Diary of a Network Geek

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

4/12/2019

Size Effects

Filed under: Art,Fun — 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 a First Quarter Moon

How big are those Star Wars ships?

This week, I just have something quick for you because I’ve been busy. Stop laughing! It happens!
Also, this is just cool, so I’m glad to be sharing it. Have you ever wondered just how big the ships and stations in the Star Wars movies really are? I know, sometimes, I wonder about it, because of the engineering that must have gone into it. But, also, I think about how long it takes for people to get from one part of the ship to another. Not only that, but what about all the places that have those huge, open spaces where people inevitably seem to get pushed and fall into oblivion? How can that even happen if the place isn’t gigantic? Anyway, this week, I’m giving you a link to something that explains it pretty well. Personally, I like reading the written word and seeing infographics that I can study, but I know a lot of people prefer videos and that’s what leads me to share this. STAR WARS on Earth! – How Big the Ships REALLY Are.
It’s only a five minute video, which is time you can surely spare on a Friday if you’re reading this post, so go, look and be amazed. Revel in your geeky fandom!
And come back next week for more!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

3/29/2019

Making a Great Space Helmet

Filed under: Art,Fun,On Creativity — 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 a Third Quarter Moon

It’s harder than you think!

It’s no secret to anyone who reads this blog that I love science-fiction. I don’t know if it’s the escape of it, or the promise of a better tomorrow. Or maybe just the idea that we can engineer our way out of some of the troubles we have created for ourselves as a race. I know that I believe that the Universe is far too large for us to be the only intelligent life out there. It seems statistically improbable that we’re alone in the entire vastness of space. And, perhaps optimistically, I have to believe that if such beings exists, eventually we will at least find evidence of them, which most likely means traveling to distant worlds. Just how distant and by what methods require more math and physics than my poor, little brain is capable of dealing with, but I think that just makes it easier to believe it’s possible.
In any case, that belief draws me to science-fiction about space travel, whether it’s novels or movies. I have to admit, though, a good, realistic feeling space travel movie is really a joy. You may remember that I shared a short with you last year about this time called Prospect, about colonists on an alien world, mining some precious mineral. Well, that short got expanded into a longer feature that’s been the darling of several film festivals. And, this week, I’m just sharing an interview with the creators of Prospect, where they talk about the challenges of making a good prop spacesuit helmet. It’s actually quite an interesting interview, especially if you have any interest in making movies, science-fiction or making props. It’s not too long, either, which gives you plenty of opportunity to refresh your memory and re-watch Prospect so you can admire their handiwork.
Enjoy!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.

3/15/2019

Historical Communications Security

Filed under: Art,Fun — 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 Gibbous

“Check your flaps and seals.”

If you’re a spy history buff, like I am, you’ll recognize that as an admonition to a fellow practitioner to make sure that their communication is secure and that they don’t have any “leaks” in their organization. When I was in high school, back before essentially all communication that mattered was digital, “tradecraft”, as it related to the spy game, was all about surreptitiously opening someone else’s mail, reading it, and then sending it along, possibly altered. The first codes go back to at least the time of Caesar and have been in use for centuries. In modern secure communications, we are often concerned with verifying that the sender of information is, in fact, the party who claims to have sent it and that it hasn’t been tampered with. In digital communications, both tampering and providing algorithmic checks to discover tampering are surprisingly easy to implement and use. Of course, most people don’t bother because, well, most of us don’t have to worry much about secure communications.
But, somewhere between the two extremes of ancient cyphers and modern digital encryption and verifications, between the 10th and 17th centuries, innovative letter-writers developed other ways to let their recipient know that the letter is from whom it claims to be and hasn’t been tampered with called letterlocking. I’d never heard of this, until I read Before Envelopes, People Protected Messages With Letterlocking. Now, I figure most of my readers will be familiar with things like wax seals and signet stamps to “secure” letters, but, like me, had never heard of “letterlocking”. It’s fascinating, the idea of folding and stamping and marking letters, mostly without envelopes, to try to ensure message security. It reminds me of my primitive note-passing in grade school. If I’d had access to the letterlocking dictionary, things might have been more interesting.

So, as I warned you earlier this year, I’d still post things on Friday, but I completely expect that they’ll be increasingly idiosyncratic and may not be “fun” or interesting to anyone else but me. But, also, I encourage you to write a physical letter and use the letterlocking dictionary to teach yourself one of the letterlocking methods there, just for fun. I may just start leaving love notes for my wife this way. Then again, I may not. Maybe if she reads this and mentions it to me, I will. Think of it as yet another method of verifying communication. (Also, don’t worry. My blushing bride has a pretty damn good sense of humor. She needs to be married to me!)

