Diary of a Network Geek

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


Geek’s Guide to New York

Filed under: Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,On The Road,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:45 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

I seem to be fixated on New York this month!

There are a lot of geeky landmarks in New York City.  From movies like Ghostbusters to comic books like the Fantastic Four to movies about comic books, there are a lot of references made to the Big Apple.  If you’re a geek and plan on being a tourist in New York, wouldn’t you like to hit these hot spots and revisit your favorite geek moments?  Or just take a photo of yourself where your favorite geek event, movie, etc. actually happened or was filmed?
Now, with the aid of the Ultimate Nerd Guide to New York City, you can.  (Though, personally, I prefer the term “geek” to “nerd” for a number of reasons, at least one of which should be obvious!)  Brought to you via Slashfilm, the Ultimate Nerd Guide to New York City has a map, showing you just where all those cool or famous or geeky things are to be found, including, yes, the building used for the Ghostbuster’s HQ as well as the building used for the Fantastic Four’s HQ, and many others.

I’ve never really done any “geek tourism”, but, after seeing this, I may start!
Anyway, it’s Friday and you’re not doing any work anyway, so you might as well check it out and plan your next vacation!
Have a great weekend!


Secret Dining

Filed under: Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:01 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

No, this isn’t a post about eating disorders!

Rather, it’s a post about secret places to eat in New York City!
I have to admit, I’ve always been fascinated by people lining up to get into places so secret that they have no name or no sign over the door.   Maybe it’s having grown up in Chicago with a grandmother who was actually around when speakeasies were up and running that’s made this so interesting to me.  Maybe it was just being a geeky kid who was always on the outside.  Maybe, it was the idea that my great-grandfather was friends with Bath-house John Kenzie and Hinky Dink Kenna, two of Chicago’s most notorious aldermen and crooks, who ran a “pool hall” with a secret room.  In any case, places like that fascinate me and the idea that they might exist in New York RIGHT NOW is almost irresistible to me!

So, tell me, New York readers, have you ever tried one of these “Secret Eateries” in New York City?
Inquiring minds want to know!


A Tattoo Old Enough To Drink

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:38 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

My first tattoo is officially old enough to drink today.

I got my first tattoo on my twenty-first birthday, twenty-one years ago, today.  It was Finals Week and I had a final exam the next morning, so I couldn’t do the traditional round of drinking myself unconscious.  Besides, that really wasn’t my style even then.  So, instead, I marked the day my own way.  I’d wanted a tattoo for a long time, longer, in fact, than I could remember.  And, somehow, I’d gotten it in my head that having a tattoo would make me tough, or at least, make me seem tougher.  I’m not sure that it did, especially considering that I hid it from my family for another six months.  Not very manly behavior, is it, being too scared to show off my big, tough, tattoo?

But, that’s who I was, twenty-one years ago.
I was a kid who was getting close to graduation, but didn’t know who he was.  That feeling of not being enough, not knowing enough, not having enough direction, would send me rushing headlong through life at break-neck speed, never slowing down enough to appreciate what I was seeing, or hearing or doing.  It led me to do many things that, in retrospect, I’m not particularly proud of having done.  Choices I would sometimes rahter I had not made.  I don’t regret the tattoo, though, only the original motivation that led me to get it.
I’m not really that man today.

Twenty-one years is a lifetime.
Time enough to change.  Since getting that tattoo, I’ve cheated death, more than once, and I don’t just mean the cancer three years ago.  I’ve faced a number of reversals of fortune, both in my favor and not.  But, I think, more importantly, is that I’ve learned I’m not my circumstances.  Who I am and how I am are both defined by the choices I make.
Today, though, I make much better choices than I did twenty-one years ago.  Not always, but, mostly.

And, of course, my birthday wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention all the other famous people who had the good luck to be born on this particular day. Famous people like Frank “Chairman of the Board” Sinatra, Jennifer Connelly, Bob Barker, Gustave Flaubert, author of Madame Bovary, Edvard Munch, and Wells Fargo founder, Henry Wells. Not to mention, Mike Pinder of the Moody Blues, Tim Hauser of Manhattan Transfer, Dickey Betts of the Allman Bros, jazz musician Grover Washington Jr, and former mayor of New York City, Ed Koch.
All heady company to be sure, but for whatever reason, it tickles me the most that I share a birthday with Frank Sinatra. I guess it’s because he was such a unique and original character who really fought against and beat some long odds to become an amazingly famous, generally well thought of character. I can only hope to do the same, one day.

