Diary of a Network Geek

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


My First Geek Gathering

Filed under: Art,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Career Archive,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Fun Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:05 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

So, Friday I went to my first geek networking event.

Okay, now, to be clear, I mean the first event I’ve ever been to that the point was to get to know other geeks, not work on computer networking. It was the first of what I think will be many. The event is a monthly “Geek Gathering” put on by Jay Lee and Dwight Silverman of TechBytes and the Houston Chronicle. I was convinced to come out this time by Kristie “Suburban Goddess” MacLaughlin. Though, I have to admit, I think she did it simply to get me active on Facebook, since the event was announced there. We’ve followed each other’s blogs for some time now, and exchanged a few e-mails, but never met. And, before any of my regular readers who are often eager for me to get involved with someone, mainly for the jokes that come out of my so-called love life, let me hasten to emphasize that this was not a date! She’s quite happy with her boyfriend and doesn’t need my uncivilized self mucking things up. Just in case anyone was wondering.

Still, she was quite eager to get me out to meet Jay and Dwight and “the gang”. Now, I did meet those folks, but I got caught in ugly traffic, so I got there a bit late and didn’t get to meet everyone I might have liked to know. For instance, I missed meeting the guys who run the Houston-based Japanese animation and manga convention known as ONI-CON. I did meet a couple of very nice journalists who got laid off from the Chronicle, however, who were there networking as well.
Funny thing about that, the networking thing. I’ve never really done it before, and I think it showed. Living alone, my conversational skills have atrophied so as to be almost non-existent! Thankfully, I was surrounded by people who were good at it and gracious. Donna, aka @Cottonwood2009, was very nice and kept my end of the conversation up as well as her own. And, of course, it seemed that everyone was on either Twitter or Facebook or both. I’m on Twitter for the tools I can add to this blog in case of losing my connection to the Internet again during a hurricane, so my family up North will know that I’m still alive. (They worry.) I was on Facebook, but hadn’t really done anything with the account. Since meeting a few folks, most notably Dwight and Jay, my Twitter followers have more than tripled in the space of two days and my Facebook friends have gone from one to eighteen.
And, I got to talk with several people about photography, too. In fact, it seemed like every third person there had a camera in hand. I didn’t take many pictures this time, but you can see the few I did at my Flickr page, under Geek Gatherings. There will be more eventually.

I remember when the on-line world and the “real” world were mostly separate. I’ve blogged for almost nine years now and never actually expected to meet most, if not all, of my readers. But, as the song goes, the times, they are a-changin’ and now, I fear, I’ll be meeting more and more of them. Perhaps I’ll have to start writing better and more relevant things! Good gravy, I may have to start writing technical posts again! What a strange turn of events that would be.
I have to be honest, and in all seriousness, meeting some of my readers makes me, well, a little uncomfortable. It’s bad enough that my readers often think that they know me based on what I write here, but now… Now, having met me in person, I’m afraid that the lines will become even more blurred. And, anyone who’s read my blog for a long time knows how I like my life neatly segmented and clearly defined. Still, what else is there to do? It’s either that or keep talking to the dog and, frankly, I think she’s getting a bit tired of hearing the same jokes over and over.

But, it was good to be out of my comfort zone Friday. It was good to go to a new place and meet new people. And, it was even good to put some faces to names that I’d seen on-line in any number of venues. I may not be very good at this networking thing, as ironic as that seems considering the title of my blog, but I’m going to keep working at it. It’s the one thing that I should have been working at harder all these years. Who knows, maybe I would have had a better series of jobs than I did? Maybe even a better series of girlfriends? Well, maybe not, but a guy can dream! Certainly going forward, if anything happens to me at my current job, I’ll be better off if I have a good, strong, professional network. If you’re in Houston and a geek like me, it would be worth checking out next month.
And, who knows, maybe one of these times I’ll meet the future ex-Mrs. Hoffman?


Review: Snow Crash

Filed under: Art,Fun,Review,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:04 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I finished Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson last night.

Okay, so let me front-load this review with all the bad things up front. The main character’s name is Hiro Protagonist. I mean, can you get any more gimmicky than that? And, as often seems to happen with Stephenson’s books, things come to an end very quickly. And, by that I mean, they build to a state of extreme tension over more than three-hundred pages and then end in less than twenty, often without much in the way of explanations or tying up of loose ends. Snow Crash is no different.

But, those things aside, it’s a damn fine bit of science-fiction.
The story follows Hiro, who’s a hacker that’s currently working for Uncle Enzo’s Cosa Nostra Pizza as a delivery driver. Hiro, however, runs afoul of Uncle Enzo after crashing his delivery car trying to get a late pizza delivered on time. He’s aided by a skateboard courier by the name of Y.T. She’s a little under-age, but she’s a great courier and, now, a friend of Uncle Enzo. That’s a good thing, considering that the Mafia is a nearly ubiquitous franchise in the world of Snow Crash. In fact, most franchises seem to be nearly ubiquitous and have managed to become their own little countries, as are the California suburbs, or “Burbclaves”, where most of the book’s action takes place.
So, when Hiro gets fired from his job at Uncle Enzo’s, he goes to his part-time job as a stringer for the Central Intelligence Corporation and starts selling them intelligence. While in the on-line world known as the Metaverse, which Hiro helped program, searching for some juicy intel, he watches one of his hacker friends get infected with a new computer virus called “snow crash”. Nothing new there, right? Well, not quite… There’s a new twist to snow crash. It seems that this virus not only infects your computer, but it does something to your mind, too. And, now, someone’s trying to infect Hiro with it.

So, that’s the basic premise. I won’t spoil the book by telling you how it all turns out. But, I will drop a few hints. There’s a bunch of religion involved. And ancient Sumerian artifacts and the Metaverse and one of Hiro’s ex-girlfriends and raft-riding refugees and more. It’s complicated, convoluted and entirely entertaining. In many places it seems so light and comical that it’s almost a farce, but, really, that just off-sets the intensity of the other, more philosophical passages.
If you haven’t read it yet, read Snow Crash.  It’s Neal Stephenson at his best and it’s great.

Powered by WordPress
Any links to sites selling any reviewed item, including but not limited to Amazon, may be affiliate links which will pay me some tiny bit of money if used to purchase the item, but this site does no paid reviews and all opinions are my own.