Come back next week to see what I come up with next!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

2/15/2019

A Change of Scenery

Filed under: Art,Better Living Through Technology,Fun,GUI Center,MicroSoft — 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 Gibbous

This time of year, a change of scenery is a good idea.

Even if you can’t afford to travel, because, let’s face it with rising costs and fewer raises, who can afford to travel much? Still, after being cooped up all Winter long, right about now, as things start to thaw out, I start to think about a different view than the same, grey city. I try to escape in a good book, but even the books I’m reading these days are a little grey and bleak. As a computer geek, that leaves me just a few options. The easiest is just changing my Windows desktop background.
Thankfully, in my old links, I found a desktop background changer that Lifehacker had recommended; Chameleon. You don’t need to install it. Just hit that link, download the 32-bit or 64-bit version and run it. Then, pop open the settings and choose your location and it will change your wallpaper based on your local weather conditions, or your battery life, or time of day or any of several more specific variables. Also, when you hit that link, be sure to grab the “wallpaper pack”. In fact, I recommend doing that no matter what. And, if you plan on using Chameleon, unzip them to a folder before you run the program. Then you can select the appropriate photos in the setup. It’s really pretty straight-forward. And, when you’re tired of it running, just close it. Nothing to uninstall or remove. Just exit the program.
Simple, free and a beautiful change of very local scenery that’s very welcome this time of year.
Enjoy!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

2/1/2019

Chill Out Music

Filed under: Art,Fun,music — 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 Crescent

I could stand to be a little more chill.

Look, I don’t feel like going into a lot of detail about why, but I could have stood to have been a little more chilled out this week. The truth is, I’m stressed and exhausted and pretty well just done in. Frankly, I’m a bit embarassed that I let so much of my life get to me. My mother once told me, as an adult, that I always felt everything more than everyone else. And, trust me, she did NOT mean that as a compliment. I wish I weren’t that way, but, well, I am. I meditate for 20 minutes a day, five days a week, and pray more often than that. In fact, I actually work hard to try and stay non-reactive to the stressors in my life, but the very fact that I have to work hard at it kind of indicates that I’m not doing all that well at it.
Anyway, the upshot of all that is, when I see an article that claims to have The 10 Most Relaxing Songs, According to Science, Ranked, I pay attention, even if that list includes Coldplay. (Which, “spoiler alert”, it does.) The article has short snippets of the songs, but with links to the full songs on Spotify. It also has a little analysis of why each song seems to be so soothing. And, I have to admit, I listened to them while putting this blog post together and, well, they did seem to chill me out a little, so there may just be something to it.

In any case, it seemed like the thing to share on a Friday morning to help get everyone through the rest of the day and into the weekend. Like a public service. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
Anyway, enjoy and maybe I’ll have something else a little more interesting for you next week. Who knows? Come back and find out.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

1/18/2019

More Free Alternatives

Filed under: Art,Better Living Through Technology,The Tools — 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 Gibbous

I’m tired and lazy, but it’s Friday, so here’s a post for you.

The brave few who are regular readers here know I dig free software. I also have had aspirations of being a bit of an artist, writer and photographer. Sadly, I was more devoted to eating well and living comfortably than I was any art, so I didn’t get too far. But, as I get older, I also get cheaper and less willing to spend money on hobbies, which often leads me to seek out free software.
Anyone who’s done any serious computer graphics work knows that Adobe has some of the best software available. In fact, I actually subscribe to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan. I wasn’t a huge fan of the subscription model, but getting the latest version of Lightroom and Photoshop for $9.99 a month is actually a pretty good deal. Still, there’s a lot more that I wouldn’t use as often and therefore I’m not quite as willing to pony up the steep prices to get. For that, I’m back to my old quest for free software. Thankfully, David Murphy at Lifehacker has compiled the super useful 27 Free Alternatives to Adobe’s Expensive App Subscriptions. He’s done all the leg-work for you. I can’t vouch for all his choices, but for years I used GIMP instead of Photoshop, because it was free.

In any case, it’s been a busy week, for reasons I hope I can reveal soon, and I just haven’t had time to give you more than this simple link. Also, this week the link should actually work, unlike last week when Scrivener added some extra characters to the link code making an endless loop. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Scrivener for writing, but blog posts need clean code and text and until I figure out how to make that more seamless, I’ll use a text editor for blog posts before they go up.
Oh, and I did go back and fix those links from last week if you want to check out the incredible animated GIFs.