So, I don’t know what the coming year will bring, but I know I’ll be in a different place than I am today.
Which is, of course, what I said last year!  But, this year, right now, it feels like things are changing and about to change far more than I thought possible last year.  I don’t know where the coming year will take me, but I’m sure it will be to places, inside and out, that I never would have suspected possible a year ago.
And, for that, I’m very thankful!

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently."
   --Henry Ford


The Superhero Store

Filed under: Art,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:29 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

In Brooklyn?

So, I can’t believe I haven’t written about this before, but there’s a store in Brooklyn that sells superhero stuff.  Like a gallon of gravity.  And capes.  And invisibility by the jug.  Yeah, the Brooklyn Superhero Store is like Acme, but for the superhero world.  And it’s real!

Okay, it’s mostly real.  You get something for your money, but it’s not super powers.  What you get is to support a not-for-profit organization that helps kids in New York get into creative writing.  The store is how they fund it.  You can read more at the FAQ.  And, you can read more about the program they support at 826NYC.com

(And, yes, I know I owe you all a bunch of updates and pictures about my trip to WonderCon this past week, but I’ve been sick, so just give me a little time, okay?)


Hedge Fund Buys Novell

Filed under: Career Archive,MicroSoft,News and Current Events,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 9:54 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Wow, maybe Novell isn’t quite dead yet after all!

According to this story at Computer World, the New York-based Elliot Associates, LP, a hedge fund that is already Novell’s largest stock-holder, has made a public bid for the company.  They claim to have extensive experience and good fortune turning around tech companies, and they see the potential in the once great Novell.

I’m not holding my breath, but I hope it works.
It’d be nice to see a company like Novell get turned around.  Their products consistently win awards, but their marketing never seems to get them where they need to be.  Novell basically started the local area network market, but now they’re very much the “also ran” in that category, coming in far, far behind Microsoft.
Again, I’m not holding my breath here, but I hope they can do it.


Goals Not Resoultions

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Life Goals,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is late at night or 11:20 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I’m not much for making impossible to keep, blue-sky new year’s resolutions.

I do set goals, though.
Okay, so, sometimes I set pretty unreasonable goals, too, but still, in my mind, goals are something that’s achievable and that I can work toward.  New Year’s Resolutions, on the other hand, are something that drunk people vow with all their alcohol soaked might that they will absolutely do in the new year.  Of course, those never last beyond January if the drunken reveler even remembers them the next morning.  One of my goals is to lose weight and get “fitter”.  I have a specific weight and definition of fit, so it’s a specific, measurable goal.  And, aside from a bit of backsliding during the holidays, I’m well on my way to that.

Part of achieving my goals has led me to read Men’s Health Magazine and sign up for their online updates, too.  In one of those, they linked to an article about setting Fourteen Things To Make To Be A Better Man in the New Year.  Don’t let that title give you the idea you’re off the hook, either, ladies.  Those suggested goals all pretty well work for you, too!  But, seriously, take a look at them and then come back.  No, really.  Go ahead, I’ll wait for you.

Great.  Now, here’s the thing.  I’ve missed out on the first one because Warren Zevon is already dead.  I’m reading his biobraphy, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead; The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon, by his ex-wife, Crystal Zevon.  It’s the closest I’ll come to seeing him live.  But, some of the rest of those, I can do.  So can you.
Number three on that list is something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time now.  See the thing is, I hardly ever take a real vacation.  I never go anywhere.  Not this year.  This year, hook or crook, I’m going to go to another city and have some kind of adventure.  And, I’m going to take my camera to record it.  All of it.
Number five hits me where I live.  That’d be on-line for those of you just catching up.  But, you know, once upon  a time, I wanted to be a writer and express myself, and the broad spectrum of emotions a human being can experience with words.  So, this year, I’m going to do my best to cut out using emoticons and those damn chatroom abbreviations, like “LOL”.  It makes me feel cheap every time I resort to it, so, I’m going stop trying to be cool and just not do it.  And that goes double for the use, and over use of the word “dude” in my spoken communications. Hmph!
And, since I’m cleaning up my communications, I should finally get around to cleaning up my house.  I mean, really cleaning it.  Getting all the piles of books up onto shelves and getting the junk gone.  Maybe even getting rid of those lingering pieces of furnature from my former life, finally.  And, yes, I have an alterior motive with that.  My house has gotten way too “man-cave”, so I feel the need to make it more friendly to the opposite sex.  Catch more flies with honey, right?  Well, you get the idea.
Along those lines, since the public perception here is that I’m too negative, I’m going to go out of my way to pay people compliments.  Not just people I like, or women I want to meet, either.  Everybody.  I expect that will be a real challenge some days, but at least one a day seems like a good goal.
Another one I like from that list is to leave ten minutes earlier for everything.  It feels like I’ve been barely on time for months now and I want to change that.  I used to be early for everything and it made me feel more confident.  So, starting in the morning, I plan to leave earlier for everything.

