Diary of a Network Geek

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


And, Now, A Distraction

Filed under: Art,Fun,Fun and Games,Movies — 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 Waning Gibbous

I could stand to think about something else for a bit.

For the past several weeks, all we’ve talked about is COVID-19. Not just here on this blog, but, well pretty much everywhere. I mean, every interaction I’ve had with anyone for the past month to six weeks has had something to do with the novel coronavirus. So, if you’re like me, you’re about done talking about it for a bit. Outside of taking some pretty reasonable precautions, like washing your hands more frequently and limiting contact with others as much as possible and wearing a face mask of some kind when you absolutely have to be out with others, there’s really not much that’s in our control here. It’s frustrating, at least for me.
So, to help deal with that frustration, this week, I’m sharing nothing but fun links to amuse and distract. I hope you enjoy them!
Let’s start with Astartes – the Warhammer 40,000 fan film! It’s all fan made, and broken into small parts, but it’s brilliant, lovely work. If you’re a sci-fi fan at all, it’s worth a look.
If you’re looking for something a bit longer, but maybe not a full-length movie, IO9 has five short sci-fi, fantasy, and horror films that will fit the bill. And, yes, they may be a little intense for younger viewers, but they’re basically safe for work from home. And, all have high-production value and are really, really well done. Definitely worth the 12-15 minutes away from your virtual office for a break.
Next up is a somewhat more light-hearted film REBOOTED – a short film about an out of work special effect. It’s cute and, again, amazingly well done. A lovely story told entirely without dialog.
And, speaking of special effects, this next film, BOX, is an art piece about the intersection of video, virtual reality and physical space. Actually, it’s a little hard to explain, but it’s beautiful to watch, so, please, go take a little bit and experience it.
And, to wrap things up, a YouTube channel that gives you things to actually do; PPO Papercraft videos. There are papercraft tutorials here for just about every interest. Everything from paper airplanes to origami flowers and everything in between. As a kid I was given a couple of origami books one time when I was sick and I totally fell in love with paper folding. To this day, I can make a flying crane from memory with nothing more than a gum wrapper. A lot of time inside and away from other people sounds like just the opportunity to learn some new origami forms. I encourage you to try it! It’s fun!

So, there you go, some things to watch and some things to do during the quarantine. I’m not sure how many more weeks of this we’re going to have, but I am sure the longer this goes on the stranger the links are I’ll share.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!


Sci-Fi Shorts

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:12 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I can’t get enough short sci-fi movies.

I mean, I know I’ve posted links to short science-fiction videos before, but I really think short, lower-budget film has come into its own lately. Oddly, I think it’s the opposite of what’s happened with the publishing industry, where short-stories have become less and less profitable, and therefore less interesting to writers. But, these days, with the low cost of hardware, video capture and editing tools, as well as distribution methods, independent creators are, thankfully, more and more willing to take risks on pretty experimental films. The intersection of sci-fi and fantasy creative ideas with very inexpensive and easy-to-use special effects tools can make for really interesting and fun short films.
And, today, I have several really great ones for you from IO9.com, in a post titled 10 Excellent New Sci-Fi and Fantasy Shorts You Need to Check Out. Really, the title says everything, but, if you follow that link, you’ll get everything from interstellar lawyers to samurai zombies to technology gone a little bit wrong.
All of which are totally worth seeing, especially if you’re bored enough to be reading this blog on a Friday!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!



Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies — 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 Waxing Crescent

A short film about a classic sci-fi problem.

It’s another Friday, and, as usual, my poor, little brain has been cooked pretty well this week. If you’re feeling the same way, we’re both in luck because I have the perfect 20 minute distraction from your week. I don’t want to spoil anything, but this very well done science-fiction short takes a fresh look at a classic paradox. The production values are high, as are the stakes. It’s thoroughly engaging and doesn’t talk down to the hard-core, old-school fans of science-fiction. If that sounds like a great way to take a break today, check out Hyperlight by Nguyen-Anh Nguyen on Vimeo via IO9.com.

And, hopefully, you’ll come back next week for something else cool for your Friday afternoon!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.


Escape the Planet

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 Waning Crescent

No, not for real, just in a browser-based game.

I’ve often said that if things are as bad on this beautiful, blue marble as the news would have us believe, then we should throw all our resources into getting off it and founding a colony somewhere else. Like Mars, for instance. As it turns out, I’m not the only one to think that way, but for some reason, people take Elon Musk more seriously than me when he says it. Be that as it may, I still have often dreamed of being one of those brave travelers who fling themselves into the starry night and try to begin civilization again on some distant world, under the light of an alien sun. Sadly, I suspect that I’ll die long before interplanetary colonization really gets going, much less interstellar travel.
Still, the subject has been a rich mine for writers and game creators alike, which brings me to the Friday Fun Link I have to share with you; Seedship. It’s a simple, text-based game of interstellar exploration and colonization you can play right in your browser! Just follow that link and you can take the part of a ship’s artificial intelligence, helping colonists find a suitable home and survive long enough to make a life there.
It’s pretty simple game-play, but I have to admit, it is kind of fun. And, of course, it’s a quiet way to spend a couple minutes of your Friday having some fun.