 

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

1/11/2019

Advanced Animated GIFs

Filed under: Art,Fun,The Tools — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 12:22 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Let’s not get into a discussion of how to pronounce “GIF”.

All I’ll say is that the creators of the format pronounced it like the peanut butter brand.
Either way, my purpose this week is to share two things from the same source. First, there’s the super cool, trippy animations from Etienne Jacob, aka Necessary-Disorder.

An animated GIF from Etienne Jacob, aka Necessary-Disorder

Just look at that incredible GIF. It repeats, but it seems to just run endlessly. It’s amazing. Hit the linked site for more of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But, if you’re feeling a bit more ambitious, head over to his other site necessary-disorder tutorials where the young Frenchman shares his process and tools for making these amazing works of animated art.

Another animated GIF from Etienne Jacob, aka Necessary-Disorder

I’d share more, but it’s been a crazy couple of weeks at work and I’ve been super busy there, and on a little something I’m keeping under wraps for now. Hopefully, though, there will be some good news to share with you, dear blog readers, before the end of the month.

12/7/2018

Desk Jams

Filed under: Art,Fun,music — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

A little background music while you work.

I could have sworn that I’d already shared this months and months ago, but, if I did, I can’t seem to find it on my blog. In any case, right now, I’m working in a mostly open office area, so I don’t play music out of respect for the other people I work with, but I generally like to have soft, ambient music playing in the background while I work. I’ve used things like Winamp and iTunes, but all too often my taste in music may not be what one considers “corporate” and can be a bit problematic. What works better is something without lyrics, but that can be looped pretty easily. Over the years, I’ve looked for things that work, but nothing I’ve found really works better than Desk Jams.
It’s all free, though I suppose there are ads on there somewhere, and any voices are strictly ambient sounds that are part of the music. It’s a little on the trance end of things, but it’s pretty good, generic music that, if played at a reasonable volume, shouldn’t be offensive to anyone.
And, again, it’s free, so you can’t get too picky!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words!

10/12/2018

Free Curated Movies

Filed under: Art,Fun — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Free, obscure movies to stream.

So, at this point, faithful readers, it’s no secret that I love movies of all kinds. I tend toward science-fiction, of course, but I also love gangster movies of all stripes and origins, not to mention noir films of all kinds as well. It’s also no secret that I love free. And, in fact, that love of cool, free things is what spawned my regular Friday posting. Even back when I was posting a lot more regular content, I tended to post the fun stuff on Friday, to give my readers, and myself, a break.
In any case, I’m not the only one who likes to share. Luckily, folks with more power and resources often share great stuff and I bring it to your attention. This week, I’m sharing a site called byNWR. According to their “About” page, the site was “[b]orn from a passion for the rare, the forgotten and unknown, byNWR breathes new life into the culturally intriguing, influential and extreme.” What that looks like is obscure film, bought to you, and at least partially curated by Nicholas Winding Refn. You will need to sign up for a free account, but then you’ll be able to see films I can almost guarantee that you haven’t even heard of, much less seen. Definitely worth a sign-up.
So, check it out and see what you think, but, be warned, some of these may not be precisely work safe. What else do you have to do besides work on a Friday?

10/5/2018

Woven Photos

Filed under: Art,Fun — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:39 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

More interesting art for your enjoyment.

Last week, I shared some Andy Warhol-inspired videos that would help you create in a similar style. I love those kinds of tutorials. But, I also love just sharing interesting work. I’m also an amateur photographer, which you can see via my Photo Gallery page, though I’m far from what I’d consider an artist. My photos have been used by a close friend of mine, though, who is an artist when he put together a book of his work. And, I know I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the odd things about our current age of digital photography is that thousands more photographs are being taken every day than ever before, but fewer are being seen. Even fewer are being printed. One of the things that convinced me to marry my wife was that she printed one of my photos and framed it for me. It’s the first of my photos I’ve ever printed, and may be the only one to date, actually.
All of which is to say that I really admire artists who take their photographic work and not only print it, but manipulate it into something more. And, obviously, that’s what I’m sharing with you this week. Head over to Boing Boing, via this link, and see Photographer shreds her work then weaves it back together again, so see Lala Abaddon talk about her work, shredding her photographs so that she can then weave them back together in unique and beautiful abstract works. Or, you can skip the woo-woo artist talky bits and just look at her work, which is also shown on the same page. And, there are links to where she is on the web, so you can see more of her work. Philosophy of art and her relationship to the universe aside, the work is quite compelling.
Besides, it’s a Friday and you weren’t planning on working so much you couldn’t take the time to follow the links, so go for it!

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