One goal I want to add which isn’t on that list is to write more.  I have been writing more at my other site.  You remember me writing about that?  The Super Secret Creative Project of Doom?  Yeah, well, it’s not what I want it to be yet, but I finally figured a bad start was better than no start at all.  I’m not alone in this goal, incidentally.  A wonderful gal and even better writer I know, via our blogs only, from New York, Amanda Berlin, has in mind to set herself a similar goal.
I’m not sure how to set this one, myself.  My father taught me to set measurable goals because it’s easier to track your progress.  Last year, my creative goal was to complete the Flickr 365 Days project, which I did.  This year, my goal is writing, but I’m not sure what the best way to set that goal is.  Suggestions?  (Check out Amanda’s post on the subject to get some ideas.)

And, finally, quite possibly my most important goal this year is to get more sleep!  So, with that I’ll sign off.
What are your goals for the year?  Discuss in the comments, but in the morning.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"I don't know the secret to success but the key to failure is to try to please everyone."
   --Bill Cosby


Busy Weekend – Coolness To Come

Filed under: Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Ooo, shiny...,Personal,Red Herrings,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:52 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Of course, that could describe almost any week or weekend for me.

So, Saturday, I got up early to run out and get a few parts to upgrade my laptop, braving the near cataclysmic, torrential downpour.  Naturally, I was far from the only geek hard core enough to weather the storm to spend some quality time at MicroCenter.  Though I have to admit, it wasn’t nearly as crowded as I thought it would be, even with the flooding.  I know that Fry’s Home Electronics is more popular with some geeks, but I think MicroCenter’s prices are competitive and I think I get better, less aggressive, more knowledgeable, service there.  Though, in this case, I knew just what I wanted.  My main purpose was to get a bigger internal drive for my laptop, because all the pictures that I take suck up drive space like a drunk soaking up free booze and I was starting to feel the pinch.  But, I also wanted to get a wireless, “laptop” mouse that I can throw in my bag when I hit the road, since my laptop is quickly becoming my creative workstation.  I also grabbed a bunch of magazines that I usually don’t find in my usual haunts.  Mainly Photoshop stuff, but some others that I wouldn’t normally get like Practical Web Design and Giant Robot.  The particular issue of Practical Web Design has an article about time-sensitive, dynamic stylesheets that seemed pretty cool.

In any case, after that, I ran home to start cloning my laptop drive…  In fact, I’ll have a better, detailed post on that later this week.  Once I got the cloning process started, I ran over to some friends’ house with the intention of all of us going to the Friends of the Houston Library book sale.  However, after having my car almost get caught in water far deeper than it seemed, which was made worse by a jackass in a pickup cutting me off and throwing up a wave of water almost over the hood of my car, we thought better of making the attempt.  So, instead, I did a little work on her laptop, getting it on their wireless network and running some antispyware on it.  (Though, it sounds like it already could use another cleaning, so I’ll probably be back.)

After that it was church and dinner.

Sunday, I got up early to get in a good workout.  I’ve been getting into a bad pattern of exercising late, staying up late and dragging all day long without enough sleep.  After watching another friend at dinner who’s burning her candle at both ends, I made up my mind to not let that happen this week.  So, I got my lazy bones out of bed and got breakfast and coffee and got my behind in gear for a good, longer, workout before 10:00AM.

After that I was editing some photos for a project a friend of mine in New York is putting together.  Naturally, I hooked up my new wireless mouse to get better control of my editing tools.  I got a Logitech “laptop” mouse and it works great.  It’s a little smaller than a regular mouse, but not uncomfortably so.  What’s cool about it, though, is that it has a little USB dongle that links the mouse to the computer.  When it’s not in use, it fits on the bottom of the mouse and, when you slide it on and off, it automatically turns the mouse on and off to save battery life.  That may seem like a little detail, but it’s a great feature that helps not waste batteries when you’re on the road.  That can be a big deal sometimes.  In any case, that probably took longer than it should but my graphic editing skills are weak, weak, weak.  So, the practice no doubt did me good.  Also, it was flattering to have her invite me to submit some of my photos for her project.