Try it out and “escape the planet”, at least for a few minutes at lunch!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.  Why not check it out?


Science Fiction Short Films

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies — 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

Also, they’re free.

In 2015, Sploid, a sub-site of Gizmodo, had a short film festival. Just to be clear, that’s a festival of short films. There were 21 films, many of which include some actors you may recognize. All the films were creative and, frankly, pretty amazing.
And, let’s face it, it’s Friday and you’re reading this blog, which means you weren’t doing any actual work anyway, so you might as well head over to YouTube and watch all of them. They are, after all, short films, so it won’t take too terribly long.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for you this week, because I’ve been a bit sick and didn’t have a chance to get anything better together.
But, I think this will be good enough.
Enjoy, and I’ll see you back here next week!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.


Pioneer One – Crowdfunded Sci-Fi

Filed under: Art,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:54 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I love science-fiction.

I love sci-fi in pretty much all its forms, but I have to admit, I especially like science-fiction television and movies.  And, these days, as Hollywood produces more and more of the same stuff over and over, unwilling to take risks, I find myself loving sci-fi television more.
Now, with cameras and equipment as reasonably priced as they are, it’s possible for small, independent film-makers to roll their own media, in both film and television.  Combine that kind of low-budget, but high-level of passion for production, with all the different ways people are funding their favorite projects and, well, what you’ve got is Pioneer One.

Now, I have to admit, I haven’t shelled out the money for it just yet, but go check out the trailer and tell me if you aren’t at least a little intrigued by what you see.  I know I was.  Kind of looks like the X-Files, but crossed with Operation Blue Book.  Seems like it might lead somewhere.
Oh, and they must be doing okay, because they’ve got six episodes now, so someone is coughing up the money to keep this worth pursuing for them.

In any case, it’s Friday, so why not at least check out the trailer?  You won’t be sorry!


SciFi Book Picker

Filed under: Art,Fun,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:36 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

It’s not secret I love books.

Frankly, it’s no secret that I love science-fiction books, either.  But, generally, my “To Be Read” pile is so huge I sometimes have a hard time picking which book to read next.  I’ve featured other book pickers in my Friday Fun posts before, but those were all generic.  So, here’s a new one specifically for Sci-Fi books; BestSFBooks

Now, I’ll be honest, it’s not strictly a book picker, per se, but it lists the “Top Ten Books” and the “Top Ten” authors for the current year and previous years as well as listing the newest science-fiction books.  You can also search the site and find out more about books you might be interested in reading to help you decide which to pick.
It’s pretty much brand new, so there’s no telling how good it really is at helping you find new books to read, but I think it’s worth checking out.

Besides, it’s Friday, so what else do you have to do?  (If you use the site, though, please check back here and leave comments about your experience!)


Review: Rainbows End

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,GUI Center,News and Current Events,Review,Things to Read — 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 First Quarter Moon

I finished Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge last week.

There’s a reason Rainbows End was awarded the Hugo for Best Novel in 2007. It is, to put it simply, a great book. There were parts that got a little slow for me, but, over all, it was a great piece of work. Of course, it probably didn’t hurt that I knew Vernor Vinge taught Computer Science and that the book had won the award. That is why I got it to read, after all.

The story follows one Robert Gu, a famous poet who’s fallen victim to Alzheimer’s Disease, as he’s cured and reintegrates into society.  The “down side” of his cure is that he’s lost the miracle of his poetry.  Somehow, whatever the cure does to fix the dementia alters Robert’s brain in such a way that he is no longer the man he used to be.  And, he’d do just about anything to get that magic back.  The story also follows Robert’s son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter as they deal with his regained ability to interact with the world.  The twist comes in with the fact that his son, Bob, and daughter-in-law, Alice, are in the military as part of the group who keeps America, and the world, safe from terrorists of all stripes.  International spies find a way to use Robert’s desire for regaining his poetic skills to get inside Bob and Alice’s command.  Their goal is somewhat less clear, but it involves a plot to manipulate the minds of the unsuspecting world public to “improve” everyone’s way of life.  Of course, things rarely work out the way anyone intends.

Well, as you can imagine, there are some very good reasons this won the Hugo for 2007.  It is a very good book.  I got a little distracted in the middle when life got a little strange, but, for the most part, the plot moved along at a good pace and always had something interesting to offer.  One of the attractions for me was the view of future computer technology that Vinge describes in this book.  His concept of wearable computers that are partially integrated into clothing and contacts seems like a logical step from where scientists are experimenting today.  Vinge presents this, and all the hard science-fiction in this book, in a realistic, no-nonsense way that makes it all seem very plausible.
He also draws some believable characters who’s actions are logical and reasonable given their motivation and the circumstances.  I can easily see myself doing some of the same things these characters do, both good and bad.

In short, if you enjoy science-fiction, there’s plenty to enjoy in Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge.  Definitely a change for me, but a good one which I heartily recommend.

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