful thing to behold nature in all its diversity and glory in ways that you may not otherwise seek out.
Enjoy!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

9/15/2017

Productivity

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Marginalia and Notes from the Editor,The Day Job — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Not just doing more in less time.

Look, I’m going to admit something to you here. I’m lazy. Not only that, but I feel terrible about it.
Yes, that probably will come as a shock to most people who know me in real life, away from this strange digital construct we call blogging, but it’s true. I’m not just lazy and unmotivated, but I’m slow and super unproductive. I waste so much time I cannot even begin to conceive of a metaphor that encapsulates the enormity of my personal, moral failing. And, I promise you, I am not even kidding.
So, you know, happy Friday.

But, here’s the thing; I’m always looking for tools that might make me more productive and more efficient. And, some time back, I found a page of them by James Clear that he called The Productivity Guide: Time Management Strategies That Work. He defines productivity thusly; “Productivity is a measure of efficiency of a person completing a task. We often assume that productivity means getting more things done each day. Wrong. Productivity is getting important things done consistently. And no matter what you are working on, there are only a few things that are truly important. Being productive is about maintaining a steady, average speed on a few things, not maximum speed on everything.” And, the page gets better from there. For instance, he gives you seven relatively easy steps to take that will make you at least a little more productive right away. And, he links to some great articles, both his own and those written by others, that talk about increasing productivity and time management. He even references one of my favorites, Getting Things Done by David Allen. It’s worth a look.

So, big confession aside, I hope that Mr. Clear’s page of links and advice can help you overcome your time management and productivity hurdles.
See you next week!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words, my other blog, where I hope you’ll leave your comments and experiences about productivity and time management.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Whether you call it Buddhism or another religion, self-discipline, that's important. Self-discipline with awareness of consequences."
   --Dalai Lama

2/24/2012

As easy as 123!

Filed under: Art,Fun,Fun Work — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:19 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Well, maybe a little more difficult than that…

My “day job” is being the IT department for a specialized engineering, design and manufacturing business.  In a very simplified nutshell, we design and build huge cranes, primarily for off-shore work in the petroleum industry, but not limited to that.  As such, we are heavily invested in AutoCAD.  And, by that I mean, we couldn’t really function without Autodesk products any more.  So, I try to stay in touch with what’s going on in their world.  That personal imperative led me to contact with Autodesk 123D.

This is actually free software, reviewed at the link above, that will let you design and prototype relatively simple 3d objects.  It can import things from AutoCAD, though, if you’ve got a lot of AutoCAD files, like we do.  What’s more interesting, however, is that this software has links to Autodesk’s 3D printing services.  So, if you don’t have a 3D “printer” of your own, you can get an estimate from Autodesk on producing a 3D prototype right from their software!  How cool is that?!  You can essentially do a 3D “print preview” and they’ll give you a quote on actually producing whatever 3D object you just created on their free software.  And, it seems to be relatively reasonable, too!
What’s even more interesting, I think, is that there’s an add-on which allegedly takes a series of high-resolution photographs you provide it of an object and then creates the 3D model for you!  Now, I haven’t tried this out yet, but I can think of a number of small statues around my house that I would love to have recreated in ABS plastic.  Oh, right, that’s pretty much the only material available through their service; various forms of ABS plastic.  Essentially, the only options are color; white, ivory or black.  Or, if you want to use their more expensive “high-resolution” service, a single color option; a kind of funny greenish color.  Still these can all be painted like any other plastic model, so there is that.

In any case, I can think of any number of uses for a service like this.  Low-end architecture models, for one.  Game pieces.  Custom replacement parts for various bits and pieces of electronic equipment.  Really, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination, budget and the strength of the ABS plastic!
But, the software itself is free, so why not go download it and try it out?  If you do, please, leave your experiences with how well it works in the comments.

10/27/2011

The Half-Life of IT Skills

Filed under: Career Archive,Certification,Geek Work — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:44 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

There is one, apparently.

So, it seems someone has figured out the answer to an old question which has often plagued IT professionals: How long are your skills good?  According to Eric Bloom, over at IT World, longer than you think.  He claims that the tech skills you have now will be half as marketable in two years.  If you read Slashdot, you’ve seen this article and the comments that followed.  Here are my thoughts, though.

First, I think it depends on the skills involved.
For example, if you’re working on Windows Server, your skills will probably translate fairly well and that two-year half-life is about right.  For Unix, maybe a bit longer than that.  For Novell, well, sadly, I’m not sure who actually uses that old warhorse any more, as much as it makes me sad to write it.  For other, less vendor oriented skills, I think two-years may be a bit short-sighted.  Take routers, for instance.  Now basic routing hasn’t really changed in quite a long time.  Even Cisco routers, the creme-de-la-creme of enterprise routers, haven’t really changed that much on the inside in the last 15 years.  I was in one the other day and I have to admit I was shocked at how quickly the skills came back to me after quite literally years of disuse.  Far more than two years, I might add.
Also, skills that are a little harder to quantify certainly stay “fresh” longer than those hypothetical two years.  Things like troubleshooting and the so-called soft skills involved with user support are something that I think are deeply engrained in someone.  They’re part of a work ethic.  So the customer service skills I learned more than 20 years ago when I worked for Hyatt Hotels are certainly still more than “good”.

Secondly, Mr. Bloom is talking about marketability, not actual utility.
So, the fact that, for instance, I don’t have a Cisco certification, even though I’m clearly capable of configuring a Cisco router, means that quite probably was never what he would have considered a “marketable skill”.  In fact, based on what many recruiters may have felt about the marketability of my skills, I should be farming beets right now, not working as the Lead Tech/IT Manager of a fairly prosperous design and manufacturing company.  Instead, of course, all through my career, I’ve managed to talk my way through the door and then show the people in charge that versatility and adaptability, not to mention mad Google-query-crafting skills, are far more important than any specific past experience or certification.

So, what about you, gentle readers?  What do you think?  How long are tech skills “good”?  And does working on legacy systems harm your future employability?


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