I also managed to get in a little reading and some photography, too.  Not much, but, still, every bit counts!  Obviously, when I get through with the book I’m reading, I’ll review it.  And, sadly, I still didn’t get any work done on the WordPress themes I want to build or the creative website either.  As busy as I get, I’m not sure how I’ll manage time to work on that as regularly as I’d like.  I am trying to leverage Google Alerts to get some of that work done, but, there’s still a component of it that requires quite a bit of work from me, so…  Well, I’ll get there somehow.  (And, yes, I count the new site as part of the “coolness to come”, along with the step-by-step post on upgrading a laptop hard drive.)


Review: The International

Filed under: Art,Movies,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:04 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw The International Friday night.

It was pretty good, but not great.
This movie has been out for a little bit now, but I’m sure it’s still in theaters because it’s a pretty decent movie and, of course, rather timely, considering it’s about a bank. Rumor has it that it was, in fact, based partly on a real story, but I can’t confirm that.
In any case, the basic premise is this; a former Scotland Yard detective who’s moved over to Interpol has been after a giant, huge corrupt, shadowy bank, the International Bank of Credit and Commerce, for many years and finally gets close, but at what cost? The movie stars Clive Owen as the Scotland Yard/Interpol investigator who’s become obsessed with the bank. The movie also stars a totally unconvincing Naomi Watts as a New York Assistant DA who’s going after the bank to try and shut down one way the Mob launders their money.

The movie opens with Owen’s character waiting for a fellow investigator to come back after making contact with one of the bank’s high-ranking officers who’s about to turn on his employers. Before this investigator can cross the street, he’s killed by a very slick professional hitman in the employ of the bank. Before the night is through, the bank official is dead as well. But, the former Scotland Yard man is obsessed and now he’s close enough to smell blood, so he pursues every lead, every possible opportunity to get at the bank, even when it leads him almost to his own destruction.

Again, this movie wasn’t bad, but, frankly, for an action flick it was very slow. It really never took off and barely kept going at all in several places. Oh, there were several assassinations, and chases, one across the rooftops in Turkey, but, outside of an incredible scene in the rotunda of the Guggenheim in New York, there wasn’t anything that really caught fire.
Now, that scene in the Guggenheim was something else. It was ultra realistic, which was actually a bit of a plotting misstep, to be honest. They catch up to the assassin, who they are sure is going to let them crack the bank, but the bank has sent a team of really sloppy hitmen that spray the museum with bullets. It was incredible! And, the exact opposite of everything the bank had been doing up until that point in the movie. A total betrayal of their previous sneaky, hidden moves and completely out of character. There was one point, however, when someone tumbles off the railing and bounces down several flights of the circular balconies, finally braking his back on the lowest rail, that is so realistic it made me and the guys I went to see the movie with all wince. Trust me on this, that is one realistic scene!

All in all, it was okay. Not too many surprises, honestly, and slow for an action movie, but not bad. If you need to see this one, though, try for a matinee and avoid paying full-price. It’s not quite worth that.


Reviews: Burn After Reading & Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Movies,News and Current Events,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:16 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

Okay, so I saw two totally different movies this weekend.

I’m going to review them in reverse order, actually.
Sunday, at the earliest matinee, I saw Burn After Reading. Now, I have to admit, I went into this with pretty high expectations because, after all, it is a Coen Brothers’ film. Also, from the trailers, I was expecting a total comedy. Well, I’ll say this, I was certainly not sad that I went to see this film. And, it was very, very funny. But, it wasn’t really a comedy.

The story, in a nutshell, is this… Osborne Cox, a CIA analyst gets demoted, but quits in protest. His wife, a castrating bitch, is cheating on him, but also wants a divorce. He starts writing a memoir, which she copies to a disk along with a bunch of financial information to bring to her lawyer. Somehow, the disk gets, well, lost and falls into the wrong hands. In this case, the “wrong hands” is the staff at a health club, each of whom are messed up in their own way.
And, that’s just the first thirty minutes, or less, of the film! Oh, and that’s all without any of the subplots that all become hugely important later. It’s very much like Fargo, in all the best ways, even including a lot of the cast from Fargo, in fact.

