Diary of a Network Geek

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


Artistic Constraints

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 Waning Gibbous

Any good artist knows that constraints make better art.

My experience has been that limitations force us to make better work and make it easier for us to create. It’s been true since those creative writing assignments I used to get in Grade School, where we were assigned a title and had to write a story based on it. Back in the Fifth Grade, I could take those titles and warp them into something completely unexpected. For example, I managed to take “My Adventure at the Circus” and turn it into a subterranean fantasy that started with a trap door found under the edge of a circus tent. Seriously. Good art, which may or may not include “My Adventure at the Circus” circa the Fifth Grade, happens when artists bang up against the constraints of their chosen medium. And, when even those constraints feel too open, additional restrictions help them make better art, believe it or not. In the case of the writing exercise, being forced to start with that title was usually enough for me to really turn loose.
But, these days, I don’t have as much time as I feel like I need to write, so I’ve changed mediums.
When I was in school, I wanted to make art and felt drawn to photography.  But, when I was a student and had the time, I didn’t have the money to buy a camera, much less the film.  Now, thanks to the speed, ease and relative low cost of digital photography, I can indulge myself in photography.  And, for those of you who know me, you know I have, in fact, done that.  But, my work there has stalled.  I need constraints.
Last week, I posted a link to a Daily Photography challenge.  I don’t know about you, but I think a daily challenge may be a bit too much for me.  Luckily, DIY Photography has a 52 Week Photography Challenge that may provide the subjects I need to force myself to get creative with photography, with just a little less intimidating frequency.    Every week, they have a subject, or theme or specific instruction, to help a photographer constrain their art enough to get creative.
I’m not sure that I’ll do it every week, but you, dear reader, certainly can.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.


Daily Photography

Filed under: Art,Fun,On Creativity,Photography,Stimulus and Production,The Tools — 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 Waxing Gibbous

I encourage you to indulge in your hobby daily.

My favorite hobby is photography.
I’ve wanted to learn photography since I was in high school, but, until the birth of digital photography, it always felt beyond my reach.  I got interested again because, about ten years ago, someone asked me what I liked to do for fun.  At the time, I was stymied for an answer.  My shock at not having a hobby led me to take a good portion of my savings at the time and buy my first DSLR.  That led me to a Flickr account and some fooling around.  That led me to doing the 365 Project, just as a way to learn my camera.  And, I can tell you, shooting a self-portrait every day for a year straight was an amazing experience.  I’m not sure that I’d go so far as to say it was “life changing”, but it sure did make me a lot more comfortable with my camera.
If you’re one of the lucky people who got a new camera for Christmas this year, you may be looking for a project to get your feet wet.  I highly recommend some kind of 365-day project.  If the idea of a self-portrait every day is too much, why not take a look at the 365 Days of Shooting Prompts Challenge at Photoblog?  They have a shooting prompt for every day of the calendar year in 2017, all in a downloadable calendar.  I know this is posting on the 6th, but you can easily catch up, or just go until January 6th, 2018!
I’m firmly convinced that your photography will improve with shooting every day, whether you use a professional-grade DSLR or the camera on your smart phone.  What do you have to lose?

Incidentally, I think photography is going to be my theme this month.  Not everything will be entirely free, but I’ll probably include some links to free tutorials for paid software, so it’ll be pretty close.
Enjoy and have a great 2017!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.


DIY Computer Security

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,MicroSoft,Review,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:41 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

Is it even possible?

Well, frankly, I don’t know that there really is such a thing as computer security at all any more in these days of ubiquitous network access. I mean, it used to be that you could install a simple anti-virus program and sit behind a firewall and be fairly safe, but not any more. Now, with botnets and phishing scams and junk e-mail, well, frankly, you just can’t get away from it any more. In fact, now, the “hackers” are becoming so dumbed down that they’re using Do-It-Yourself “kits” that build some of the attacks for them! Just the other day, I read an article on ZDNet about something floating around the shadowier corners of the Internet that the nasties are calling a “DIY Phishing Kit“. So, now, it’s not bad enough that these scum-sucking bottom-feeders are out there trying to rip me off from the safety of their own home, or country, but now they’re making it even easier for no-talent, mouth-breathing, inbred miscreants to scam people out of their hard-earned cash! (Of course, long-time readers will know that I’ve made things harder for at least one phisher.) Man, that pisses me off!

There are so many people out there both creating these hazards to our digital lives and fighting them, that someone has suggested a uniform naming convention for all the security vendors to use when they refer to this “malware“. That’s all well and good, but all I really care about is keeping my systems secure. And, I’m sure you all worry about that, too. The problem is, in this tight economy, not many of us have much money to fight against these invisible baddies, not even me. Don’t let the advertising fool you, what I take in from the ads on this site aren’t even enough to pay for it, much less anything else. So, what’s a poor computer geek to do? Use free software, naturally.

PC Magazine has an article reviewing their “Top Five” picks for free security software. Personally, I can recommend AVG and Spybot Search and Destroy, even though they say Spybot is out of date. Also, I’ll add in Lavasoft’s AdAware, which is also free and quite good. I generally use both Spybot and AdAware to get rid of spyware. What one misses, the other catches. And, AVG has been around for quite a long time. They’re amazingly good, especially for free software.
Naturally, there are no guaranties when you use free software, but, then again, most of the paid software has outs in their EULA (end user license agreement), too, so why pay all that money? Keep in mind, these are free for personal use only. So, home businesses should technically use the paid software. We’ve all got to do our part to fight against these dirty spammers, scammers and thieves. The best place to start is a clean system. If you don’t have an antivirus program installed, get one. Fast.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Those who dance are considered insane by those who can't hear the music."
   --George Carlin

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