Well, as always, without revealing any significant plot spoilers, let me say that this was a good movie, albeit complicated, convoluted and quirky. Of course, it is a Coen Brothers’ film, so I guess that’s to be expected.
The thing is, from the advertising and the trailers, I thought this would be mostly a comedy, but it’s not. Really, I’m not sure what it is, outside of being different and good. Well, it is funny, too, it’s just not full-out comedy. I mean, it’s better than that. It’s kind of hard to explain.
Okay, let’s just summarize and let me say that it’s worth paying full price to see this movie, and I almost never pay full price to see a movie any more.

Now, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is an entirely different animal.
As I wrote on Flickr, guys, if you take a date to see this movie and you didn’t get laid? Duder, you are doing something seriously wrong. I am not kidding.

Okay, look, I’ll admit it. I have a secret weakness for romantic comedies that are heavy on the romantic. Nick and Norah is such a film. It may not win any Oscars, but, if I had to pick a must-see movie, behind Dark Knight, of course, this would be it.
Two kids, seniors in different high schools in the greater New York area, have a mutual acquaintance in common. Nick’s ex-girlfriend and Norah’s arch-nemesis. They also share a love of music, which is featured through out the film.
Nick, the only straight member of an otherwise gay band, finds himself dragged out in search of a mythical band “Where’s Fluffy?” as he tries to recover from being dumped. Norah, a nice girl with a couple of self-image issues, gets dragged out to take care of a friend who invariably ends up drunk and, of course, by the lure of finding “Where’s Fluffy?”. Somewhere in the middle, they meet and…

Well, in my fine tradition of not ruining films I review with spoilers, I’m not going to tell you if they actually get together by the end of the film. But, let me reinforce that guys, if you are even the slightest bit nice, kind, sweet, gentlemanly, caring sort of guy that Michael Cera plays? This movie should pretty well make any normal, romantic, sweet, “bring her home to meet the parents” sort of girl you ought to be dating totally melt. As long as it’s your idea first, not hers, and you totally buy into the romance of this flick. You have GOT to believe it, brothers, or it will not fly.
But, uh, yeah, I need to find a date while this movie is still in the damn theaters. Like, pronto.

It’s been a great year for movies so far, and the rest of the year looks pretty good, too.
Stay tuned for more reviews. Oh, and another book review later in the week, too.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed."
   --Cavett Robert


Review: Babylon A. D.

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rat which is in the wee hours or 12:56 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw Babylon A. D. this weekend.

It wasn’t bad.
Actually, it was pretty good. Naturally, starring Vin Diesel, it was an action film, but that’s not a bad thing at all. The premise was that Diesel was a mercenary in a post Apocalyptic world, delivering a special girl from a nunnery in Tibet to New York. He’s hired by a Russian gangster, in some burned out version of a future Russia. Oddly, the Russian is played by a Frenchman, Gerard Depardeu, who wears a totally extraneous bit of facial appliance. Not sure what the point of that was, honestly. It was sort of strange, actually. So, in any case, this Russian gangster does all his business from a modified armored personnel carrier, because that’s the level of violence the world has reached, apparently. He airlifts Diesel’s character in a Russian knock-off of a Mercedes and drops him in front of the Tibetan nunnery, where he meets Michelle Yeoh’s character. She plays a nanny, of sorts, to the very special girl who was an orphan of some kind and needs to be delivered safely to New York City in six days.

Obviously, there are people trying to stop Diesel and Yeoh from getting the girl to NYC. That, in fact, is the basis for what seems to pass for a plot for most of the movie. It’s all about getting past all the barriers and obstacles to the Big Apple.

There are a few things that are a bit of a surprise, but, mostly, it’s a fairly predictable movie-length chase. There is a plot, of sorts, but it’s so thin that it seems more like a sub-plot than anything. And, it never really seems to get resolved, to me. It just suddenly ends. I mean, one minute, there’s this massive action scene and then… Poof! The movie is over. It’s really bizarre. It’s almost like there was an hour cut out of the movie that explains the ending or something. Really strange.

Oddly enough, the small point of not having an ending doesn’t really make it a bad movie. A little odd perhaps, but not bad at all. In fact, it’s a pretty good movie. It’s not Dark Knight, but it’s not bad, either. In fact, I might be willing to see it again, just to try and figure it all out!
So, in short, if you like science-fiction movies, or Vin Diesel, or just plain action films, it’s worth seeing at least once.

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